LOS ANGELES, USA – James Harden and Kevin Durant again put on a spectacular show, but it’s Harden’s Houston Rockets that got away with the victory.
Harden erupted for 41 points, including a clutch triple with 49 seconds left in overtime, as the Rockets slipped past Durant’s Golden State Warriors, 126-121, to trim their series deficit to 2-1 in the NBA Western Conerence semifinals on Saturday, May 4 (Sunday, May 5, Manila time).
Harden, who also had 9 rebounds and 6 assists, dropped 7 of his team’s last 9 points inside the final minute as the Rockets held off the defending champions’ late push.
“That’s James. He was terrific tonight,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said of the reigning MVP, who’s still recovering from an eye injury after getting struck in the face by the Warriors’ Draymond Green in Game 2.
The Rockets withstood another brilliant performance from Durant, who unleashed a game-high 46 points, including a 6-of-10 shooting clip from beyond the arc.
Eric Gordon also starred for Houston, firing a playoff career-high 30 points, 21 coming from three-point range.
Chris Paul had 14 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists for the Rockets, who held a 13-point lead in the 3rd quarter, 83-70, before a Warriors scoring barrage got them back in the game.
“We just took care of business, did what we have to do,” said D’Antoni.
Draymond Green had a triple-double of 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the Warriors.
“We had our chances,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “It would have been a steal if we won that game. They outplayed us. They were more aggressive from the beginning.”
"Close the game. That's what I am here for, that's what I do."— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) May 5, 2019
Stephen Curry, who dislocated a finger in Game 2, had 17 points but struggled in the stretch and even missed a wide-open layup in overtime.
Game 4 is set Monday night still in Houston.
In a see-saw final period, two free throws from Harden knotted the score at 112-112 with 38.7 seconds left.
Durant missed a jump shot and then Paul got wrapped up by Klay Thompson and Durant as he drove for a basket and it went to overtime.
“It’s going to be a fight, every possession, every game,” Harden said. “You’ve got to be physically tough, mentally tough.” – With a report from Agence France-Presse