Rockets 127, Warriors 105
James Harden and Eric Gordon each scored 27 points to lead a balanced attack and host Houston routed Golden State to even the Western Conference finals at one game apiece.
The Rockets didn’t trail after the first quarter and led by double digits for most of the night. They head to Oakland, California for Game 3 on Sunday night feeling much better after rebounding from a deflating 119-106 loss in the series opener.
P.J. Tucker added a playoff career-high 22 and Trevor Ariza had 19 as both bounced back after struggling in Game 1.
Kevin Durant had 38 points after scoring 37 in the opener, but Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for just 24 points.
Budenholzer to Bucks
Mike Budenholzer was out of work for 20 days. The former Hawks head coach reached an agreement to become the next head coach of the Bucks on Wednesday, according to a report by ESPN. The Hawks and Budenholzer mutually agreed to part ways on April 26 after the former NBA Coach of the Year interviewed with the Suns and Knicks despite having two years and $14 million remaining on his contract.
Although the financial details of their departure are not known, the Hawks are expected to recoup some of the money owed to Budenholzer now that he has another job.
The Hawks hired Budenholzer in May of 2013. In his five seasons with the Hawks, Budenholzer compiled a 213-197 record. He led the team to a 60-win season and berth in the Eastern Conference finals in 2014-15.
The Hawks announced the hire of Lloyd Pierce as head coach on Monday.
The Hawks are in the midst of a rebuild with a stripped down roster that went 24-58 last season. The lack of winning appeared to be one of several reasons Budenholzer was not happy with the Hawks and so quickly pursued another job.
Smart carrying Celtics
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens has said what has carried his team through the NBA postseason is its ability to make “winning plays” with the game on the line.
And more times than not, it’s been Marcus Smart making them.
Since returning from thumb surgery late in the first round, Smart has been unflappable and Boston’s unquestioned deacon of toughness.
From sacrificing his body diving for loose balls or keeping plays alive with a rebound, to causing deflections on defense, to popping up out of the crowd for a timely rebound or tip-in, Smart is the proud everyman for a once underdog Celtics team that has outworked the Cavaliers through the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals.
Boston is 8-2 since Smart’s return and has the Cavaliers facing their first 2-0 series hole since 2008, when they lost 4-3 to the Celtics in the conference semifinals. Boston went on to win the NBA title that season.
“I think he’s as tough as they come,” Stevens said.
NBA: LeBron among MVP finalists
Rockets 127, Warriors 105