Rock­ets romp to level NBA se­ries with War­riors

The Borneo Post - - SPORT -

LOS ANGELES: The Hous­ton Rock­ets ramped up the in­ten­sity on Wed­nes­day, pow­er­ing past the NBA champion Golden State War­riors 127-105 to level their Western Con­fer­ence fi­nals se­ries at one game apiece.

Hous­ton’s Most Valuable Player can­di­date James Har­den scored 27 points and pulled down 10 re­bounds. Eric Gor­don added 27 off the bench as five play­ers scored in dou­ble fig­ures for a Rock­ets team chas­tened by a 119-106 se­ries- open­ing de­feat on their home floor on Mon­day. “To­tal team ef­fort,” Har­den said. “We played harder and smarter than game one. That was the only dif­fer­ence.”

The Rock­ets sig­nalled their in­ten­tions early. Their seven fast-break points in the open­ing quar­ter more than dou­bled the three they mus­tered in all of game one.

Hous­ton con­nected on three-of-10 from three-point range in the first pe­riod while the War­riors were zero- for- seven and coughed up seven turnovers.

Up 26-21 af­ter one quar­ter, the Rock­ets wouldn’t trail from there. They led 64- 50 by half­time, with four play­ers al­ready in dou­ble fig­ures as they stepped up the pace and tight­ened the de­fen­sive screws.

“Every­thing was fu­eled off our de­fense,” Gor­don said.

“We hit the open man at the right time and guys were knock­ing down shots and when we play that way it’s just a fun game.”

Rock­ets coach Mike D’An­toni said there was no ma­jor change in strat­egy – just more in­ten­sity and bet­ter ex­e­cu­tion from a Hous­ton team that led the league with 65 reg­u­lar-sea­son wins.

“I don’t want to be can­tan­ker­ous,” D’An­toni said.

“You have one of the best of­fenses of all time, at least, with Golden State and we’re try­ing to prove we’re up there with them. You’re not go­ing to come in and change the way you play.

“We are who we are. We just did it bet­ter and longer.” War­riors coach Steve Kerr said the Rock­ets’ en­ergy made all the dif­fer­ence.

“I just think this game was a mat­ter of the Rock­ets bring­ing the force that’s nec­es­sary to win a game and we didn’t,” Kerr said.

“We had seven turnovers in the first quar­ter. We set the tone early with our own play and al­lowed them to get some con­fi­dence and some easy buck­ets in tran­si­tion.

“But give them the credit they came out and played a great game. They got ev­ery­body go­ing.

“We got what we de­served. They kicked our butts, no other way to say it.”

Kevin Du­rant led the War­riors with 38 points, but Stephen Curry was the only other Golden State player in dou­ble fig­ures with 16.

Klay Thomp­son scored just eight points, Dray­mond Green six and An­dre Iguo­dala five.

Curry con­nected on seven of 19 shots from the floor, mak­ing just one of eight three-point at­tempts in what he called a “frus­trat­ing night.”

Over­all the War­riors were just nine of 30 from three-point range. They fin­ished the game with 15 turnovers – 11 of those com­ing be­fore half­time, by when most of the dam­age was done. — AFP

— AFP photo

James Har­den (left) shoots against the Golden State War­riors in the sec­ond half of Game Two of the Western Con­fer­ence Fi­nals of the 2018 NBA Play­offs at Toy­ota Cen­tre in Hous­ton, Texas.

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