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Stephen Curry scored 14 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and the Golden State Warriors stormed back from a 16-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 119-113.
Klay Thompson tallied 24 points on Saturday for the Warriors, who seized a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven first-round Western Conference playoff series.
CJ McCollum scored 32 points and Damian Lillard added 31 for the Blazers, who will try to stay alive with a win in game four on Monday.
“They had a lot of adrenaline but we were able to withstand their runs and get back in the game,” said Curry. “I love these kind of moments. I have confidence in myself to make those shots.”
Elsewhere Saturday, Marc Gasol lifted Memphis to a 110-108 overtime win over the San Antonio Spurs with a clutch jump shot at the buzzer that allowed the Grizzlies to level their playoff series at 2-2.
Golden State was without forward Kevin Durant (calf injury), guard Shaun Livingston (finger) and forward Matt Barnes (ankle).
Warriors coach Steve Kerr also did not attend the game because of illness. His was replaced by assistant coach Mike Brown.
After the final buzzer, Curry collected the game ball and said he planned to deliver it to Kerr.
“Our coach is going through a lot right now,” Curry said. “He told us to go out and ‘win one for the Gipper.'”
Lillard scored 22 points and McCollum 17 as the Blazers went into halftime leading 67-54.
Curry and Thompson were a combined eight for 25 from the field at halftime.
In Memphis, Gasol’s floater over Spurs defender LaMarcus Aldridge with 0.7 seconds left capped a thrilling back and forth first round playoff contest Saturday in front of a crowd of 18,100.
Kawhi Leonard scored a playoff career high 43 points for the Spurs, including San Antonio’s final 16 points in the fourth quarter.
“Both teams played their hearts out,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Just a fantastic basketball game. The fans got their money’s worth. Marc made a great shot. L.A. (Aldridge) contested it very well, it (went) down.”
Leonard added eight rebounds, six steals and three assists. Leonard’s fade-away jumper with 12 seconds left in regulation gave San Antonio a 96-94 lead.
But Leonard’s brilliant performance was in vain as Mike Conley led Memphis with 35 points and had nine rebounds and eight assists.
Conley, who had 11 points in the final quarter, answered with a floater in the lane with four seconds left to tie the game at 96.
Leonard then missed a 21-footer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Memphis won despite making a franchise postseason record 23 turnovers that led to 31 San Antonio points.
Elsewhere, DeMar DeRozan, held scoreless from the floor a game earlier, struck for 33 points and nine rebounds to lead Toronto over Milwaukee 87-76.
The visiting Raptors pulled level with Milwaukee at 2-2 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series, which continues Monday in Toronto.
In Atlanta, the Atlanta Hawks led wire-to-wire en route to a dominating 116-98 victory over Washington, cutting the Wizards lead in the playoff series to 2-1.
Millsap was 12 of 20 from the floor and had five assists. The only blemish on his night was missing four-of-nine free throws.
Game four of the series is Monday in Atlanta.
After the game, Millsap and Washington’s Markieff Morris continued to fire verbal jabs at each other.
Morris called Millsap a “crybaby”.
“He’s a crybaby. You get all the calls when you’re a crybaby. That’s how I look at it,” Morris said.
Millsap added: “It definitely got personal now, yes.”
Atlanta also got 27 points and nine assists from Dennis Schroder. Rookie Taurean Prince scored 16 points.
The Golden State Warriors clamped down in the fourth quarter to pull away to a 121-109 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday in game one of their NBA playoff series.
Golden State, aiming to get back to the NBA finals for a third straight year and regain the crown they surrendered last season to the Cleveland Cavaliers, had 32 points from Kevin Durant in his first playoff game as a Warrior.
Stephen Curry added 29. Draymond Green was everywhere, finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, five blocked shots and three steals for the Warriors.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler scored 15 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter as the Chicago Bulls held on to beat the Boston Celtics 106-102 in the opener of a first-round Eastern Conference series.
Golden State withstood 75 combined points from the Trail Blazers duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to triumph in a game that saw 22 lead changes.
They were tied at halftime and knotted at 88-88 after three quarters.
But the Warriors opened the fourth frame with a 15-2 scoring run to seize control.
Backup point guard Ian Clark contributed seven points in the flurry, but it was increased defensive pressure that really turned the tide.
“We let them get to their spots in the first half,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “they still made some tough shots, which they’re going to do. I thought we did a better job in the second half of being a little more physical.”
The Trail Blazers pulled within 105-99 with 5:16 to play. But Green tipped in a Curry miss and Durant produced three straight baskets to stretch Golden State’s lead to 113-99 with 3:36 remaining.
Durant, acquired as a free agent after the Warriors’ loss to the Cavs in last year’s finals, connected on 12 of his 20 shots and also pulled down 10 rebounds.
