NBA: Warriors hold off Rockets for 2-0 series lead, Bucks power past Celtics

Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors (right) drives on Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets in Game Two of the Second Round of the 2019 NBA Western Conference Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on April 30, 2019.
Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors (right) drives on Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets in Game Two of the Second Round of the 2019 NBA Western Conference Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on April 30, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Kevin Durant scored 29 points and Klay Thompson added 21 on Tuesday (April 30) as the Golden State Warriors downed the Houston Rockets 115-109 in a bruising NBA play-off clash.

The reigning champion Warriors never trailed, but they had to battle to the end to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series, which shifts to Houston for Game 3 on Saturday.

Both teams had injury scares in the first quarter, when Houston's 2018 Most Valuable Player James Harden departed with a left eye injury after he was inadvertently swiped in the face by Draymond Green as they battled for the ball.

Warriors guard Stephen Curry left briefly with a dislocated middle finger on his left hand, returning with it taped up before the quarter ended.

Harden returned in the second quarter, but appeared to feel discomfort from the injury during the game, sometimes squinting in the bright lights.

"He got raked pretty good in the eyes," Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said of Harden, who finished with 29 points - including 13 in the fourth quarter.

"I'm sure he would have loved to have played better, but under the circumstances I thought he played great."

D'Antoni said he knew Harden would return to the contest unless the injury was "catastrophic" but even with their superstar on the court, the Rockets couldn't find a way past the Warriors.

"Tonight we just stayed the course," Thompson said.

Houston trimmed a 15-point deficit to three points in the fourth quarter, but their 18 turnovers, leading to 24 Warriors points, were ultimately too costly.

Curry helped the Warriors' cause with 20 points and Green contributed a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds along with seven assists.

"We had our chances toward the end," D'Antoni said. "They made big plays."

Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks bounced back with a vengeance on Tuesday, routing the Boston Celtics 123-102 to tie their Eastern Conference series at one game apiece.

The top-seeded Bucks, who fell 112-90 at home to the Celtics in the series opener, weren't about to allow a repeat.

Antetokounmpo scored 29 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and Khris Middleton connected on seven of 10 from three-point range on the way to 28 points as the Bucks regained home court advantage in the series.

"We got an ass-whupping in Game 1, so we had to get Game 2," Antetokounmpo said. "It's tough when a team come into your home and get the two first games so we had that in the back of our minds. We came out, we played hard, we moved the ball, we trusted one another and that's why we got a win."

The Bucks drained a club play-off record 20 three-pointers and clamped down defensively, seizing control with 35 points in the third quarter in a game in which they led by as many as 30 points.

Marcus Morris led the Celtics with 17 points as star guard Kyrie Irving was held to nine points - connecting on just four of 18 shots from the field.

Antetokounmpo said the Bucks will need to come up with more of the same when the series shifts to Boston for Game 3 on Friday.

"We've just got to pick it up from where we left off this game," he said.