The Houston Rockets just had their biggest win in 21 years.
The Rockets showed the championship heart we were asking for tonight as they weathered an early storm from the Golden State Warriors, jumped ahead at halftime, then blew their lead and fell down double digits in the third quarter only to close the game on a 25-10 run to defeat the Dubs 95-92 to tie their Western Conference Finals series at 2-2.
The Rockets were led by their two superstars, who put the team on their back throughout most of the contest.
James Harden spearheaded the attack, going for 30 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, and though he finished the game 11-26 from the field, he was absolutely filthy in the second quarter.
HARDEN DUNKS ON DRAYMOND OH MY LORD pic.twitter.com/DqEz0gnWkI— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) May 23, 2018
He was also active and effective on defense, blocking 2 shots and grabbing 3 steals, including this big strip of Kevin Durant.
Chris Paul went off for 27 points, shooting 10-20 from the field and 5-9 from three. He carried the Rockets offensively in the second half when Harden cooled down.
The Rockets needed every bit of their offensive contributions in a game that was significantly more defensive than anticipated. Both teams shot just 39 percent from the field, and the Warriors, in particular, were sloppy with the ball, committing 16 total turnovers.
It didn’t stop them from jumping out fast, however, sprinting to a 12-0 lead that looked painfully like much of Game 3. The Rockets gathered their bearings late in the first period, then went on huge second-quarter run led by the Beard and took a 53-46 lead into the halftime break.
The Warriors, as they often do, came out in the third period firing on all cylinders, going on an 18-3 run headed up by some white-hot shooting from Stephen Curry. He had 17 points in the quarter, and it looked to be all but over for the Rockets, who were down 80-70 to close the third.
The Rockets showed their pedigree by closing strong in the fourth, and they received contributions up and down the roster despite the lack of scoring from the role players.
P.J. Tucker was 0-4 from the field for just 4 points, but he also grabbed a game-leading 16 rebounds and was all hustle all night long.
Trevor Ariza scored just 9 points, but he made two timely defensive plays in the fourth to help hold the Dubs to 12 points in the final stanza, and he was also 2-3 from beyond the arc.
Eric Gordon was mostly bad on the night, going for 14 points on 4-14 from the field and 1-8 from deep, but he hit his only three of the night with two minutes left in the game and drew some timely fouls.
Clint Capela grabbed 13 rebound and blocked 2 shots in 24 minutes. He also hit his free throws when the Dubs briefly went hack-a-Capela, finishing 4-5 from the line with 8 total points.
The Warriors were led by Curry’s 28 points, but save one scorching hot sequence in the third quarter, he didn’t shoot all that well, going just 10-26 from the field, including missing an open three to end the game that would have tied it as time expired.
They also got 27 points and 12 rebounds from Kevin Durant, but he also didn’t shoot well, going just 9-24.
Draymond Green almost had a triple double, finishing with 11 points, 14 rebounds, and 8 assists, and Klay Thompson’s 10 points rounds out the Golden State players in double figures.
The Rockets officially have home court advantage back, and Game 5 takes place back at the Toyota Center Thursday night. I expect both teams to come out and score better next game, but ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a series!