Game two of the series, a rematch of a Western Conference semi-final last season, is on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in the West, the Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder tipped off in a series featuring the top contenders in the Most Valuable Player race — Thunder star Russell Westbrook and the Rockets’ James Harden.
Sunday’s Eastern Conference action got under way in Washington, where John Wall scored 15 of his 32 points in a dominant third quarter to lead the Wizards to a 114-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in their series opener.
Wall also handed out 14 assists while teammate Bradley Beal scored 22 points and Markieff Morris added 21.
German guard Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 25 points and Paul Millsap had 19. Atlanta made 32 of 39 free throws, but connected on just 43.6 percent of their shots from the floor and turned the ball over 21 times.
In Boston, Butler scored five points during an 8-0 run midway through the final period that put the Bulls in control on an emotional night at the Boston Garden.
Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas played the day after his younger sister, Chyna, was killed in a car accident.
Thomas led the Celtics with 33 points, hitting a layup with seven seconds left to cut Chicago’s lead to 104-102.
But Butler dribbled off a few seconds and sealed the victory with a two free throws with just three seconds on the clock.
Game two of the series is Tuesday at the Garden.
The Portland Trail Blazers closed out the shorthanded Los Angeles Clippers in six games on Friday night, while the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat both lived to fight another day.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 46 points to lead the Trail Blazers past the Clippers 106-103 at Portland’s Moda Center.
Lillard scored 26 points and McCollum added 20 as the Trail Blazers closed out the Clippers in six games in their first-round NBA playoff series.
Indiana overpowered the Toronto Raptors in the second half of the game to stay alive and level their series 3-3 with a 101-83 victory.
The Heat also bought themselves more postseason time with a 97-90 victory over the Charlotte Hornets to even their East series at three games all.
Mason Plumlee contributed nine points — including the deciding three free throws in the final 14.7 seconds — and grabbed 14 rebounds for Portland, which opens second round Sunday at Golden State against the Warriors.
“I was really happy with the way we executed down the stretch. We did the things necessary to win the game,” Lillard said.
Jamal Crawford came off the bench for a career playoff-high 32 points for the Clippers, but missed on a driving layup that could have tied the game in the closing seconds.
Austin Rivers collected 22 points, eight assists and six rebounds while DeAndre Jordan had 15 points and 20 boards for the losers. River needed 11 stitches around his eye after taking an elbow in the face in the first quarter while going for a rebound. He left for repairs before returning in the second quarter.
Clippers blamed the loss on the injuries to star guard Chris Paul and forward Blake Griffin as they joined the Boston Celtics (1990-93) as the only teams eliminated in four straight playoffs after having series leads.
“You can only control so many things and injuries is something you can’t control. If you took off the two best players from any team in the league they would struggle,” said Crawford.
After leading 65-64 late in the third quarter, Indiana used a 32-5 surge to increase its lead to 97-69 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter in front of a crowd of 18,100 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse arena in Indianapolis.
The Pacers scored the fourth quarter’s first six points and led 77-64 with 10:38 remaining as the Raptors called a timeout. The run became 12-0 for an 83-64 advantage as Indiana shot 64 percent from the field in the second half.
Rookie Myles Turner had 15 points and nine rebounds for Indiana, Monta Ellis scored 14 and George Hill and Ian Mahinmi each scored 12.
Cory Joseph had 15 for Toronto, DeMarre Carroll also scored 15, Jonas Valanciunas tallied 14 points and nine rebounds and Kyle Lowry scored 10.
Indiana opened the third quarter with a 15-6 run and scored the third quarter’s final six points to lead 71-64 heading into the fourth.
The Pacers outscored the Raptors 31-20 in the third quarter and outrebounded Toronto 12-5 in the period.
Dwyane Wade scored 23 points and hit two clutch shots in the final minute for the Heat, who led by as many as 13 in the first half and 12 in the second thanks to 60 percent shooting from the field in the first half.
Game seven is scheduled for Sunday in Miami.
The Heat also got 21 points from Luol Deng, 14 from Goran Dragic, 12 from Hassan Whiteside and 11 from Joe Johnson, who capped the scoring with two free throws with five seconds remaining.
The Chicago Bulls welcomed former NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose back from injury Wednesday with a convincing 104-80 win over the New York Knicks.
The return of Rose and the addition of Spanish veteran Pau Gasol have branded the Bulls as Eastern Conference contenders in 2014-15, and they looked the part at Madison Square Garden.
“I wouldn’t say my rust is knocked off, but it’s getting there,” said Rose, who missed the final 71 games of last season with a torn meniscus after missing all of the previous campaign recovering from a torn knee ligament.
“I can’t be content with how I’m performing,” he added. “I have to put it behind me whether it’s good or bad and make sure I stay consistent with my workouts. Physically, I feel good.” Both Rose and Gasol made key contributions. Rose — the 2011 NBA MVP — scored 13 points with five assists in his long awaited regular-season return and off-season acquisition Gasol putting up 21 points with 11 rebounds.
