Oakland, CA — Kevin Durant. James Harden. A power match-up unlike any other.
With the Western Finals series tied at 1-1, both Durant with the Golden State Warriors and Harden with the Houston Rockets would have to put forth their best efforts to earn the advantage going into game 4. As time would eventually tell, the Warriors pulled off one of the most dominant playoff wins to date, beating the Rockets by 41 points, 126-85.
After the first 12 minutes of play, the Warriors showed that they were ready to compete and dominate at the highest level to get that 2-1 advantage leading the Rockets 31-22. At the time, Houston offensively did not have rhythm or fluidity, having trouble getting the ball moved around and settling for contested shots. This issue, combined with the extra-effort plays by the Warriors, led to the almost 10-point lead going into the second quarter of action.
This aggressive style of play by Golden State fueled them heading into the second frame as they continued their fight and finished the first half up, 54-43. Their aggression on offense and unwavering defense led them to earn a dominant win.
Houston continued to have their sparse offensive bouts, and defensively they gave up easy layups and hustle plays to the Warriors benefit. The biggest issue the Rockets were having was turnovers, as they had a total of 20 for the game with the Warriors converting 28 points off of those turnovers.
During the first half, the Rockets Head Coach Mike D’Antoni was mic’ed in a timeout, commenting on what his team would need to do to turn the ball game around.
“We cannot let go of the rope, we got to go,” Coach D’Antoni said. “It’s going to take heart and brains.”
While both Harden and Durant can be argued to be some of the top athletes in the league, the match-up between the two tonight was unmatched when it came to Durant’s efficiency. He led the way from the very beginning, making the game look easy against Houston.
Durant’s ease and fluidity led him to have a continuous effect throughout all four quarters, finishing the game with 25 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
With Durant doing most of the legwork early in the game, he cleared the path for his teammates to pull off some momentum building plays later in the second half. Specifically, after being frustrated in the first half Steph Curry was able to find his rhythm in the third quarter and went 13-23 from the field to finish the game, leading all scorers with 35 points.
Curry spoke on his shooting, and also put a word in about his team’s ability to defend well.
“Defensively we were locked in tonight, everybody was rotating and okaying great one-on-one defense and that helps keep our crowd into it and fueling our offense,” Curry said.
The Warriors continued to put on a show for their home crowd throughout the fourth quarter, as the Rockets struggled to find their groove even though they had a strong push midway through the third quarter.
The “one vs. one” mentality on offense for Houston hurt them tonight and their usual scorers had trouble getting the ball to fall. Harden finished with 20 points leading the Rockets, while Chris Paul only added 13 as the Warriors snagged game three in dominant fashion.