For the first time in over a year, the Golden State Warriors have lost a second game in a playoff series. The Rockets whole team showed up big in the exhibition, but it took a clutch performance from James Harden and Chris Paul to give Houston the edge.
The Warriors came out strong at the start of the game. They scored 12 unanswered points before Houston got their act together and finally scored. The Rockets continued to trail, however, until the end of the 1st half. James Harden was the primary factor in the comeback, scoring multiple threes, flashy layups, and even an impressive posterizing dunk on defensive superstar Draymond Green. After the dunk, it seemed the momentum of the game had finally changed and evened out between the two teams.
At the start of the second half, Houston was up by seven points. This comfortable lead was short lived due to the efforts of Stephen Curry in the third quarter, who drained several threes giving the Warriors another double digit lead in the game. But because of a combined team performance led by Chris Paul, the Rockets were able to claw their way back into the game.
For the last six minutes of the game, it seemed like the game could go either way. What led to the Warriors’ demise, however, was poor shot selection. In the final minute of the game, Golden State had possession of the ball. Klay Thompson took a contested three pointer from the corner when he could have passed to an open player. Luckily for the Warriors, Draymond Green was able to pull down an offensive rebound and find Curry for an outlet pass. But instead of taking care of the ball, Curry squandered the opportunity and took a contested shot as soon as he caught it, missing and therefore allowing Houston to pull down the board. With one more opportunity and five seconds left on the game clock, Golden State once again held the ball. But because of a missed fadeaway shot from Thompson, it seemed likely that the Dubs were going to lose. After a quick foul from the Warriors, Paul headed to the line and effectively ended the game by sinking his free throw to give Houston a three point cushion with only half a second left. When the Warriors got the ball back after the free throw, Curry took a quick three but missed, giving Houston the win and Golden State their first home playoff loss in over a year.
Although the Warriors played aggressive and had hot spurts throughout the game, Houston was able to fend them off and come out with the victory. With James Harden’s 30 points and Chris Paul’s 27, the Rockets barely managed to break the Warriors’ impeccable home playoff record.
“I really think it’s anyone’s series at this point,” NBA fan and Prep student Colin Kelly continued, “Each team is taking turns lighting each other up and if Houston can break up this back and forth slugfest in Game 5 at home, there’s a heck of a chance we can see the Warriors getting stopped in the Western Conference Finals.”
“It’s crucial that not just the duo of Paul and Harden show up in Game 5,” NBA fan and Prep junior Andrew Olds stated. “We’ve seen what the Warriors can do when the Rockets underperform as a team in Game 3, and that simply cannot happen in Game 5. In fact, I’ll call it now and say if Houston loses Game 5, the Warriors will win Game 6 afterwards and head to the championship.”