Taj Gibson scored 22 points in 28 minutes off the bench for the Bulls, who connected on better than 50 percent of their shots from the field and effectively smothered the Knicks offense.
In all the Bulls received 55 points from their reserves, with Aaron Brooks netting 13 and 2014 first-round draft pick Doug McDermott scoring 12 in his NBA debut.
For New York, it was a disappointing start to the head coaching tenure of Derek Fisher, the former player drafted to implement the Phil Jackson triangle offense.
Carmelo Anthony was held to 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting and the Knicks finished a lackluster 3-for-17 from three-point range.
Amare Stoudemire was New York’s only other player to score in double figures, with 12 points to go with his eight rebounds.
Rose acknowledged he was eager to get back on an NBA court for the first time since surgery last November, but said he wasn’t harboring any unrealistic expectations for himself.
“It’s still going to take some time,” he said. “I’m not worried about that. I might have some bad games here and there. But that’s not going to stop me from trying to be aggressive.”
The second night of the season saw Miami open their post-LeBron James era with a bang as Chris Bosh scored 26 points and 15 rebounds in the Heat’s 107-95 victory over Washington.
Bosh, who saw his numbers dwindle in each of the four seasons that superstar James played for the Heat, inked a five-year $118 million deal in the offseason to stay in Miami, while James opted to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio.
Turns out the Heat, who won two titles in four trips to the NBA finals in James’ four years in Miami, didn’t need “King James” to put on a show.
Dwyane Wade scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter while Norris Cole added 23 and off-season acquisition Luol Deng of Britain scored 12 in his Miami debut.
“It’s good,” Bosh said. “I need a couple of ‘I told you so’ moments throughout the course of the season.” James, meanwhile, will launch his second stint in Cleveland on Thursday, when the Cavaliers open their season hosting the Knicks.
Oklahoma City looked to be off to a solid start even without injured NBA MVP Kevin Durant, but the Portland Trail Blazers out-scored the Thunder 31-12 in the fourth quarter as they rallied for a 106-89 win.
The Trail Blazers overcame a 38-point performance by the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, who cooled off dramatically in the final period, connecting on just one of six shots from the floor.
Highlights of Wednesday’s other NBA games
Hornets 108, Bucks 106: Guard Kemba Walker scored 26 points, including a three-pointer with 1.6 seconds in regulation to tie the score and the game-winner with 5.1 seconds left in overtime, as the Charlotte Hornets rallied to beat Milwaukee.
The Hornets overcame a 24-point deficit in the second half, closing regulation with a 18-5 run that included a 9-0 spurt.
A loud sellout crowd of 19,439 was on hand at Time Warner Cable Arena as the Hornets reclaimed their nickname after being the Charlotte Bobcats the past 10 seasons.
The original Hornets played in Charlotte from 1988-2002 before the franchise was moved to New Orleans, who decided in 2013 to change their name to the Pelicans.
Celtics 121, Nets 105: Point guard Rajon Rondo, who missed the pre-season with a broken hand sustained in a household fall, scored 13 points, dished out 12 assists and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Boston to a rout of Brooklyn.
Center Kelly Olynyk scored 19 points, forward Jeff Green had 17, guard Avery Bradley 15, forward Jared Sullinger 13 and swingman Evan Turner, rookie guard Marcus Smart and guard Marcus Thornton 10 apiece for Boston. Forward Mirza Teletovic led the Nets, who were playing their first game under new coach Lionel Hollins, with 20 points.
The Celtics, who led by 26 points at halftime, built a 29-point lead through three quarters before the Nets made a mild run at the start of the fourth.
Pacers 103, 76ers 91: Center Roy Hibbert, the only available returning starter from Indiana’s divisional winning team last season, scored 22 points, while the Pacers used a strong 30-22 third quarter as the springboard for a victory over Philadelphia.
Hibbert, who had eight rebounds and seven blocks, got support from guards Donald Sloan and Rodney Stuckey down the stretch after Philadelphia closed to 93-89.
Indiana finished with a 10-2 run to win by 12. Sloan and Stuckey scored 16 points apiece for the Pacers.
Guard Tony Wroten led the Sixers with 22 points.
Raptors 109, Hawks 102: Center Jonas Valanciunas led the way with a team-high 17 points and eight rebounds as Toronto opened their 20th season in the NBA with a victory over Atlanta.
Raptors forward Amir Johnson finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, the largest opening-night totals of his 10-year career. Despite shooting just 4-for-16 from the field, guard DeMar DeRozan scored 15 points, recorded a career-high six steals and set a personal best with 11 rebounds.
Guards Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver and forward Mike Scott each scored 20 points for Atlanta.