NBA playoffs: Warriors, Rockets on verge of West finals meeting, though Chris Paul isn’t looking ahead

Neither a New Orleans Pelicans nor a Utah Jazz could get it finished in Game 4, and a Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets now lead their array 3-1, respectively.  Follow along here for a latest research and explanation from The Post’s NBA contributor Tim Bontemps, and ask him questions in a comments section. Catch adult on yesterday’s games here.

• Could this finally be a Rockets year to advance? Chris Paul is focused on Game 5; he’s been adult 3-1 before.

• The Warriors stopped messing around in Game 4 and put a New Orleans in a 3-1 hole as a array shifts behind to Oakland.

• Golden State doesn’t need Steph Curry to be great. The organisation has Kevin Durant after all to lift a load.

Chris Paul has famously been incompetent to make it to a discussion finals in his initial 12 seasons in a NBA.

Now in this, his 13th season, Paul finds himself on a verge of creation it to a Western Conference finals for a initial time in his career after scoring 27 points and dishing out 12 assists to lead a Rockets to a 100-87 feat over a Jazz Sunday night.

But nonetheless copiousness of people are already looking brazen to a Rockets confronting a Golden State Warriors – who went adult 3-1 in their possess Western Conference semifinal array Sunday afternoon with a blowout win over a New Orleans Pelicans – Paul isn’t one of them.

“Nah, it’s a process, man,” Paul pronounced in his walkoff talk with TNT’s Kristen Ledlow after Sunday’s feat here during Vivint Smart Home Arena. “I’ve been here before, 3-1.

“S— went bad genuine quick.”

It was a singular tellurian impulse from Paul with a media, as he’s mostly clever and calculating with his disproportion in public.

But it also is an admission, possibly he’d acknowledge it or not, that his Los Angeles Clippers unwell to tighten out a 3-1 array lead over his stream organisation in 2015 still haunts him.

And, predictably, Paul upheld on a possibility to acknowledge it when he was asked about his comments when they came adult again a few mins after in his postgame press conference.

“Oh, no. James [Harden] was fouling. They was cheating,” Paul said, referring to that 2015 series, as everybody in a room laughed. “I don’t remember. we don’t remember. we got that out of my brain. That’s out.”

When a follow-up doubt came Paul’s way, Harden – now his co-star with a Rockets – chimed in.

“He doesn’t even need to consider about that, honestly,” Harden said. “We’ve got a diversion on Tuesday, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to tighten it out. we don’t know what he’s thinking, yet we know he’s not meditative that.

“As a team, we’re usually personification for any other, and we’re going to go out and play out butts off and win a game.”

There were a few differences between that array and this one. In that one, Houston was a adored team, and so had home games in 5 and 7. This time, Houston would have to remove to Utah twice during home to remove a series. And it still compulsory a Clippers to blow a 17-point fourth entertain lead on their home justice in Game 6 of that array – mostly with Harden anchored to a dais – to give a Rockets a possibility to advance.

This Houston organisation had a NBA’s best unchanging deteriorate record and is deliberate a usually genuine barrier to a intensity Warriors repeat this season. Now that a Rockets are within a diversion of accomplishing a thought they’ve set out to grasp all deteriorate – removing a shot during a Warriors in a discussion finals – it’s tough to see them vouchsafing it get divided from them now.

That’s generally loyal after an considerable span of victories here in Utah that saw a Rockets go from being in a 1-1 tie with a Jazz entering this weekend, with people jealous how they would respond, to going behind to Houston adult 3-1 and with a array resolutely behind underneath their control.

“That’s accurately what it was,” D’Antoni said. “They came out with a lot of energy, and removing into us, and unequivocally we couldn’t even run a set given they’re so into it a turn couldn’t move.

“That was hard-fought. That was a tough one.”

And, given a Rockets emerged from it unscathed, Paul finds himself behind where he was 3 years ago – when, as he colorfully put it, things went bad for him and a Clippers.

This time, things should finish differently.

The Rockets came to Salt Lake City with people wondering possibly this competence be a latest instance of them vouchsafing a deteriorate get divided from them prematurely.

