It appeared we were bound for another blowout in the conference finals as the Warriors jumped out on a 12-0 run to start the game. Kevin Durant, who scored 27 points with 12 rebounds, already had 10 points by the end of the first quarter with the Warriors leading 28-19. Indications were that they would not even miss having Andre Igoudala out with a bruised knee. The momentum was definitely in the Warriors favor.
However, the Rockets started to jump start the offense. Harden scored 15 of his 27 total points in the 2nd quarter, which was key in Houston’s 25-7 run. This run was crucial for the confidence for Houston being in a hostile crowd in Oracle Arena. Harden started to initiate the offense earlier in the shot clock to get more role players involved with more ball movement. One key role player was PJ Tucker. He was able to come up with 16 rebounds even though he is undersized.
The Warriors were still being tough with their defense but Klay Thompson (10 points, 4 rebounds) appeared to have injured his left knee or ankle when trying to go for a lay up and found his foot to be caught with Clint Capela’s feet. Shortly after, Harden’s hot streak was highlighted in the latter stages of the 2nd quarter with a drive to the basket and dunking over Draymond Green (11 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists), which even had the TNT broadcasters at a loss for words. Chris Paul was able to continue then hot streak at the end of the 2nd quarter in which he scored 12 of his 14 points in the final 3:32 of the quarter. He contributed with 27 total points.
It was inevitable though that the Warriors would go on a run in the 2nd half, and that was true in the 3rd quarter. In the middle of that run was Curry, who scored 17 of his 28 points ins the third quarter. By then of the 3rd quarter, the Warriors were leading 80-70 and it appeared that the Warriors would run away with it again,
However, the Rockets tightened up the defense in the 4th quarter, which a lot of NBA fans did not see coming. The Warriors ended the game with a cold streak going 3-18 from the field in the 4th quarter. This was highlighted late in the quarter as Draymond Green missed an easy dunk, which could potentially be a Shaqtin a Fool Candidate. Both teams showed fatigue throughout the 4th quarter but the Rockets never lost the lead with 5:22 left in the quarter. Eric Gordon hit a three (14 points) with 2:27 left, which was enough to pull away. This was Gordon’s only made 3 point field goal after missing his first 7.
The Warriors had one last chance with 0.5 seconds to tie the game after Chris Paul made one of two free throws after a Shaun Livingston foul. Stephen Curry was able to break free off a screen to the corner three but missed short.
The series, now being tied 2-2, will be even more intriguing when the teams meet again on Thursday. Can the Rockets maintain this momentum or will the Warriors display their championship grit?