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Durant Thompson Lead Warriors To A 2-0 Series Lead On Spurs

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Kevin Durant sparked a decisive third-quarter run on the way to 32 points, Klay Thompson added 31 points and five assists in another superb playoff performance and the Golden State Warriors rallied in the second half to beat the San Antonio Spurs 116-101 on Monday night for a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.

As Stephen Curry remains out likely for the entire series nursing a sprained left knee, the defending champions used all the offensive power they had to take both home games in the best-of-seven series. Wearing a dark checkered sport coat, Curry was all smiles watching another lopsided win without him.

Thompson followed up his brilliant 11-for-13 shooting day in a 113-92 Game 1 rout Saturday by hitting 12 of 20 shots. Durant also had six rebounds and six assists for the Warriors, who went without key backup big man David West down the stretch after he sprained his left ankle early in the fourth.

Coach Steve Kerr stuck with JaVale McGee as his starting center and the 7-footer contributed 10 points and seven rebounds as the well-rounded defending champions again showed off their remarkable depth.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 34 for the Spurs and Rudy Gay moved into the starting lineup and scored 12 points.

Game 3 is Thursday as the series shifts to San Antonio.

Thompson managed just three shots in the first quarter and began 1 for 5. He pounded the basketball down with two hands, frustrated, midway through the second quarter. Then he found his groove.

A baseline 3 with 55.9 seconds left before halftime was his first of the night and got Golden State within 49-45 before the Spurs took a 53-47 lead at intermission.

Draymond Green began 0 for 5 before his first basket on the opening possession of the fourth quarter and Durant missed his five 3-point tries in the first half then finally hit from deep early in the third.

The Warriors opened the third on a 19-5 run to take charge but this time the Spurs didn’t go away.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich went with Gay in the starting lineup for Kyle Anderson in an effort to generate more scoring — and his team still struggled to make shots.

Popovich said before the game that Golden State in Game 1 played “the most stifling defense we faced all year long. That was the best defensive 48 minutes that we have competed against all year long.”

Kerr knew Popovich would have his team better prepared.

And the Spurs showed higher intensity on both ends through the first half, working to keep the ball out of Durant’s hands or contest shots while jumping in passing lanes to force mistakes.

Andre Iguodala, the 2015 Finals MVP, started a second straight game and had 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Warriors beat the Spurs for the 10th time in 11 games covering the regular season and playoffs.

San Antonio struggled from the floor for the second straight game, finishing 35 for 85 (41.2 percent). In Game 1, the Spurs shot 40 just percent while going 9 for 22 from deep and got outrebounded 51-30.

TIP-INS

Spurs: Aldridge made all 12 of his free throws. … The Spurs missed 9 of their first 11 3s and were 4 for 28 from long range. … San Antonio lost its sixth straight games overall against the Warriors at Oracle Arena. … The Spurs took their first lead of the series, 18-17, with 4:20 left in the first quarter. They trailed from wire to wire in the series opener.

Warriors: After getting 32 assists on 44 field goals in the series opener, the Warriors tallied 24 assists on 41 baskets. … Golden State has won nine straight postseason Game 2s, all at home, and 11 consecutive home playoff games overall.

RELIABLE WEST

West scored on three straight second-quarter possessions and finished with 10 points and four rebounds in 14 minutes.

But he got injured with 9:59 left defending Aldridge and headed to the locker room, despite appearing to try stretching out his legs to return.

QUOTEABLE

Popovich on whether he saw potential in Kerr to coach during Kerr’s four years for San Antonio:

“Oh, sure, I mean are you kidding me? He played for Phil (Jackson) for 97 years and he learned a lot and won championships. … He’s a no-brainer.”

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

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Kucherov Lightning Beat Devils 3-1 End First-round Series

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Nikita Kucherov and the Tampa Bay Lightning are moving on in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Kucherov scored his 27th career postseason goal and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 shots as the top seed in the Eastern Conference beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 on Saturday to end the first-round series in five games.

Mikhail Sergachev became the youngest player in Lightning history to score a playoff goal and Ryan Callahan, back in the lineup after missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury, sealed it with an empty-netter with 1.7 seconds remaining.

Tampa Bay, which won the first two games at home before splitting a pair on the road, advances to a second-round series against the winner of the first-round matchup between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Kucherov, who had 100 points during the regular season, had five goals and five assists in the series. His sizzling shot past goalie Cory Schneider put Tampa Bay up 2-0 at 12:27 of the third period, and his 10 points were the most ever for a Tampa Bay player in a playoff series

Sergachev, at 19 years, 300 days, became the youngest player in franchise history to score a playoff goal, giving the Lightning a 1-0 lead in the first period.

Schneider did all he could to give the Devils a chance to extend their first playoff appearance since 2012. He stopped 35 of 37 shots, including Tyler Johnson’s breakaway that kept New Jersey within striking distance after Kyle Palmieri trimmed Tampa Bay’s lead to one goal with three minutes left.

Will Butcher and Taylor Hall assisted on the only goal for New Jersey, which played without injured defenseman Sami Vatanen.

Sergachev was second among NHL rookie defensemen in scoring with 40 points (nine goals, 31 assists) during the regular season and had had an assist for his first career postseason point in his playoff debut in Game 1.

New Jersey kept it close, killing off four consecutive penalties in the second period, when the Lightning outshot the Devils 18-4 but couldn’t expand its one-goal lead.

Schneider had two more saves early in the third as Tampa Bay sputtered on a fifth power-play opportunity.