They leave Salt Lake City within one feat of a outing to a Western Conference finals after a span of considerable victories.

Behind 27 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists from Chris Paul and 24 points from James Harden, Houston emerged with a 100-87 feat over Utah in Game 4 of this Western Conference semifinal in a physical, quarrelsome diversion in front of a rough throng that gave a Rockets a 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven series.

Donovan Mitchell had 25 points in 38 mins for a Jazz, yet fouled out and shot usually 8 for 24 as Clint Capela once again wreaked massacre in a paint for Houston. The Swiss large male had 12 points and 15 rebounds in 37 minutes, and dominated his sold matchup with Jazz core Rudy Gobert for a second loyal game.

Houston gave Utah a possibility in this one by going 10 for 38 from three-point operation and sharpened 42 percent from a margin overall. The Jazz, though, managed to fire usually 38.6 percent overall, and 7 for 29 from three. Already an offensively challenged team, a Jazz indispensable to fire good to kick a high-octane Rockets. When they didn’t, they didn’t mount many of a chance.

Something to ensure after this game: There seemed to be some kind of emanate with Chris Paul’s brother, C.J., during this game.

At one point, he was escorted from his chair by security, with both Rockets Coach Mike D’Antoni and Paul himself protesting a decision.

Now, though, C.J. Paul is behind in his seat, with a Rockets adult by 13 in a fourth quarter. Utah was a home to mixed issues with Russell Westbrook during a initial round, remember, including him removing into confrontations with fans during both halftime and during a finish of Game 6 of their initial turn series.

The Jazz are doing their best to hang around. But a Rockets simply have too many firepower – and that’s on a night when they aren’t attack threes.

Through 3 quarters, Houston leads 79-65, with Chris Paul (23 points, 9 assists) and James Harden (21 points) as a usually Rockets in double-figures. That’s given Houston is a total 8 for 31 from three-point operation in this game.

The problem for a Jazz? They are usually 6 for 24. Against a organisation like this, Utah simply has to make outward shots. If it’s not, like it isn’t today, it’s in genuine trouble.

So far, Game 4 of Rockets-Jazz has been Chris Paul and James Harden vs. Donovan Mitchell. And while a rookie has transparent himself utterly good after a delayed start, that’s a conflict Houston is going to win many of a time.

The Rockets lead 58-48 during halftime, with Harden scoring 18 points (14 entrance in a initial quarter) while Paul total 12 points, 7 rebounds and dual assists. Mitchell, meanwhile, has 15 points of his possess to go with dual rebounds and dual assists.

But Dante Exum has 9 points as a subsequent heading scorer for a Jazz … and he didn’t even play in a second entertain given of tainted trouble. Someone else on Utah besides Mitchell needs to step adult to give a Jazz a genuine possibility in this one.

Chris Paul is a superb player. But he can be burdensome to watch.

Take this play during a finish of a initial half of Game 4 conflicting a Jazz. Paul finished a good play to take a turn with a few seconds left in a half, yet instead of going upcourt to get a shot to tighten out a half, he attempted to pull a three-shot tainted on Joe Ingles 75 feet from a basket.

Then, when a tainted wasn’t called, Paul flung a turn behind toward a conflicting basket, and as a horn sounded to finish a half intentionally ran into Ingles again and waved his palm during a referees as he walked off a court. Mike D’Antoni afterwards went and gave arbitrate Ken Mauer a square of his mind, as well.

This is a kind of things Paul tries to do all a time. He’s a male who tries to find each probable loophole in a manners – and afterwards feat them.

Which, again, is since he can be both good and exhausting.

The Jazz have adequate difficulty scoring yet Donovan Mitchell carrying any issues. Early here in Game 4, though, it appears he competence have one.

Mitchell left a dais for a brief time in a second entertain of Game 2, usually to emerge with a fasten pursuit on dual of a fingers on his left hand. He eventually checked behind into a game, yet has been all-but invisible given then.

Joe Ingles has been handling as a indicate ensure offensively, with Mitchell station in a dilemma primarily, yet he after pounded a corner twice, creation one layup and blank another.

