The Warriors certainly incinerated any hope for the Rockets to even their best-of-seven opening-round series at two games apiece with a 121-94 win on Sunday even as they watched their superstar Stephen Curry suffers a nasty fall at halftime.
In a similar position, most teams would have faltered. Instead, the Warriors responded with a huge third quarter, outscoring the Rockets by 21 points and then finishing the game with a playoff-record 21 3-pointers, according to ESPN.
The Rockets ruled the court in the first half, hitting their first 11 shots on 15-of-19 attempts. But the Warriors soon steamrolled them in the second half, holding the Rockets to 9-of-21 shooting.
Though James Harden added 18 points, he was held to 4-for-13 shooting. He described the third quarter where they short-circuited on the defensive end as a ‘breakdown’. It was a ‘terrible way to lose’, he told Fox Sports.
“You could see the intent in their guys’ eyes”, Rockets head coach J.B. Bickerstaff told NBA. “There’s a reason why those guys are champions.” And they knew they fumbled a great opportunity to tie the series. “The moment where we needed to match that intensity, we didn’t do it”, Bickerstaff added.
This comes from a team that has been to last year’s Western Conference Finals but is now down 3-1 without the reigning MVP even playing two full halves of basketball.
Curry was scrambling downcourt while defending Trevor Ariza on the final play of the first half but slid awkwardly on a wet spot and immediately grabbed his right knee.
Before his injury, Curry moved well in the first half, with six points on 2-of-9 shooting (1-for-7 from 3-point range) playing 19 minutes with five turnovers and five assists as well.
However, it was clear that his one-week absence has had an impact on his shot, not far from his worst field-goal percentage in any game this season (22 percent).
It was a “complete crap,” Draymond Green said of seeing Curry unable to play. But he also knew that they couldn’t sulk at their misfortune. “We have to step our game up,” he added.
A scintillating performance for Game 4 might have put the Rockets on the brink of elimination but if Curry won’t be fine and back in the lineup for the remaining games in the series, their defense of the NBA championship looks uncertain.
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