Published: May 27, 2018 1:18:17 pm
Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry combined for seven 3-pointers in the third quarter Saturday night, rallying the Golden State Warriors from a 10-point halftime deficit to a 115-86 run-away in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals in Oakland, Calif. The teams will get a travel day Sunday before meeting one final time in Houston on Monday night, with the Game 7 winner advancing to the NBA Finals to face either the Boston Celtics or Cleveland Cavaliers, who play their Game 7 in Boston on Sunday.
Riding a two-game winning streak but without injured point guard Chris Paul, the Rockets shocked the defending champs with an early burst of four consecutive 3-pointers to help produce a 39-22 lead after one quarter. But the Warriors crept within 61-51 at halftime, then used powerful 3-point shooting of their own to pass Houston before the end of the third quarter and pull away early in the fourth.
“We did a better job moving the ball tonight, for sure,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said postgame. “The pace was really fast, and I thought the one positive of Houston getting off to that start that they did was the pace was high. I didn’t like the poor defense we were playing, but I like the pace. So I think once we settled down and we got the defense in a better position, then we started moving the ball, and the game felt more like a Warriors game.”
After combining for 3-for-13 shooting on threes in the first half, Thompson (4-for-5) and Curry (3-for-4) bombed in seven of nine from beyond the arc in the third quarter, during which the Warriors outscored the Rockets 33-16 to take a lead they never relinquished.
Golden State outscored Houston 31-9 in the final 12 minutes. Thompson saved 21 of his game-high 35 points for the second half and Curry chipped in with 16 of his 29, helping Golden State go up by as many as 30 en route to the series-tying win.
“We like our formula,” Kerr said. “We like our defense against these guys, and we feel confident that we can carry this through to Game 7 on the road and continue to make things as difficult as possible on Houston without fouling. I thought that was a real key tonight.” James Harden had a team-high 32 points for the Rockets, including 15 in the first quarter, during which Houston connected on eight of 12 from 3-point range to account for a majority of its 39-point total.
The Rockets shot 11-for-22 on threes in the first half, but then just 4-for-17 the rest of the way. The Warriors, meanwhile, rebounded from a 4-for-18 first half from long distance with a 12-for-20 finish. Kevin Durant contributed 23 points for the Warriors, who haven’t been in a Game 7 since the 2016 NBA Finals against Cleveland, a game the Cavaliers won to deny Golden State back-to-back titles.
Draymond Green had a team-high 10 rebounds and nine assists for Golden State, which shot 49.4 percent overall from the field. Harden, who shot 4-for-12 on threes, finished with seven rebounds and a team-high nine assists for the Rockets, who committed 21 turnovers.
“Little carelessness, little tiredness, whatever,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said after the loss. “Bottom line, we can’t turn it over, and we need to do a better job. But we knew this was hard. They’re champs. They’re going to come back fighting, and they did. They did their part. You know, I saw a lot of things. I like where we are.”
Eric Gordon, starting in place of Paul, had 19 points, Trevor Ariza 14 and Gerald Green 11 for the Rockets, who shot 40.3 percent from the field. Houston’s Clint Capela led all rebounders in the game with 15.
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