Rockets, Warriors advance to Western Conference finals

The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors wrapped up their conference semifinals series Tuesday to set up a showdown in the Western Conference finals.

Chris Paul, who is in his first season with the Rockets after an offseason trade from the Los Angeles Clippers, scored a playoff career-high 41 points and added 10 assists and seven rebounds to lock up his first spot in the conference finals with a 112-102 Game 5 victory over the Utah Jazz.

Paul had been criticized over the course of his 13-year NBA career for never getting past the second round in nine previous playoff runs.

Now Paul and his Houston teammates, including James Harden, who scored 18 points in Tuesday’s victory, will next face the Warriors, who beat the New Orleans Pelicans 113-104 to also win their series in five games.

Stephen Curry led Golden State with 28 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and was one of five Warriors scoring in double digits. Kevin Durant scored 24, Klay Thompson had 23 points and Draymond Green just missed a triple-double with 19 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists to go along with three steals and two blocks.

While the Rockets are playing in the Western Conference finals for the second time in four years and first since 2015, the Warriors have been a constant presence in the conference finals as of late.

Golden State will be playing in the Western Conference finals for the fourth straight year, having advanced to the NBA Finals each of the previous three seasons and winning titles in 2017 and 2015.

Those NBA Finals victories over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were sandwiched around a seven-game loss to the Cavs in 2016.

If the Warriors can return to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight year, they could meet the Cavs once again. Cleveland has advanced to the Eastern Conference finals and is awaiting the winner of the conference semifinals series between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, with Boston up 3-1 going into Wednesday night’s Game 5 at TD Garden.

Game 6 of that series, if necessary, would be Friday in Philadelphia, with a potential Game 7 scheduled for Sunday back in Boston.

Game 1 of the Western Conference finals between the Rockets and Warriors is set for Monday in Houston.