Wizards top Hawks as John Wall scores 32 points


WASHINGTON, USA - John Wall scored 15 of his 32 points in a dominant third quarter Sunday, April 16 (Monday Manila time) as his Washington Wizards beat the Atlanta Hawks 114-107 in the opener of their NBA playoff series.

Wall also handed out 14 assists while teammate Bradley Beal scored 22 points and Markieff Morris added 21 as the Wizards seized the initiative in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series.

German guard Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 25 points and Paul Millsap had 19. Atlanta made 32 of 39 free throws, but connected on just 43.6 percent of their shots from the floor and turned the ball over 21 times.

In a back and forth battle, the Hawks led 48-45 at halftime. But the Wizards, seeded fourth in the East after missing the playoffs last year, out-scored Atlanta 38-28 in the third and led by as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter.

The Golden State Warriors headlined Sunday's action, opening their Western Conference first-round series as prohibitive favorites against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Warriors, aiming to get back to the NBA Finals for a third straight year and regain the crown they surrendered last season to the Cleveland Cavaliers, beat the Trail Blazers four times in the regular season.

Portland played them tougher than a 4-1 series outcome in last season's conference semi-finals suggests, with Golden State enjoying just an 8 1/2-point average margin of victory.

The Blazers suffered a blow when they announced Sunday that center Jusuf Nurkic would miss game one as he continues to recover from a broken right leg.

Golden State's Kevin Durant insisted the Warriors wouldn’t take the Trail Blazers - with or without Nurkic - lightly.

"We don't look at who's the underdog," he said. "We know that you can be beaten any night."

After seizing the Eastern Conference top seed from the Cavaliers, the Boston Celtics went into their series opener against the Chicago Bulls with uncertainty surrounding scoring dynamo Isaiah Thomas, whose sister Chyna was killed in a road accident on Saturday.

ESPN cited a source close to the player as saying he expected to play on Sunday night, but other reports indicated that could be a game-time decision.

In Houston, the Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder tipped off in a Western Conference series featuring the top contenders in the Most Valuable Player race - Thunder star Russell Westbrook and the Rockets' James Harden. – Rappler.com