LOS ANGELES — The Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets both raced to a pair of lopsided wins yesterday and can book their spots in the Western Conference final with victories on their home courts tomorrow.
Kevin Durant scored 38 points to power the reigning NBA champion Warriors over the New Orleans Pelicans, 118-92, and Chris Paul finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds as the Rockets defeated the Utah Jazz, 100-87.
Durant said his free form game plan allowed him to be aggressive and effective at the same time.
“I just try to tell myself that I’m at my best when I don’t care what happens after the game, the outcome or anything,” Durant said.
“That’s when I’m free and having fun out there, and forceful. I just try to play with force no matter if I missed shots or not, just keep shooting, keep being aggressive.”
Stephen Curry added 23 points as the Warriors seized a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven second-round series.
The Warriors are seeking a fourth consecutive trip to the NBA finals and their third crown in four seasons.
Curry said the key was getting the ball to their hottest player, Durant.
“Just find ways to get him in scoring positions,” Curry said. “Sometimes, that’s not really hard to do — just throw it to him.
“Just keep the game simple at that point because he’s such a great scorer, you don’t have to really overthink things.”
The host Pelicans, led by 26 points and 12 rebounds from Anthony Davis, never led while Golden State stretched the lead to as many as 26 points.
Durant added nine rebounds while Draymond Green had eight points, nine rebounds and nine assists for the Warriors. Klay Thompson added 13 points and Quinn Cook added 12 off the bench.
The Warriors limited Pelicans difference makers Rajon Rondo and Nikola Mirotic to just six and seven points. New Orleans made four of 26 attempts from three-point range.

Chris Paul and Raul Neto
Chris Paul (#3) of the Houston Rockets controls the ball in front of Raul Neto (#25) of the Utah Jazz in the first half during Game Four of Round Two of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena on May 6 in Salt Lake City, Utah. — AFP

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said they have to get more scoring from multiple players to win.
“I told you right from the start. You’re not going to beat them if you can’t score 115 points,” Gentry said. “I don’t care how good your defense is. I don’t care what you do. You have to be able to score 110, 115 points to have any chance to beat them.”
In Utah, NBA veteran Paul, celebrating his 33rd birthday, also had 12 rebounds while James Harden scored 24 points to power the Rockets to a 3-1 series lead.
“It was an emotional, crazy game,” said Paul, who is in his first season with the Rockets.
Clint Capela tallied 12 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks in the win.
Paul powered the offense and when he combined with Harden they were impossible to defend against.
“There are different ways to win,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni. “We got a lot of stuff we can go to. The plan was to get that, so we wouldn’t be a one dimensional team.”
Donovan Mitchell scored 25 points and Joe Ingles finished with 15 for Utah.
Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri was fined $25,000 by the NBA for walking onto the playing court at halftime to verbally confront game officials, the league announced Sunday.
The incident took place Saturday during Toronto’s 105-103 loss at Cleveland, which gave the Cavaliers a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference second-round playoff series.
Ujiri, a 47-year-old Nigerian, played six years professionally in Europe as a guard before retiring in 2002.
Ujiri broke into the NBA as an international scout for the Denver Nuggets, then became a scouting director and later an assistant general manager for the Raptors before rejoining the Nuggets as vice-president of basketball operations.
In 2013, Ujiri became the first non-US person selected as NBA Executive of the Year. He departed for a five-year deal as the Raptors’ general manager and in 2016 signed an extension to serve as the Raptors president. — AFP