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Kevin Durant blisters Utah Jazz, lifting Golden State to 3-0 series lead

By
John Coon, The Sports Xchange
Kevin Durant took the game over, scoring 38 to lead Golden State to a 3-0 series lead over Utah on Saturday night. Photo courtesy Golden State Warriors via Twitter
Kevin Durant took the game over, scoring 38 to lead Golden State to a 3-0 series lead over Utah on Saturday night. Photo courtesy Golden State Warriors via Twitter

SALT LAKE CITY -- When he saw shots weren't falling for his teammates, Kevin Durant went to work reviving the Golden State Warriors' offense.

Durant did a little bit of everything through four quarters. He drained step-back and fadeaway jumpers, cut to the rim for layups and buried timely 3-pointers.

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The former NBA MVP didn't merely experience a good shooting night. He scorched the nets for the better part of 48 minutes.

Durant finished with postseason-highs of 38 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Warriors to a 102-91 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.

Golden State took a 3-0 lead in their Western Conference semifinals series.

The Warriors moved one game closer to reaching the Western Conference finals after Durant posted a second straight 30-point, 10-rebound game. He bailed out Golden State on a night where the shots were not falling for the rest of his teammates.

"The other 19,000 people in the arena and everyone else watching on TV saw the same thing I saw." Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. "It's an easy decision at that moment, try to set a screen for him, get him in the right spot and he does the rest."

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Curry added 23 points on 6-of-20 shooting for Golden State, which has won 22 of its last 23 games. The only setback came on a 105-99 loss to Utah on April 10.

Durant shot 15-of-26 from the field, including a team-high four 3-pointers. He kept the Warriors going even as the Jazz pulled ahead late in the first half and led by as many as nine points in the third quarter.

He stayed patient and trusted in the work he put in going into the game and it paid off.

"I try to use my length and shoot over guys," Durant said. "(Rudy) Gobert is a load down there in the paint, so I know I just can't go in there and throw up anything. I just try to be cerebral every time down, but also be aggressive and my teammates open it up a lot for me."

Gordon Hayward scored 29 points while Rudy Gobert added 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Jazz. All five starters scored in double figures for Utah, but it wasn't enough to overcome a fourth-quarter surge by the Warriors.

Trailing 79-78 midway through the fourth, Golden State seized the lead for good on back-to-back layups from Draymond Green and Durant. The Jazz cut the deficit to a basket after Hayward buried three free throws to make it 86-84.

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Curry and Durant answered with back-to-back 3-pointers. Then Curry added three free throws to finish off a 9-0 run and put the Warriors up 95-84 with 2:36 remaining.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder felt like his team executed better defensively, but thought Durant and Curry absorbed the pressure well late in the game.

"For the most part, our guys just really dug in and I can't say enough about how we competed," Snyder said. "I can't say enough about the team that beat us. They beat us and I don't think there's any shame in that right now for our group."

Utah held a lead in the fourth despite starting the game by shooting 28.6 percent in the first quarter. The Jazz eventually took a 50-49 lead by halftime.

Once in front, Utah built a cushion early in the third quarter. Hayward ignited a 12-2 run with a jumper and fueled it with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Jazz a 62-53 lead before Golden State came back.

Zaza Pachulia completed a 3-point play and Durant buried a 3-pointer to bring Golden State back within a basket. The Warriors finally overtook Utah again behind back-to-back baskets from Curry, who put Golden State up 67-66 after he missed his previous 10 shots.

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The Warriors managed to take a 72-70 lead into the fourth despite shooting just 8-of-24 from the field in the third.

Taking care of the ball helped Golden State in the end. The Warriors matched their postseason low with only seven turnovers and had zero after halftime.

"Give our guys credit," Warriors acting coach Mike Brown said. "They stayed poised. They could have caved at any time, especially in the third when Utah went on a run. But they just stayed with it. There was no panic involved or anything like that, especially during timeouts in the huddle."

NOTES: Jazz PG George Hill (toe) missed his second straight game. ... Warriors F Andre Iguodala played in his 100th career playoff game. ... Jazz C Rudy Gobert went 7-of-15 from the free throw line. Gobert was responsible for all but two of the total missed free throws for Utah. ... Warriors PG Stephen Curry has made 270 career 3-pointers in the postseason. Curry has made at least one 3-pointer in an NBA-record 65 playoff games.

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