Utah needs Mitchell to get going if they wish any possibility to contest in this game. Otherwise, a Jazz simply don’t have adequate firepower to keep up.

The initial entertain of Game 4 went many improved than in Game 3 for a Jazz, yet it still finished with a same result.

Houston leads Utah 30-23 after one here in Salt Lake City, where James Harden already has 14 points – and, some-more importantly, has gotten a Jazz into tainted trouble.

Dante Exum, who scored 9 points for a Jazz, picked adult 3 fouls – including dual in a quarrel late in a entertain when Harden drew hit and got a auspicious whistle. Jae Crowder, who started in place of Derrick Favors, picked adult a span himself.

The Jazz, predictably, came out with distant improved appetite in Game 4, and a Rockets looked a bit some-more restored than they did Friday night. But, in a end, a Jazz were always approaching to have issues gripping adult with Houston on a scoreboard. And, so distant in this game, that’s proof to be loyal once again.

With a Jazz already blank Ricky Rubio, a final thing they need is another damage to a fringe player.

But Rubio’s deputy in a starting lineup, Royce O’Neale, left a diversion in a opening mins after banging knees with a Rockets actor and went loyal to a locker room.

O’Neale has returned to a bench, where he is flexing his left leg still. It stays to be seen if he’ll be back, yet Utah could use him – utterly after he scored 17 points as one of a few brights spots in Utah’s Game 3 loss.

After Golden State’s widespread feat in Game 4 over New Orleans, a contributor asked Warriors Coach Steve Kerr a doubt about a “Hamptons Five” – a tiny lineup featuring a 5 players who met in a Hamptons dual summers ago – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, and a male they were there to recruit: Kevin Durant.

But when a questioner was finished, Kerr couldn’t assistance yet go behind to a thought of job a lineup a “Hamptons Five” – and that it’s usually turn a default name for a group.

“I still am amused that we usually matter of factly call them a Hamptons Five,” Kerr told reporters with a smile. “[The Athletic’s] Tim Kawakami deserves all a credit then.

“I usually feel strange, as a manager saying, ‘Well, a Hamptons Five played good tonight.’

“I can’t contend that. But we can.”

Kawakami is a one who came adult with that word after Durant chose to join a Warriors in Jul of 2016, after that deadly fibre of meetings in a Hamptons where teams came to accommodate him and make their sold pitches.

It was a approach to compute from a “Death Lineup,” that is what Golden State’s bizarre smallball lineup underneath Kerr – featuring a 4 Warriors who met with Durant along with Harrison Barnes – came to be famous as.

But while it’s been picked adult by usually about everybody outward of a Warriors locker room, during least, it appears Kerr isn’t utterly on house with it.

And regardless of what it’s called, it clearly worked like a attract in Game 4.

While Jazz ensure Ricky Rubio’s hamstring will keep him out for Game 4 conflicting a Rockets, brazen Derrick Favors sounds approaching to play by a sprained ankle.

Jazz Coach Quin Snyder pronounced before a diversion that Favors was going to by workouts pregame before a integrity would be finished on his status. But Favors was seen walking by a locker room after Houston’s blowout win in Game 3 with usually some light fasten on his ankle. It would be startling if he sits out.

The Warriors stopped messing around. As a result, they took behind control of their Western Conference semifinal with a Pelicans.

Going to their best lineup – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala – for Game 4 Sunday afternoon served as a matter it was approaching it would be. Golden State jumped out to an early 14-4 lead and never trailed in an contingent 118-92 feat in New Orleans. The win changed a Warriors to within one feat of advancing to a fourth loyal Western Conference finals – a feat they can get Tuesday when they face a Pelicans behind in Oakland in Game 5.

Kevin Durant was unguardable Sunday, scoring 38 points on 15-for-27 shooting, once again exposing a Pelicans’ miss of distance fortifying on a wing. Stephen Curry had a late emanate to finish with 23 points in 32 minutes, as well, while stability to palliate himself behind into diversion transformation after returning in Game 2 of this array from five-and-a-half weeks sidelined with a sprained MCL.

