James Harden, after two less than stellar games to begin this series, was more like himself in Game 3. The bearded one had a line of 35/9/8 as Houston won 97-96 in another game in which the Golden State Warriors did not have Stephen Curry. Harden was 11-26 from the floor and 9-11 from the line.
Overall, the Rockets shot 39.1 percent from the field, 30.6 percent on threes. They had 16 turnovers. Golden State’s numbers went as 43 percent from the floor, 24 percent on triples, with 14 turnovers.
Beyond Harden, the Rockets received 14 points/13 rebounds from Donatas Motiejunas, 13 points/13 rebounds from Dwight Howard, and 12 points from Michael Beasley. It was primarily Harden and the production of these three who were able to overcome Patrick Beverley and Trevor Ariza combing for 7-of-24 shooting.
The long lasting aspect of Game 1 was Golden State’s continued ability to hang around. GSW barely led at any point, and Houston’s command of the outcome went back and forth between too close for comfort and full control. The Warriors did take the lead towards the end of the fourth quarter on a Ian Clark layup, but Harden responded with a mid-range jumper after shaking Andre Iguodala (some cried offensive foul, but that’s for you to decide).
With Curry out, Marreese Speights took over. He drove through the lane, hit from mid-range, and stepped out beyond deep. “Mo Buckets” ended Game 3 with 22 points (7-11 from the floor, 3-6 from deep, 5-6 on free throws). Klay Thompson only went 7-20 and missed all 7 three attempts. Draymond Green totaled 7 turnovers, including a miserable dribble off his foot possession after Harden’s late jumper, and went 3-9.
Considering Harden’s explosion, Curry being out, and Green/Thompson combing for terrible performances, it’s somewhat surprising the Rockets managed to win by just a single point. Credit Houston’s resilience for actually playing with more commitment and focus than in the first two contests, but don’t forget how close this contest was with an MVP-less Warriors squad who also saw most of its key players struggle.
As anyone with a basketball brain on their head can assume, the prevailing talking point heading into Game 4 will be Curry’s status. Steve Kerr commented postgame that Curry’s health/comfort will determine if he plays in Game 4 – it will have nothing to do with Houston’s victory in Game 3.
I’m far from thinking we have ourselves a series. I see GSW still managing to take this back and forth after one more in Houston and the next in Oakland. Game 3 went Houston’s way, but don’t let that change your perspective on the reality at hand.
Game 4 will once again be in Houston on Sunday, 4/24 at 3:30 PM ET.
|B. Rush||DNP — COACH’S DECISION|
|A. Varejao||DNP — COACH’S DECISION|
|S. Curry||DNP — INACTIVE|
|K. Looney||DNP — INACTIVE|
|M. Harrell||DNP — COACH’S DECISION|
|T. Jones||DNP — COACH’S DECISION|
|K.J. McDaniels||DNP — COACH’S DECISION|
|S. Dekker||DNP — INACTIVE|
|A. Goudelock||DNP — INACTIVE|
Officials: Scott Foster, Mark Ayotte, Tom Washington
Time of Game: 2:37
– D. Howard (1:23 – 2nd Qtr)