The Golden State Warriors are in unfamiliar territory without homecourt advantage in a playoff series, but that didn't change their normal result on Monday night. Kevin Durant had 37 points as the Warriors jumped ahead of the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals with a 119-106 Game-1 victory. The much-anticipated Western Conference showdown did not disappoint in the first half, as the game was tied up at 56 at halftime. Klay Thompson added 28 points for Golden State, who scored at least 30 points in the third and fourth quarters. Durant led that performance with his fourth 30-point game of this postseason, all to overcome James Harden's 41-point effort. Despite Harden's hot shooting, the Rockets dropped their second home game of the postseason, as they are in their first Western Conference Finals since falling to the Warriors in the 2015 series. The Warriors are in their franchise-record fourth straight Conference Finals, looking to advance to their fourth straight NBA Finals. They did get 18 points from the recently-returned Steph Curry, as they began a playoff series on the road for the first time since their 2014 first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers. They will be on the road for Game 2 of the series as well, which will take place on Wednesday night.
Golden Knights Come Back to Even Conference Finals
The Las Vegas Golden Knights are also in unfamiliar territory in their young existence, and that's facing a series deficit. They are no longer facing that after Monday night's Game 2 , as they evened up the Western Conference Finals with a 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on the road. Jonathan Marchessault led the way with two goals, which were both assisted by Reilly Smith, as the Knights overcame the Jets' Whiteout at Bell MTS Place. Tomas Tatar scored the first goal of the game just 6:37 into the first period, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves in the road win. Kyle Connor was the only Jets player to beat Fleury with a goal in the second period to tie the game, but the Knights took the lead back just 1:28 later. Connor Hellebuyck made 25 saves in the loss for the Jets, who took the first game of the series, 4-2, on Saturday night. They never led in Game 2, although, they will hit the road, where they've been very successful this postseason, including three wins at Nashville in the second round. Marchessault stepped up after calling Game 2 a "must-win game" for Vegas following their Game-1 loss. That defeat came after blowing through the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks in the first two rounds. They will host Game 3 of the series on Wednesday night.
Angels Pull in to Tie For First in AL West
The Los Angeles Angels have not allowed the Houston Astros to pull away in the AL West like they did last season, and now they sit right there with them atop the division. The Angels pulled into that tie on Monday night with a 2-1 win over the Astros at Angel Stadium. Andrew Heaney lasted a career-high eight innings and struck out 10 batters in a stellar outing, as he allowed just one run on four hits in the win. Justin Upton stayed hot with an RBI single in the sixth to give his team the lead, while Luis Valbuena also singled home a run on the night. The Angels are in a "virtual tie" with the Astros, and sit percentage points ahead of them heading in to the final two games of the series. Heaney improved to 2-2 on the season, while Lance McCullers Jr. suffered his first loss in seven starts for the Astros, dating back to April 6th. The Angels have now won three of four meetings this season with the defending World Series Champions, who managed just five baserunners against the Angels' starter. They did load the bases in the ninth inning against Angels' reliever, Justin Anderson, but could not tie or take the lead in their final chance. Max Stassi drove in the only run with a single in the third for the Astros, who have two more games at Angel Stadium, including on Tuesday night.