MANILA, Philippines – After all the drama in the series opener, the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets had more of it in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals.
Injuries hit both teams’ superstars right in the 1st quarter but the Warriors managed to hold off the Rockets, 115-109, and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series at the Oracle Arena in Oakland on Tuesday, April 30 (Wednesday, May 1, Manila time).
The Warriors’ two-time MVP Steph Curry dislocated his left middle finger in the opening quarter, eventually returned on the floor, got saddled by foul trouble, but still finished in double figures along with the entire Warriors starters.
Reigning MVP James Harden of the Rockets also sustained an eye injury after getting hit by Draymond Green on both eyes while battling for the rebound.
Durant powered the Warriors yet again, dropping 29 points on top of 5 rebounds, 4 assists and a couple of blocks.
Klay Thompson also came out firing with 21 points – including back-to-back triples that put the Warriors up, 82-67, in the 3rd quarter.
The Rockets, though, proved to be resilient even with Harden sitting out for a stretch and even threatened within single digit multiple times in the final quarter.
“They did a good job hanging in there,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “I think this is how the series will go.”
“Despite the quick start, we were fighting them off the whole game,” added Kerr.
Both teams headed into the game after much talk on the officiating where the Rockets complained after a 104-100 Game 1 loss. (READ: Kerr ‘disappointed’ after Rockets fury at officiating)
Rockets star Chris Paul was also fined $35,000 for making contact with referee Josh Tiven in Game 1. (READ: Rockets’ Chris Paul fined $35,000 for referee bump)
But the Warriors’ Draymond Green – who had a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds aside from dishing out 7 assists – said the teams have brushed the issues aside. (READ: Warriors’ Durant says Rockets’ Harden ‘clever’ not cheater)
“Both teams were just locked in in playing the game and playing the best of their ability,” said Green.
Curry finished with 20 points and 5 assists, while Andre Iguodala also tallied 16 points, 5 boards and 4 assists.
Harden, who said he “barely can see” as the injury had his eyes bleeding, still led the Rockets with 29 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
“He got raked pretty good in the eyes,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said of Harden, who shot 13 in the 4th quarter. “I’m sure he would have loved to have played better, but under the circumstances I thought he played great.”
Harden returned in the 2nd quarter, but appeared to feel discomfort from the injury during the game, sometimes squinting in the bright lights.
Chris Paul – who had a shot at trimming the deficit to 3, but missed a three-point attempt inside the final minute – finished with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists for the Rockets.
The series heads to Houston for Game 3 on Saturday.
– With a report from Agence France-Presse