Chris Paul, Rockets stun Warriors in Game 4 thriller to steal


 

 

NBA Playoffs: Rockets top Warriors in Game 4 thriller

SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports' Sam Amick breaks down how the Rockets stole Game 4 on the road to even their series with the Warriors at 2-2.

OAKLAND — The Houston Rockets aren’t grounded just yet.

The NBA’s best regular season team roared back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit against Golden State to win Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals 95-92 at Oracle Arena on Tuesday. And just like that, this series that appeared to be swinging in the Warriors’ favor is now tied 2-2 with Game 5 in Houston on Thursday and Game 6 back here at Oracle on Saturday. A possible Game 7 would be Monday slated for the Toyota Center. 

And Houston’s homecourt advantage, in other words, has been recovered after snapping the Warriors' NBA record 16-game home playoff winning streak. 

Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul (3) shoots over Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) during the second quarter in game four of the Western … Show more 

 

KYLE TERADA-USA TODAY SPORTS

Here’s how they did it…

1. A FEISTY FOURTH QUARTER

If the Warriors were truly going to be threatened, you knew that Houston’s James Harden and Chris Paul were going to have to show up on the same night. This was that long-overdue game, as Harden finished with 30 points and Paul had 27. But after that embarrassing Game 3 effort in which the Rockets were pummeled by 41 points, it was their defense’s ability to bounce back that did this deed.

The Warriors, who were playing without veteran wingman Andre Iguodala (left leg contusion), were held to just 12 points in the fourth quarter and missed 15 of 18 shots. Two-time MVP Steph Curry (28 points) missed seven of eight shots in the fourth after having yet another epic third quarter, while Kevin Durant (27 points on nine of 24 shooting) missed four of five shots.

The Rockets took the lead for good on a Trevor Ariza free throw with 5:22 left, and an Eric Gordon three-pointer at the 2:27 mark put them up five. With 2.2 seconds left and Houston up two, Klay Thompson couldn’t get past the swarm of Rockets defenders and his airball from the left side fell flat.

2. THE WARRIORS’ WASTED THIRD QUARTER

As legendary sports trends go, the one about the Warriors and their third-quarter dominance is as impressive as they come.

So when Curry was screaming again in the latest third quarter clinic, standing midcourt on the Warriors logo and enjoying the fruits of their labor as the period came to a close with a 25-10 Golden State run, it was only a surprise to anyone who hadn't paid attention. During the regular season, the Warriors had a third-quarter plus-minus mark that was more than twice as good as the second-place Rockets (plus -371 compared to plus-172). Entering play in Game 4, they led all playoff teams in third-quarter plus-minus by a huge margin as well (plus-77 in 13 playoff games; Philly was second at plus-38). But make no mistake, their latest third-quarter showing was nothing short of special.





View|27 Photos

NBA Finals MVP winners through the years

Curry, who had 18 third-quarter points in Game 3 and was caught yelling “this is my (expletive) house” during that stretch, had 17 in the third this time around. He hit five threes in the third, with two of them – Harden guarding on one, Clint Capela on the second and separated by 22 seconds – launched from deep on the left wing. In the matter of less than seven minutes, a seven-point Rockets lead had become a 10-point deficit.

3. ROCKETS RECOVERY

The Rockets couldn’t have scripted a worse start, as they trailed 12-0 midway through the first quarter after missing their first eight shots. Curry was stopping Harden on the wings. Kevon Looney was forcing Paul to miss at the rim. Open looks were being wasted left and right. And then, right about the time it seemed as if a Warriors’ 3-1 lead was a formality, Houston showed impressive resilience.

They outscored Golden State 41-25 from the late first quarter to halftime, upping their defensive intensity and taking a 53-46 lead into the break. After Curry dribbled around the right side searching for a buzzer-beating look with P.J. Tucker hounding him, he tried two ball-fakes that fell flat and was blocked so hard on the right baseline that he fell to the floor.

Harden and Paul, meanwhile, were standing tall.

Paul went scoreless in the first quarter, but had 16 points in the second quarter while hitting five of six shots. Not only did Harden have 24 points in the first half, and not only did he posterize Green in the kind of way that is rarely seen, but he had perhaps the best defensive sequence of his playoff career. And no, that’s not a typo.

Harden, whose defense has been so lackluster over the years, jumped the lane above the arc as Nick Young threw a lazy pass to Durant and stole the ball to spark the break. He found a trailing Paul for the layup, and eyes all over the basketball world surely took notice of the Harden highlight on that end. Then one possession later, Harden had a clean steal of Durant in an isolation situation and finished the dunk for a seven-point lead.

Yet still, nothing was more memorable than his dunk over Green. Midway through the second quarter, he drove left past Looney in the lane, sneaked by Curry, and threw down a left-handed slam on the fouling Green as the Warriors big man recovered late. Harden, who scored nine consecutive points for Houston during that stretch, hit the free throw to cut Golden State’s lead to two.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Sam Amick on Twitter. 





View|55 Photos

NBA playoffs: Best of the conference finals

 

Chris Paul, Rockets stun Warriors in Game 4 thriller to steal Chris Paul, Rockets stun Warriors in Game 4 thriller to steal Reviewed by odewole Olusegun on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 Rating: 5

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.