Celtics rout Bucks to open 2nd round
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Al Horford stood his ground as Giannis Antetokounmpo charged his way.
Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks’ MVP candidate, desperately wanted to provide a spark and cut into a second-half lead against Horford’s Boston Celtics in the opener of a second-round playoff series on Sunday. He drove hard into the lane, quickly switched directions and tried to lay the ball up over Horford, who met him at the rim and blocked the shot.
Antetokounmpo corralled the ball and went up a second time only to be met by Horford again, who this time spiked the ball to the court.
The Celtics clamped down on Antetokounmpo all game and cruised past the Bucks, 112-90.
“Our focus was to make sure that we just made it tough on him every time, just making sure he earned everything he got,” Horford said. “I felt like we did a pretty good job of that.”
Kyrie Irving had 26 points and 11 assists, tying his playoff career high, and Horford added 20 points and 11 rebounds to pace Boston, which controlled the game for long stretches while playing stingy defense against Antetokounmpo.
Jaylen Brown chipped in with 19 points and Gordon Hayward had 13 off the bench for the Celtics.
Antetokounmpo scored 22 points but shot just 7 for 21. He didn’t make his first field goal until the first minute of the second quarter.
“It was one of the toughest losses we’ve ever had, all season, especially at home,” Antetokounmpo said.
Game 2 is Tuesday in Milwaukee.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer is expecting his star player to bounce back.
“As great as he’s been, he hasn’t been perfect every night,” Budenholzer said. “He’s hard on himself, so there will probably be some point where I put my arms around him and tell him, ‘You’re going to be great.'”
Durant’s 35 points carry Warriors
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Steve Kerr saw his share of spectacular postseason performances playing alongside one of the greatest ever.
“There was this guy named Michael, I can’t remember his last name,” the Golden State coach cracked in reference to former Bulls teammate Michael Jordan.
Kevin Durant is having a superb postseason run of his own.
Durant scored 35 points in outdueling James Harden and the Warriors held off the Houston Rockets 104-100 on Sunday in the opener of what is shaping up to be a sensational best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal.
“When he’s being as aggressive as he’s been, I don’t think there’s anyone in the NBA, maybe the world who can stop him,” Draymond Green said of the two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP.
Houston’s Chris Paul was ejected with 4.4 seconds left for a second technical, though he said afterward he wasn’t sure what he did wrong — and he wouldn’t say whether he made contact with official Josh Tiven while arguing.
“I don’t know yet. Nobody told me. He just called a tech,” said Paul, who had rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Harden that could have tied the game with 9 seconds left and was arguing for a foul.
Green added 14 points, nine assists and nine rebounds for the Warriors.