We knew a few things would have to happen for the Houston Rockets to preserve this NBA playoff series with the Golden State Warriors.
Those things seemed to converge Saturday night in the Rockets’ 126-121 overtime win before a whooping, hollering sellout crowd at Toyota Center.
It all set up yet another Rockets battle for survival in home territory Monday at 8:30 p.m. (Central). Tickets will be at a premium.
First Things First
First of all, we had to know that James Harden was not blinded by the bruised retina he received when poked in the eye in Game 2. Harden had 41 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists to solve that issue, including a clutch 3-pointer in the last minute of overtime.
Secondly, we knew that Harden would need some help, and not just from his running buddy, Chris Paul. Enter Clint Capela and Eric Gordon. Capela got the rowdy crowd on its feet in the first period with a monster block of Andre Igoudala’s tomahawk attempt, and finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Gordon kept the crowd up with a series of big shots that brought the Rockets from behind in the second period, and he finished the half with 20. He added 10 more in the second half.
Then there was the need for defense and dominance underneath. The Rockets performed admirably in at least one of those categories, outrebounding Golden State, 55-35.
Of course the Warriors contributed to their own demise. Whether or not it was because of the fractured finger on his left hand, Steph Curry scored just 17 points on 7-of-23 shooting (2-for-9 from 3-point range). He also blanked on a dunk as time was running out.
Klay Thompson had just 16 points, shooting 6-16.
Kevin Durant was about the only player that kept this from being a blowout. He continually made shots to keep Golden State rolling, and was key to making it a game when he carried the team in the fourth quarter. He finished with 46.
Game 4 Preview
We figured that with the tight margins of the road games, that Houston was just a home court away from keeping the series alive. They proved it.
So with most of the goals accomplished – mainly the win – the Rockets face a certain sellout Monday night with hopes they can keep things going.
It would be nice to see them figure a way to check this Durant thing, and to keep Curry at bay.
But even if both of those goals aren’t within reach, the Rockets certainly need to keep the pressure on in other ways.
That means solid defense, rebounding and continued contributions from everyone that takes the floor.
Carrying an even series back to Oakland would also give the Rockets another shot back in the friendly confines of the Toyota Center on Friday. That would be the hottest of the NBA tickets yet.