The Houston Rockets bounced back from the blowout loss they suffered on Saturday and beat the Golden State Warriors at home, 128-115, to extend the series. James Harden led the way with 45 points while everyone in Houston's starting lineup scored in double digits. Klay Thompson had his best game of the series with 24 points, but it wasn't enough to power Golden State in a game where Stephen Curry missed time with injury. Now the series will go back to Oakland for Game 5 on Wednesday.
With their backs against the wall, the Josh Smith led the way early on by making his first three-point attempts. With the not getting back on defense quickly enough, Houston's role players got some easy shots on the break. Once joined in on the fun, things got out of hand. The result was an offensive explosion of historic levels. The Rockets' 45 first-quarter points tied for most scored in a first quarter in an NBA game.played their best basketball of the series.
Just as the Warriors were trying to find their footing on the second period,suffered a nasty fall and had to be escorted to the locker room.
The scary situation took the air out of the arena. Surprisingly, the Warriors got back into the game. With Draymond Green stepping up, they crawled their way back into a manageable deficit after trailing by as many as 25. Despite shooting 60 percent from the floor and 67 from outside, the Rockets only led by 10 at the half.and
After being examined by doctors, Curry returned to the court with his team down 11 at the middle point of the third quarter. It was great to see Curry out there after such a frightening fall but he was clearly out of rhythm and his presence might have hurt the Warriors' chances. An inspired Harden scored 16 points in the period to extend the Rockets' lead to 13 going into the final quarter.
The Warriors refused to go away but the Rockets' offense always had answers to their runs. Steve Kerr decided to intentionally foul Smith in a last-ditch attempt to get back in the game. It wasn't enough despite Smith going 3-for-12 from the line in the fourth quarter. Houston managed to avoid the sweep and extend the series.
3 things we learned
1. Stephen Curry is lucky he didn't get seriously injured
These playoffs have had their share of tough injury-related moments, but few have been as hard to watch as Curry's contusion. He could have seriously hurt his shoulder and it seemed like a concussion diagnosis was inevitable. He was dizzy leaving the court and it was hard to see him returning.
Fortunately, the fall wasn't as hard as it looked. Curry came back and, while he didn't play at his usual level, finished the game. It's great news for all basketball fans and especially Warriors fans that the MVP is fine. Golden State will have a chance to close the series on Wednesday with Curry on the court.
2. James Harden bounced back
Harden finished Game 3 with 17 points in 16 shots and didn't have the positive impact the Rockets need from their best player. He made up for that poor performance by going off for 45 on just 22 shots and making timely buckets whenever his team needed them. He scored at will, going at a good defender in Thompson and making him look inept.
The Rockets will need this version in Oakland on Wednesday to have a shot of extending the series and playing Game 6 in the Toyota Arena. It's hard to imagine Houston completing this comeback, but for the team to even have a shot, they need Harden playing at a high level.
3. The Warriors will likely close the series on Wednesday
The Rockets didn't want to go out leaving a poor image after a blowout loss in Game 3. They used that inspiration to hit first with a ridiculous first quarter. Curry's exit added even more chaos to the game. It was a gutsy win by Houston but it doesn't look like the Rockets have figured out Golden State as much as had a great performance that screams "outlier."
The Warriors will be back home for Game 5, Curry should be fine and the same strengths that led them to take control of the series will likely help them close it. Golden State didn't show any sense of urgency on Game 4 and paid for it. Kerr will have his squad ready on Wednesday.
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