Posted on May 26, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The Houston Rockets took control of the Western Conference Finals in Game Five and put the Golden State Warriors in a position they are not accustomed to—on the brink of elimination. All the Rockets had to do was take down the Warriors on Golden State’s home court. They’ve done it before; they could do it again—right?
After the first half, it looked like they might do it. But then Klay Thompson happened.
The first half, and especially the first quarter, belonged to the Houston Rockets. That tenacious defense that won the last two games for them frustrated the Warriors once again. Along with a hot start from the three-point line, the Rockets got out to a commanding 17-point lead after one, 39-22.
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Golden State cranked up the defense in the second half and hit a few more shots of their own. But at the half, the Rockets were still in command, 61-51.
However, a ten-point lead is nothing against the Warriors. Houston would have to continue to press and hit three-pointers (they hit 11 of 22 in the first half) if they wanted to win. But not only did the shots quit falling for the Rockets, the Warriors couldn’t miss.
Powered by the Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, the Warriors took over the game in the third quarter. They outscored the Rockets, 33-16, to take an 84-77 lead into the fourth quarter. Whether it was Houstons inability to hit a shot or Golden State’s defense, the Rockets managed a dismal nine points in the fourth while the Warriors poured in another 31.
What looked like a potential series-clinching game for Houston in the first half turned into another embarrassing blowout as the Warriors won, 115-86. After scoring 39 points in the first, the Rockets managed just 47 the rest of the way and 25-points in the second half.
But it wasn’t just Houston’s inept offense for three quarters that won the game. Klay Thompson caught fire in the second half with seven three-pointers. He ended the game with nine total and led the way for the Warriors with 35-points.
“I thought Klay was amazing tonight, not just the 35 points and the nine 3s but his defense,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said after the game (ESPN). “The guy’s a machine. He’s just so fit physically. He seems to thrive in these situations.”
“I guess you could say I was born for it. Man, that felt good,” Thompson said after the game (ESPN).
Steph Curry wasn’t as effective as Thompson (5-14 from three-point range) but had 29 points on the night. Golden State’s offense appeared to come alive when the offense started to flow through him. Normally, it goes through Kevin Durant. But he had an off-night and hit just six of 17 shots for 23 points.
Houston definitely missed Chris Paul. But it appeared that they would be okay, at first. Eric Gordon got the start in his place and hit his first four three-pointers. But he only ended up taking 12 shots on the night and two more three-pointers (which he missed; he had 19 points).
James Harden ended his three-pointer woes by hitting four of 12 attempts and led the Rockets with 32 points. But Houston only got a total of eight points out of P.J. Tucker and Clint Capella.
The Rockets will hope Chris Paul is available for Game Seven, but it doesn’t sound like he’s expected to go. That means it will fall on Harden to carry the Rockets to a win and the NBA Finals. But is he worried?
“Nothing changes for us. We know what we have to do,” Harden said after the game (ESPN. “… We’re still confident. We’re a confident group. We’ve just got one chance.”