Despite getting the lead all the way up to 17 thanks to a red-hot third quarter, the Rockets found themselves battling the Warriors, yet again, late into the fourth.
The Rockets, who held a three-point lead with 11.5 seconds left in the game, made the win much more difficult than it needed to be after Harden missed his second free-throw attempt and a chance to make it a four-point game. On the next possession, Golden State’s Kevin Durant missed a wide-open three at the top of the key, only to have it rebounded by Draymond Green, who found Stephen Curry on the wing, who missed a good look to tie the game. Chris Paul grabbed the rebound, was fouled, dramatically missed the first free-throw, sank the second, and the Rockets walked away victorious.
This was the second game this series to be decided by four points, all four games being decided by six points or less. The Warriors had some great runs late, but phenomenal hustle by P.J. Tucker (17 points, 10 rebounds, 5 ORB, 3-6 from three) and Chris Paul (13 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) supported Houston down the stretch.
The Rockets’ team effort on the glass was felt yet again, as Houston out-rebounded Golden state 50-43, 13-8 on the offensive glass, after out-rebounding their opponent by 20 on Saturday. The Rockets also did what they do best and shot 17-50 from three, a far cry from the Warriors’ total 8-33 beyond the arc.
Curry did what was expected of him this game, and he took over early to get into a rhythm. Despite scoring 30 points on 12-25 shooting, he still struggled from behind the arc and went only 4-of-14 from three - though two of those threes came during crucial times late in the game. Kevin Durant had a solid 34 points on 12-22 shooting to go along with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Most notable for the Warriors’ offense was the lack of Andre Iguodala (7 points, 3-9 FGA), who has been immaculate this entire series, and another cold night for Klay Thompson (11 points, 5-15 FGA).
James Harden followed up his playoff-high this of 41 points this postseason on Saturday with an MVP-level 38 points on 13-of-29 shooting, to go along with 10 rebounds. Harden was also able to get to the line this game and knock down six of eight free-throw attempts. Eric Gordon cooled off this game (6-17 FGA), but he was still able to nab 20 points of his own. Gordon found a lot of success taking it inside, shooting 4-5 from inside the three, and knocking down six of six free-throws.
Believe it or not, the Houston Rockets have the series back at 0 after four games and some much-needed home cooking. They’ll only get a day’s rest before they return to the Bay for Game 5 in Oakland on Wednesday.