Rockets soar past Warriors 127-105, evens West Finals 1-1

Photo credit: nba.com/warriors

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

The talk of a potential Warriors’ sweep can be put to rest.

After dropping Game 1 Monday night, the Rockets rebounded with a 127-105 victory over the Warriors in Game 2 at the Toyota Center Wednesday night.

James Harden finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds to help Houston regain home-court in the best-of-7 Western Conference Finals series.

“Guys were more active,” said Harden, who shot 9-of-24 from the floor and just 3-of-15 from 3, postgame to TNT. “We played harder and it showed tonight.”

Eric Gordon, who scored just 15 points in Game 1, exploded with 27 points in Game 2, matching Harden’s output. Gordon shot 8-of-15 from the field, including 6-of-9 on 3s.

The play of P.J. Tucker was big for Houston, scoring a playoff career-high 22 points on 8-of-9 shooting. Tucker was red-hot from 3, knocking down 5-of-6 from behind the arc, bouncing back from a poor Game 1 performance of one point on 0-of-3 from the field.

Trevor Ariza finished with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting and six assists, and Clint Capela finished with five points and 10 rebounds.

Chris Paul scored 16 points and had six assists, after recording just three in Game 1. Paul shot just 6-of-14 from the floor, appeared to be bothered by a lower leg injury in the second half as he ran with a noticeable limp. Paul did sit out most of the fourth quarter when the game was in hand for Houston.

The Rockets dominated Golden State in the second quarter, outscoring the Warriors 38-29.

“We can beat anybody, anywhere at any time playing the way we play,” Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Sloppy play, lackluster defense and the lack of another scoring option other than Kevin Durant were the main culprits in the loss for Golden State.

As a team, Houston was scorching from three-point land, knocking down 16-of-42 (38.1-percent). Golden State’s perimeter defense against the Rockets was nonexistent in Game 2 from the beginning, allowing the Rockets to drill 10-of-23 3s in the first half. Houston shot 51.4-percent for the game (45-of-88) and out-rebounded Golden State 47-36.

Houston led as much as 19 in the first half and was up 64-50 at halftime. The Warriors did climb back into the game, closing the gap 74-64 behind five points by Durant before Houston increased their lead to 89-72 behind an off-balanced layup by Gordon crashing to the floor, drawing a foul and making a free throw.

Durant finished with a game-high 38 points on 13-of-22 shooting from the floor, but was a one-man band Wednesday night at the Toyota Center for Golden State.

“We’re not the juggernauts of the NBA,” Durant said. “We’re a good team, but that’s a great team on the other end.”

Stephen Curry had another quiet game, scoring 16 points on 7-of-19 shooting from the field, but couldn’t get anything going from three-point range, connecting on 1-of-8 on his 3s. By hitting just one 3, Curry extended his NBA playoff record to 81 games.

In the first two games of the series, Curry is shooting just 2-of-13 on 3s.

Klay Thompson, who had his way with Houston in Game 1 scoring 28 points, was held in check finishing with just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting (2-of-4 on 3s).

Draymond Green finished with just six points, six rebounds and six assists.

“I think a lot of these games when you get in the playoffs with teams that are very talented and really great team, it often comes down to which one has the edge in terms of the aggression and the desperation,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the game. “They were desperate tonight, and they played like it. And we didn’t. And the results showed. We got what we deserved. They kicked our butts.”

The Warriors committed 15 turnovers, off of which Houston scored 15 points. Houston 13 points off 11 first-half turnover by Golden State, which in essence, had the Warriors climbing uphill for the entirety of the game.

Golden State shot 45.9-percent for the game (39-of-85) and were ice-cold on 3s, shooting 9-of-30 (30-percent).

But if you’re the Warriors, you’ve accomplished your mission of splitting the first two games in Houston. With the scene shifting to Oakland for Games 3 and 4, Golden State should feel good about where the series stands right now.

Game 3 is Sunday at Oracle Arena with tipoff scheduled for 5 p.m. Pacific.

Following Game 3, the two teams will play Game 4 on Tuesday, before returning to Houston for Game 5 on Thursday.

Dragic, Suns topple Curry and Warriors in the desert

By Joe Hawkes

PHOENIX — With the Suns clinging to a 104-102 lead with seven minutes in the fourth quarter, Goran Dragic was relentless Saturday night, scoring 13 of his career-high 34 points in the final frame, steering Phoenix to a 122-109 victory over the short-handed Golden State Warriors Saturday night.

Phoenix (30-21) moves a half-game ahead of the Warriors (30-21) for the sixth-best record in the Western Conference, and dropping Golden State to third in the Pacific Division.

Dragic who many people believed should’ve been voted an All-Star this season, played like one, shooting 10-for-13 from the field, including 5-for-6 from 3-point range. Dragic was outstanding from the free throw line, finishing 8-for-10 and dished out 10 assists.

Gerald Green scored 25 points and five rebounds, while P.J. Tucker finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Marcus Morris had 14 points and six rebounds off the bench, Channing Frye finished with 13 points, and Miles Plumlee 12 points and seven rebounds.

Playing without center Andrew Bogut (shoulder) and power forward David Lee (shoulder/hip), Stephen Curry led Golden State with 28 points and nine assists in 41 minutes of action. Curry shot 10-for-30 from the field, and 3-for-10 from deep.

Harrison Barnes had his best game to date, scoring 23 points on 9-for-15 shooting. It was Barnes’s first 20-point game since Dec. 13.

Klay Thompson had 17 points, Andre Iguodala scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Jermaine O’Neal finished with 11 points.

With both Bogut and Lee sitting out the game, Phoenix out-rebounded Golden State 45-34.

Golden State will look to rebound at home Monday, when they will host the Philadelphia 76ers (15-36).

Stephen Curry’s Career Night Burns Suns in 115-86 Warriors Win

By Matthew Harrington

The Golden State Warriors burned the Phoenix Suns 115-86 Friday night at Oracle Arena, torching the visitors from the desert to their largest margin of defeat this season. Red-hot Warriors point guard Stephen Curry established career-highs in rebounds (13) and assists (16) against Phoenix (17-11) en route to his third career triple-double and Klay Thompson notched a game-high 21 points for Golden State (18-13) on the heels of a 105-103 Christmas Day victory over the Clippers, the Dubs’ fourth consecutive win.

Warriors forward David Lee ended the night with seven baskets on ten attempts for 17 points while Thompson was nine of eleven from the field including a pair of threes for his 21-point contribution. Curry’s 14 points in 33:33 of playing time capped the career night for the guard, who became the seventh player in team history with at least three triple-double performances. His 13 rebounds were also a game-best, with the Warriors winning the battle of the boards 56-41. Suns guard P.J. Tucker’s 11 points and 12 rebounds made him the only player on the visiting side finishing in the double-digits in either scoring or boards. The Suns made a dismal 36% of shots attempted.

The lead changed four times in the game, but every change occurred during the first 3:33 of play. Ultimately, The Warriors ended the first quarter leading 28-22 before outscoring the Suns 31-18 for a 59-40 lead at the half. Golden State coasted to the win by outscoring Phoenix 26-24 in the third and capping off the contest with a 30-22 final frame for the final 115-86 margin.

Golden State seeks to move to a season-high five-straight wins when they travel to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers Sunday afternoon for a 3:00 pm showdown. It’s the first meeting between these two squads this season.