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SPORTS

Warriors come out swinging, complete sweep of Trail Blazers

BASKETBALL By AFP | April 26th 2017
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) looks for an open teammate past Miami Heat guard Rodney McGruder (17) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The Golden State Warriors punched their ticket to the second round of the NBA playoffs in emphatic style on Monday, with a 128-103 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Stephen Curry scored 37 points with eight assists and seven rebounds before sitting out the fourth quarter as the Warriors wrapped up a four-game sweep of the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series.

The Warriors’ 45 first-quarter points tied the NBA record for the most points scored in the opening period of a playoff game, and left the Trail Blazers reeling on their home floor in Portland.

“There was a sense of urgency,” said Curry, who made 12 of 20 shots from the field, including seven of 11 from three-point range. “There was a nice energy before the game.”

Kevin Durant, sidelined the past two games with a left calf injury, scored 10 points in 20 minutes on the floor and Draymond Green added 21.

In the next round the Warriors will face either the Los Angeles Clippers or Utah Jazz, whose series was knotted at two games apiece.

The Warriors scored the first 14 points of the game and were up 28-5 six minutes into the contest.

Durant got things rolling with a pull-up three-pointer and followed up with a transition dunk, quickly allaying any fears his calf might still be troubling him.

“That was unbelievable,” Mike Brown, standing in as head coach as Steve Kerr battles recurring symptoms related to his back surgery two years ago, said of the first quarter.

“Everything we did we tried to do at a high level, and it worked,” Brown said. “It was fun to watch and fun to be a part of.”

Damian Lillard scored 34 points for the Trail Blazers, but it was really no contest against a Warriors team trying to return to the NBA Finals for a third straight year and regain the crown they surrendered to the Cleveland Cavaliers last season.

“(The Warriors) showed their championship pedigree tonight,” Lillard said. “When you can’t sustain your mental focus against them, in five minutes you can be down 25 points.”

Curry said the performance should be a blueprint for the rest of the playoffs.

“The way we played tonight on both ends of the floor is a great recipe for success down the road.” 

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