Notes: The Lightning was 0-for-10 on the power play in Games 4 and 5, yet won both games. … Vatanen, New Jersey’s top defenseman, was injured during the opening period of Game 4 when he was checked high by Kucherov. The Devils also played without RW Stefan Noesen, who was scratched with a lower-body injury. … Callahan (upper body) returned after missing Games 3 and 4.

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More AP hockey: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

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Backstrom Scores In Ot Caps Take 3-2 Series Lead On Jackets

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Nicklas Backstrom scored his second goal of the game 11:53 into overtime to give the Washington Capitals a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday and a 3-2 lead in the first-round playoff series.

Braden Holtby made 16 of his 39 saves in the third period to help Washington get to overtime. Four of five games between the teams have gone past regulation making fatigue a factor for Game 6 Monday night in Columbus.

Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie scored along with Backstrom in regulation for the Capitals, who became the first home team this series to win a home game. Holtby has been in net for Washington’s three consecutive victories after replacing Philipp Grubauer in Game 2, stopping 102 of 108 shots to turn the tide.

Fellow Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky allowed a soft goal to Kuznetsov as one of his four on 29 shots in the loss. Matt Calvert scored shorthanded and on a breakaway and Oliver Bjorkstrand had a deflection goal for Columbus.

Holtby said Friday referees have done a good job in the playoffs calling it like the regular season, and that trend continued in abundance in Game 5. An early roughing call on Washington’s Lars Eller yielded nothing, and a slash by Columbus’ Thomas Vanek actually led to a shorthanded goal by Calvert 10:08 into the first period.

Backstrom tied the score at 1 less than three minutes later, banking the puck off Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard’s left skate and watching it trickle down Bobrovsky’s back and in for his first goal of the playoffs.

The parade to the penalty box continued in the second period of a sloppy, mistake-filled game. A bad line change by the Blue Jackets gave the Capitals a 3-on-1 rush that was easier than any power play, with Kuznetsov going five-hole on Bobrovsky 3:21 into the second.

Just 84 seconds later, a turnover by Oshie sprung Calvert on his highlight-reel breakaway during which he whiffed on a shot before spinning, scoring and following the puck into the net. Riding a streak of double-digit penalties killed, the Capitals cashed in on their fourth power play of the game 16:42 into the second when Oshie tipped John Carlson’s point shot past Bobrovsky.

Carlson’s primary assist gave the pending unrestricted free agent defenseman eight points in the series.

A failed clear by the Capitals allowed the Blue Jackets to tie the score again 2:30 into the third period when Bjorkstrand got the tip of his blade on Ian Cole’s point shot to deflect the puck between Holtby and the post. Holtby made several big saves in the third period to keep the game going, including a stop on Pierre-Luc Dubois on a rebound and again as the 19-year-old center tried to bat the puck out of the air.

NOTES: Just 26 of the first 40 minutes were played at 5-on-5. … Thirteen of the Capitals’ past 24 playoff games have been decided in overtime. … Blue Jackets C Alexander Wennberg returned after missing Games 2, 3 and 4 following a hit to the head from Tom Wilson. He replaced Sonny Milano in the lineup. … The Capitals made no changes after winning back-to-back games in Columbus, keeping Chandler Stephenson on the second line in the absence of Andre Burakovsky, who’s out for at least the remainder of the series with an upper-body injury.

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Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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Matt Harvey Not Happy About Being Taken Out Of The Mets Starting Rotation

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New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey has lost his spot in the starting rotation, manager Mickey Callaway announced Saturday.

Harvey, who will be available coming out of the bullpen starting Tuesday, was not happy about the decision.

“It’s the decision that they made. I have to suck it up and go out there and do everything I can to get things back in gear,” he said. “I don’t have to agree with it but I have to go out there and do the best I can to get things going and do everything I can to help this team get back to where I believe I can help this team, and that’s as a starter.

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“On a scale of 1 to 10, obviously I’m at a 10 with being pissed off, but my performance hasn’t been there and I just have to do whatever I have to do to get back in the starting rotation. And that’s right now go to the bullpen and work on some things, get some things back to where they need to be and get my (s—) in order and figure it out.”

“He threw a bullpen today, and he’ll be available Tuesday,” Callaway said. “I don’t think he is obviously very happy about it. I wouldn’t say he’s discouraged. I think he’s motivated to go out there and show everybody that he can be a starter again at some point.

“He can help us . . . it’s inevitable that he’s going to make more starts for us this year. That’s how baseball goes. Everybody uses tons of starters; 11 was the average last year for every team.”

Since a solid first start, Harvey has struggled, most recently when he allowed six earned runs in the first three innings Thursday night in Atlanta as the Braves beat New York 12-4. That dropped Harvey to 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA. In 26 innings over four starts, he’s allowed 26 hits, four home runs and four walks.

With the return of injured left-handed starter? Jason Vargas imminent, the Mets have been considering going to a six-man rotation or moving a current starter to the bullpen.

Instead, lefty Zack Wheeler (1-1, 2.77) will remain in the rotation with Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz. Vargas, recovering from a broken bone on his non-pitching hand, will make a rehabilitation start Monday for Triple-A Las Vegas and then join the rotation.

Harvey, 29, has allowed a combined 14 runs in his last three starts. He was 5-7 with a 6.70 ERA in 2017.

The right-hander was an All-Star in 2013, but missed the 2014 season following Tommy John surgery. He helped the Mets reach the World Series in 2015, missed half of the 2016 season following surgery to correct Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, and he was out more than two months last season with a right shoulder injury.

Harvey has started 104 major league games and come out of the bullpen just once, doing it last season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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