Basketball

Durant, Thompson sink Spurs; D-Wade stuns Sixers

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

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Los Angeles, United States (AFP) — Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson handed San Antonio a painful shooting lesson as Golden State took a grip on their Western Conference play-off duel on Monday.

Durant and Thompson both weighed in with 30-point games as the Warriors powered to a 116-101 win that puts the NBA champions 2-0 up in their best-of-seven series.

The Warriors — still missing the injured talisman Stephen Curry — outclassed a physical San Antonio from three-point range in a devastating display of scoring.

Golden State made 15 of 31 attempts from three-point range, contrasting sharply with San Antonio, who could only muster four from 28 attempts.

Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich pinpointed his team's failure to threaten from distance as the principal factor in the loss.

“The ball has to go in the basket,” Popovich said. “That's the difference in the ball game. They shot 50 per cent of threes; we made 14 per cent, four of 28 or something. That's tough to overcome.

“You've got to make shots. And it's been like that the entire year on the road for us, for whatever reason. And it really showed up tonight. That made it very difficult.”

San Antonio started strongly with LaMarcus Aldridge — who finished with 34 points — driving the Spurs forward as they shaded the first period 25-23.

The visitors continued to rally in the second quarter and had moved into a 53-47 lead at half-time.

But Golden State's relentless pressure and offensive variety inevitably began to tell in the second half.

Durant finished with 32 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Thompson had 31 points with five assists.

“They took it to us first half,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said.

“But in the second half we matched that effort level and physicality and were able to get that upper hand.”

The Warriors now head to San Antonio for game three on Thursday.

In the Eastern Conference, Dwyane Wade produced a vintage performance as the Miami Heat ended Philadelphia's 17-game winning streak to level their series 1-1.

Wade, 36, scored 28 points in 25 minutes as Miami stunned the 76ers' home crowd into silence with a 113-103 victory.

It was a superb display from Wade, a three-time NBA champion who started this season with Cleveland before rejoining Miami in February before the trade deadline.

Wade's experience proved crucial throughout, inspiring a first-half fightback to wipe out the 76ers' early lead before shepherding Miami to the win in a nervy finale.

Wade, who also had seven rebounds and three assists, was backed by 20 points from Goran Dragic and 18 points from James Johnson.

“I just came in with an aggressive approach,” Wade said afterwards. “I told myself that whatever minutes I was going to play, I was going to do it aggressively.

“Once the balls start falling for you then it just goes from there.

“I love the stage. I play the game for these moments: To be able to come through for your team when they need you feels good.”

Philadelphia, meanwhile, were left reflecting on their first loss since early March, jolting their momentum as the series heads to Miami for game three on Thursday.

Ben Simmons led the Philadelphia scoring with 24 points, with Dario Saric adding 23 and Marco Belinelli 16.

Sixers Coach Brett Brown was later forced to respond to a profane social media post from injured star Joel Embiid, who wrote of his frustration at being “babied” after watching the defeat from the sidelines.

“He just wants to play basketball, to be with his team, to play in front of the fans,” Brown said.

“When he's not able to do that he gets frustrated and I respect his frustration.”

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