Anthony Davis led a Pelicans with 26 points, 12 rebounds, an assist, a take and dual blocks, and E’Twuan Moore total 20 for New Orleans. Nikola Mirotic, however, went usually 1 for 7 from a field, as a plan of carrying Iguodala ensure him – as he did in a initial dual games when Golden State went tiny – again paid off.

New Orleans also shot 4 for 26 from three. Golden State didn’t fire good from behind a arc, either, going usually 11 for 33. But conflicting a organisation like a Warriors, being outscored by 21 points from behind a arc – not to discuss committing 19 turnovers that became 21 Golden State points – is fatal.

There has been copiousness of discuss over a past week about possibly Stephen Curry is going to be entirely healthy for this playoff run, like he clearly wasn’t dual years ago when Golden State mislaid in 7 games to Cleveland in a NBA Finals.

Here’s a thing, though: Those Warriors didn’t have Kevin Durant. These Warriors do.

So while Curry has been solid, yet unspectacular again in Game 4, Durant has been dominant. With 29 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists in 26 mins so far, Durant has been a disproportion builder in this array – usually as he has been from a impulse he arrived in a Bay Area as a giveaway representative dual years ago.

Coming into this series, a categorical stylistic disproportion between these dual teams was that a Pelicans had no one who could credibly ensure Durant. As Game 4 is proving, that stays a case.

Game 4 has seen a Warriors give a Pelicans their best shot – and a home organisation is still standing.

That’s an extremely considerable thing for a Pelicans to be means to say. The doubt now is if they can not usually sojourn standing, yet come out on top.

What once was an 18-point Golden State lead has been cut all a approach down to as tiny as 4 late in a initial half, and now stands during 58-51 during halftime in New Orleans.

It’s an extremely bizarre box score, though. Golden State is sharpened 52.1 percent; New Orleans is sharpened 38.1 percent. Golden State has an corner in quick mangle points (9-7) and have committed 3 turnovers that have turn 5 Pelicans points, compared to 8 Pelicans turnovers apropos 14 points for Golden State.

So how are a Pelicans in this game? They have left 18 for 19 from a tainted line. The Warriors, on a other hand, have left usually 4 for 5. Golden State has also missed a final 9 threes of a initial half – many of that were open looks that usually didn’t go down.

None of this is to hit a Pelicans, who fought behind superbly to give themselves a possibility in a second half. But it’s transparent New Orleans is going to have to purify some things adult if it wants to not usually be rival in this game, yet win it.

Ricky Rubio will sojourn out for Game 4 of Utah’s Western Conference semifinal array with Houston here in Salt Lake City.

Rubio, who harm his hamstring in Game 6 of Utah’s first-round feat over Oklahoma City, was seen doing some jogging and transformation drills after shootaround Friday morning before Game 3, yet didn’t demeanour all that tighten to being means to go full-speed. There was some confidence Rubio competence be means to play in Game 4 after he was upgraded to controversial Saturday, yet those hopes went divided when a Jazz announced about 4 hours before opening tip that he would not play.

Power brazen Derrick Favors, who sprained his ankle in Utah’s blowout detriment to Houston in Game 3, stays controversial for Game 4. If he can’t play, Jae Crowder would seem to be a many approaching claimant to reinstate him in a Jazz’s starting lineup.

If we wish to know possibly a Warriors can be beaten, there is one stat value profitable courtesy to: a total three-point sharpened commission for Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.

When Golden State has during slightest one of Green and Iguodala rolling from three-point range, an already high-powered organisation is fundamentally unguardable. While Iguodala hasn’t taken a 3 in possibly of a final dual games, Green is now 7 for 13 after creation dual in a initial entertain Sunday.

With Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson on a court, defenses are going to force Green and Iguodala to fire by default. If during slightest one of them is holding advantage, it takes a Warriors from being a tough organisation to stop to one that simply can’t be stopped.

It’s extraordinary what happens when a organisation plays a best lineup to start a game, isn’t it?

Golden State has finished 6 of a initial 8 shots, including three-pointers from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, to take a 14-4 lead over New Orleans in a opening mins of Game 4.

