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Harden torches Ingles; Giannis burns Maker

AAP News | 15th Apr 19

Joe Ingles' Utah Jazz were torched by James Harden's Houston Rockets, Thon Maker's Detroit Pistons were demolished by the rampaging Milwaukee Bucks and Aron Baynes sent a new NBA injury scare through the Boston Celtics.

Harden, with 29 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds led the Rockets to a 122-90 win over the Jazz in Houston on Sunday in the opening game of their best-of-seven western conference play-off series.

"It's go time," Harden said. "It's winning time."

Ingles has been in hot shooting form in recent weeks but the Australian managed just three points, missing three of his four field goal attempts.

The Jazz felt the loss of their other Australian, Dante Exum, who had success in last year's playoffs defending Harden but suffered a season-ending knee injury last month.

Maker's Pistons had no answer against the Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Milwaukee, Maker's former team, held a 70-43 half-time lead and went on to hammer the Pistons 121-86 in game one of their eastern conference series.

Antetokounmpo, the main challenger to Harden for league MVP, had 24 points and 17 rebounds in 25 minutes.

"It's fun," Antetokounmpo said. "We did a great job just setting the tone, playing hard and playing together."

Antetokounmpo took Maker under his wing when the young Sudanese-born Australian-raised forward/centre was drafted by the Bucks in 2016.

However, Antetokounmpo - the Greek star of Nigerian descent - showed no mercy as he dunked on and outplayed Maker.

It was a tough night for Maker who missed eight of his 10 field-goal attempts for just four points and four rebounds.

The Pistons' Andre Drummond was ejected in the third-quarter when he shoved Antetokounmpo with a cheap shot under the basket.

The Pistons suffered a blow before the game when their All-Star power forward Blake Griffin was ruled out with knee soreness.

The Celtics opened their first-round series against the Indiana Pacers with a comprehensive 84-74 victory in Boston.

They outscored the Pacers 26-8 in the decisive third quarter.

The Celtics' big man Baynes missed 31 regular season games with a broken hand, bruised foot and ankle sprain and appeared to have suffered a new injury when he howled in pain after colliding with the Pacers' Thaddeus Young in the second half.

Baynes, who had his left leg treated on the bench, dismissed it as anything serious.

"Looks can be deceiving," Baynes said, when reporters told him he looked like he was in pain.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens made light of it, describing how Baynes has "lied on several occasions throughout his career".

"I guess he's fine," Stevens said. "We may just change the adjective: He's Baynes."

Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris led the Celtics with 20 points each.

Meanwhile, Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard scored 30 points to guide them to a 104-99 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

--End Article--
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