OAKLAND (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 29 points and established an early defensive tone against James Harden, leading the Golden State Warriors past the Houston Rockets 115-109 on Tuesday night for a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference semifinal.
Harden got hit in both eyes early but was able to return and finished with 29 points and seven rebounds on a night boos regularly greeted both him and Chris Paul at deafening Oracle Arena, where the Rockets complained after a 104-100 Game 1 defeat that the officials missed foul calls when the Warriors closed out on Houston’s 3-point shooters.
POSTGAME REACTION: Stephen Curry, Jonas Jerebko, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala
Paul celebrated and cheered when Harden drew a foul on Durant in the closing seconds of the third on a very such play. Harden converted three free throws to pull Houston within 82-75 going into the final 12 minutes.
Harden scored seven straight Houston points during one stretch midway through the fourth, including a 3 at 7:25 that go the Rockets within 92-89. Stephen Curry connected for a key 3 at the 6:31 mark on the way to 20 points.
Klay Thompson scored 21 points and hit consecutive 3-pointers late in the third. Draymond Green had 15 points, 12 rebounds — three on the offensive end over two possessions in the opening quarter — and seven assists.
Game 3 is Saturday in Houston.
Durant took an early charge from Harden and blocked one of his shots as Houston committed five quick turnovers that led to 10 points. Andre Iguodala, who also handled much of the load defending Harden, added 16 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Curry dislocated his left middle finger in the first quarter but X-rays were negative and he returned with it taped.
Curry missed his first four 3-point tries before hitting late in the first and played in foul trouble once more. He picked up his fourth with 6:43 in the third on a reach in, something he’s been working to stop doing.
Harden injured his eyes with 6:39 left in the first, grabbing at his face after he and Green fought for a loose rebound and Green’s left hand got Harden in the face.
When Harden went to the locker room with 6:27 left and a towel over his left eye for a cut, Green patted him on the back and said something to acknowledge the tough play. Harden returned at the 7:09 mark of the second.
Both teams were more composed when it came to mouthing off at the referees.
Harden already had a history with official Scott Foster, who worked Tuesday’s game. Harden was fined $25,000 for calling Foster “rude and arrogant” following a 121-111 loss at the Lakers on Feb. 21 in which Harden fouled out — and Foster hadn’t worked the Rockets since until Tuesday.
The schedule was made before officiating became such an emphasis in the series opener.
“He’s one of the best in the game and I’d be surprised if he wouldn’t be somewhere,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said beforehand. “The crew is some of the best in the league.”
In Game 1, Paul was automatically ejected with 4.4 seconds left following a second technical and fined $35,000 by the NBA on Monday for making contact with official Josh Tiven.
D’Antoni emphasized the scrutiny of officials “shouldn’t continue.”
Durant’s run of five straight performances scoring at least 30 points was snapped.
With 201 points over his previous five games, he became the fourth player in NBA history to score 200 or more in such a span — joining LeBron James, Allen Iverson and Michael Jordan.
Green and Nene got tangled up and drew double technicals after Harden’s third free throw at the end of the third.
With his fourth technical of the postseason, Green is three away from an automatic one-game suspension.
Rockets: Houston committed nine first-quarter turnovers leading to 14 Warriors points while shooting 7 for 19. … Reserve G Austin Rivers returned after he missed Game 1 with an illness. … Houston is 5-14 vs. the Warriors dating to the 2015 Western Conference finals won by the Warriors on the way to their first title in 40 years. … After going 14 of 47 from deep in the series opener, missing their initial eight threes and 27 straight to end Game 7 vs. Golden State last year, Houston shot 17 for 40 on 3s in Game 2.
Warriors: The Warriors committed just 12 turnovers after it became a big focus after getting 20 in Game 1. … Golden State improved to 6-1 all-time in the postseason when using the starting lineup of Curry, Durant, Green, Iguodala and Thompson. … With 324 career postseason 3s, Thompson matched Manu Ginobili for fourth on the NBA’s all-time postseason list for 3s.
Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins did some shooting Tuesday morning. He isn’t likely to return this postseason after tearing his left quadriceps muscle in the first round against the Clippers.
“He’s progressing with his rehab but nothing significant enough to report,” Kerr said. “But he’s doing a little bit better.”
© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.