Sometimes, this things isn’t complicated. Don’t play JaVale McGee, start your best lineup and good things will follow. The Warriors are experiencing that early in Game 4.

Rajon Rondo and Draymond Green have had countless incidents over a initial 3 games of a Golden State Warriors-New Orleans Pelicans series.

Warriors Coach Steve Kerr is excellent with Rondo portion his common purpose as a veteran irritant. What he’s not excellent with, though, is Rondo potentially spiteful Stephen Curry.

“I don’t see anything wrong with it, other than a tripping,” Steve Kerr told reporters after Saturday’s use of Rondo’s standard antics. “I’m all for removing underneath a guy’s skin, yet we can’t try to step on a guy’s feet or try to appropriate a male underneath his feet while he’s shooting. Those are dangerous plays.”

Kerr after pronounced a Warriors were going to warning a joining to a plays, yet that “it’s not going to do anything.”

This is what Rondo has finished for his whole career, going behind to his days as a student to Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen with a champion Boston Celtics a decade ago. One of a smartest players in a league, he’s also one of a wiliest competitors in a league, one who knows accurately how to get underneath a skin of each competition he’s facing.

He’s positively finished that to a Warriors so distant — and, in particular, Green, whom Rondo has finished a indicate of going after time and again so distant in this series. It has looked like Green competence remove his cold a few times and go over a edge, as he did in holding a appropriate during San Antonio Spurs brazen Davis Bertans in a initial turn and picking adult a extreme tainted point.

Remember: earning 4 such points formula in a suspension. Green and a Warriors know this all too good from dual years ago, when Green was dangling for Game 5 of a NBA Finals — a diversion that authorised a Cleveland Cavaliers to launch their quip from down 3 games to one in a array and win a championship.

But Green, to his credit, has avoided picking adult possibly a extreme indicate or a technical so distant in this series, notwithstanding innumerable run-ins with Rondo — including one, during halftime of Game 2, that led to Charles Barkley blurting out, on inhabitant television, that he wanted to punch Green in a face.

“I don’t consider there’s such thing as channel a line in basketball. You competing,” Green told reporters Saturday. “So when we competing, we gonna do what we gotta do to win. we never know when somebody contend someone is channel a line. we pronounced he’s perplexing to attract me. Yeah, he’s perplexing to attract me to get a technical foul.

“But during a finish of a day, that’s still him perplexing to win a basketball game. Y’all emanate these narratives of someone channel a line. There is no channel a line to win. You gonna do whatever we gotta do to win.

“I don’t trust in crossed lines. Y’all contend we crossed lines. we contend we did what we set out to do or we didn’t do what we set out to do.”

Regardless of how Game 4 turns out Sunday, Rondo will be in a center of all that happens. He’ll make certain of that.

The Warriors gave a Pelicans a chance to get into Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal array Friday night by starting JaVale McGee in place of Andre Iguodala.

Will Steve Kerr make a same mistake twice in Game 4 Sunday afternoon? He isn’t observant before a game, yet one would have to consider he won’t.

It is still baffling since Kerr went divided from starting tiny in Game 3, after it had so many success in a initial dual games of a series. His evidence after a diversion — one he steady again Saturday to reporters during a team’s use in New Orleans — is that a Warriors have so many centers that he was perplexing to buy some mins with McGee on a justice given a organisation had dual games in reduction than 48 hours.

Just my dual cents: I’d privately have avoided a additional 48 mins that will come with New Orleans confronting Golden State in Game 5 behind in Oakland — a smallest additional time this array will go after a Pelicans won Game 3.

The theory here is that Kerr will go with a tiny lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Iguodala to start Game 4. That will usually make it foreigner that he didn’t select to do so during a start of Game 3.


  • Golden State Warriors during New Orleans Pelicans (GSW leads 2-1), 3:30 p.m., ABC
  • Houston Rockets during Utah Jazz (HOU leads 2-1), 8 p.m., TNT

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Charles Barkley apologizes for observant he wanted to punch Draymond Green in a face

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