Rock­ets rout War­riors 127-105 to tie se­ries at 1-all

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - SPORTS - By Kristie Rieken

HOUSTON » The Houston Rock­ets were the best team in the NBA in the reg­u­lar sea­son.

They played like it Wed­nes­day night, us­ing a bal­anced scor­ing at­tack to rout the Golden State War­riors 127-105 and even the Western Con­fer­ence fi­nals at one game apiece.

James Har­den and Eric Gor­don each scored 27 points on a night Houston had five play­ers score 16 points or more.

“We can beat any­body, any­where at any time play­ing the way we play,” coach Mike D’An­toni said.

The Rock­ets didn’t trail af­ter the first quar­ter and led by dou­ble dig­its for most of the night. They head to Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia for Game 3 on Sun­day night feel­ing much bet­ter af­ter re­bound­ing from a de­flat­ing 119-106 loss in the se­ries opener.

P.J. Tucker added a play­off ca­reer-high 22 and Trevor Ariza had 19 as both bounced back af­ter strug­gling in Game 1. Tucker had just one point in that game and Ariza scored eight, but was lim­ited on de­fense af­ter col­lect­ing his fifth foul early in the third quar­ter.

“I never worry about my of­fense ... it’s all on de­fense,” Tucker said. “If we get stops we’ll be able to run. It changes the game and it changes the way we play and we know that.”

Kevin Du­rant had 38 points af­ter scor­ing 37 in the opener, but Stephen Curry and Klay Thomp­son com­bined for just 24 points af­ter the pair went for 46 in Game 1.

Houston wasn’t able to slow down Du­rant, but did a much bet­ter job of lim­it­ing open 3-point­ers by Thomp­son and Curry, and the two made just 3 of 12 at­tempts.

“They were des­per­ate tonight and played like it, and we weren’t and it showed,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said.

The War­riors made three free throws to get within 11 early in the fourth quar­ter be­fore the Rock­ets scored the next 11 points, with 3s from Gor­don, Tucker and Har­den to make it 111-89 with about 6½ min­utes to play.

Du­rant made a bas­ket af­ter that, but Houston scored the next eight points to ex­tend the lead to 119-91 with about five min­utes left.

The War­riors got frus­trated in that stretch, with Du­rant get­ting a tech­ni­cal for shov­ing Har­den in the back and Dray­mond Green push­ing Ariza out of bounds sec­onds later. It was then that Kerr sent all of his starters to the bench for good.

Gor­don came off the bench to make six 3-point­ers, Tucker tied a play­off best with five and Har­den added three.

“They were more set­tled tonight and they hit timely shots,” Du­rant said. “The first quar­ter was still the most im­por­tant part of the game. Eric Gor­don hit two big 3s and that kind of set­tled them in. Those shots did it for them.”

Houston avoided los­ing con­sec­u­tive games for the first time this post­sea­son and the War­riors lost in the sec­ond game of a play­off se­ries for the first time since the 2015 NBA Fi­nals, snap­ping a 10-game win­ning streak in such games.

“We got out­played the whole game ... we got it handed to us,” Kerr said. “You can look at it any way you want ... and par­cel it out, but it didn’t mat­ter who we had out there tonight we got beat.”

Houston led by as many as 19 in the first half and was up 64-50 at half­time. The War­riors cut it to 7464 with five quick points from Du­rant, but the Rock­ets opened it back up to 8972 when Gor­don made an off-bal­ance layup be­fore crash­ing to the court while be­ing fouled and made the free throw.

The Rock­ets were up by 16 to start the fourth quar­ter but Golden State got within 98-86 with about 10 min­utes left. Curry had five points in that span, in­clud­ing his first 3 af­ter miss­ing his first six at­tempts of the night.

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