Rockets strike back in Game 2 win
If you had to choose between James Harden scoring 41 or 27 in a Western Conference Finals game, you’d be forgiven for choosing the former.
Yet his Game 2 performance helped Houston even the series at 1-1 and quieten the doubters who had questioned their isolation heavy game style following a loss in Game 1.
Harden shot a paltry three-of-15 from behind the arc but it mattered little as the Rockets battered the Warriors, beating them at their own game with quick and decisive ball movement and stout defence.
Houston role players P.J. Tucker, Trevor Ariza and Eric Gordon, who combined for 24 points in the series opener, exploded for 68 points and drove the Rockets in the win despite Harden’s poor shooting night.
Gordon and Tucker combined to shoot 11-of-15 from three (two more than Golden State) and gave the home side a much-needed scoring punch anytime the Warriors looked to get back into the match.
The reigning champs will do all they can to scrub Game 2 from their hands, Kevin Durant’s 38 points preventing the final margin from blowing out further.
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, Golden State’s vaunted shooting backcourt, combined to score just 24 points on 10-of-30 shooting.
The Rockets controlled the game from the opening tip, pouncing on sloppy passes from the Warriors who had 11 first-half turnovers and were up by 14 at halftime.
Golden State closed the gap in the third but it wasn’t enough, big nights from Gordon and Tucker proved too much for the Warriors to handle.
Houston will need similar performances from its role players, particularly as the series shifts to Golden State for Games 3 and 4, if they are to advance to the NBA Finals.
The Warriors can absorb Harden or Chris Paul scoring 30 plus but will be hard pressed to stop the Rockets if multiple players have big nights as they did in Game 2.
Game 3 starts at 10am, Monday AEST.