After 82 games of the regular season and two rounds of the playoffs, the playoff series that has been anticipated nearly all season is finally upon us, the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals.
As could be expected, the Rockets came out energetically, leading as much as by nine points in the first quarter. Golden State would rally back, closing the deficit to one at 30-29 at the close of the period. The Warriors would draw even at 33 with 10:32 left in the half off a Shaun Livingston jump shot. The game would be knotted at 35, 38 and 41 apiece. The Warriors took the lead 43-41 off a Kevin Durant fadeaway jumper and would build that advantage to as much as 7 points at 49-42 on a Stephen Curry layup. Houston would respond to tie the game at 49 when Clint Capela threw one down off a James Harden alley oop pass.
The teams would swap the lead 4 times over the last 1:30 of the first half, before entering halftime tied at 56.
The third quarter would see the teams tied at 58 early on before Golden State went up 61-58 on a Kevin Durant three-pointer. This was a lead that they would not relinquish the rest of the game. Houston would draw within three but never got any closer and would ultimately lose by thirteen, 119-106.
Houston seemed to have no answer for Kevin Durant, who was cooking for the Warriors, scoring 37 points on 14-of-27 from the field. He also added three rebounds, one assist and a blocked shot. Klay Thompson scored 28 points, hitting half of his 18 shot attempts to go along four rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Houston coach Mike D’Antoni had this to say of Kevin Durant:
”He’s one of the best scorers ever. I thought he was extremely good. But we can withstand that. We can’t withstand turning the ball over and giving up so many wide open 3s.”
James Harden had another big scoring game pouring in 41 points in a losing effort. Chris Paul also added 23 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists. Eric Gordon scored 15 off the Rockets’ bench and Clint Capela added 12 points and 6 rebounds.
Now having already earned at least a split, the Warriors will look to take a 2-0 lead back to Oracle Arena when the series resumes Wednesday night at 9:00 PM EST.