Home: Rockets use 18 three-pointers to win Game 3 vs Warriors.
Sometimes all it takes is a little home cooking and good night sleep in your own bed to make you feel good. Playing in front of a loud and rambunctious sold-out home crowd of 18, 169, the Rockets defeated the Golden State Warriors 126 – 121 in overtime and are down 2-1 as they climb back into the best-of-seven series. Houston is trying to become the 21st team in NBA history to overcome a 2-0 deficit and the third Rockets team to do it since the 1994 and 1995 championship teams did it in the Semifinals vs Phoenix.
James Harden led the Rockets with 41 points and hit a huge step back three-pointer with 49 seconds left in overtime to that put the Rockets up by six points as Houston never trailed in the overtime period.
“That’s James. That’s what he does. He was terrific tonight,” said Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni as he described the performance of his superstar player.
Houston finally broke the bad habit of coming out lethargic against Golden State in the first quarter and that was led by center Clint Capela who had struggled against the Warriors “Hampton Five” lineup in the first two games. Capela finished the quarter with six points and six rebounds (three offensive), but it was his highlight block of Golden State’s Andre Iguodala dunk attempt with 55.4 seconds left in the quarter that got the crowd on their feet in the Toyota Center.
“I know that if I go up he doesn’t have a chance. Especially if I go up with both hands, he has no chance. I felt pretty confident after I got the block and I wanted to send a message,” said Capela who had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the game.
The Warriors must not have received the message clearly that the Rockets were not going away in this series quietly, so Eric Gordon screamed it loudly with a playoff career high in points (30) and three-pointers made with 7 on 14 attempts. Gordon help lead a Rockets team that made 18 three-pointers and is averaging 17.5 three-pointers made over the past two games. It must be something about Golden State that gets Gordon going as each of his top four scoring performances in the playoffs have come against the Warriors. He is averaging 24 points and shooting 51.9% this series.
“Gordy is tough man. Sometimes I believe we have more confidence in him than he has in himself. He has unlimited range. You kick it to him and he is five steps behind the three-point line, that’s like a regular shot for him. Everyone else be like ‘Wow’ but we are use to it. Plus, he can drive and defend, and we just really appreciate him around here,” said Chris Paul at the post-game press conference.
Houston went into the locker room leading by nine points, but if you know anything about the Warriors, you know that no lead is safe around them. After being up as much as 13 in the third quarter, the Rockets knew that it wouldn’t be long before Kevin Durant would soon find his groove as he has in the second half of every game this series. He scored ten straight points to begin the fourth quarter and give the Warriors the lead (94-93) for the first time since the end of the first quarter.
Durant scored a game-high 46 points including 29 points in the second half, matching a career playoff best for that half. With six three-pointers on the night, Durant he passed Kobe Bryant for seventh place on the NBA's all-time postseason three-point list.
“He is going to score. I don’t care if you double him or do whatever you want. We just have to make it tough for him and make him have to work for it,” an exhausted P.J Tucker who finished the game with 12 rebounds and has recorded 10-plus rebounds in the past two games.
Tucker came up huge as he kept the Rockets in the lead by scoring 4 out of the 14 overtime points and securing two big rebounds to seal the game.
Golden State had plenty of opportunities to take a commanding 3-0 lead in this series as they overcame multiple deficits to send the game into to overtime tied at 112, but the lack of production (4 for 15 from 3-point range) of the “Splash Brothers,” Steph Curry and Klay Thompson left the Warriors coming up short at the end. It is very unusual to see them struggle in the playoffs like this, but you have to credit the Rockets defense for making it tough on them, especially Curry who is playing with a dislocated finger on his left hand.
The former unanimous NBA MVP had an uncharacteristic end of the game as he missed three layups and a dunk in regulation and overtime.
“It was just one of those nights. I was aggressive early. Tried to get to my spot and take shots, but over the course of my 44 minutes, it just wasn’t my night.
Game 4 will be on Monday at the Toyota Center.