The Houston Rockets jumped out to a lead as much as nine points in the first quarter to flex a bit of their Western dominance. With the game tied 56 points apiece at the half, this series appeared to shape up as promised.
When the Warriors “Hamptons Five” lineup is in the game you better be prepared to weather any barrage of runs in order to stay afloat. Late in the 3rd quarter, Stephen Curry gave the Warriors a defensive boost by stealing the ball from James Harden which led to an easy dunk for Andre Iguodala. 78-70 advantage Golden State and they would build their largest lead of the game at this point.
Golden State led by a total of 13 points but the Rockets found a way to cut that lead down by seven points with just under five minutes remaining in the game. A steal by Iguodala and an offensive rebound later by Klay Thompson would help Curry set up Thompson for a three-point basket that quieted the Houston crowd and a likely dagger for Game 1.
Kevin Durant led the Warriors in scoring with 37 points (14-for-27 from the field). There was no answer for Durant as he shot over any defender that Houston showed on him.
The Rockets were led by James Harden’s 41 points (14-for-24 from the field). In his first conference finals game, Chris Paul contributed with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists. The Rockets struggled to find any kind of defensive answer late in the fourth and a couple of turnovers led to Golden State scoring opportunities.
”You’re not going to come in and just knock them out,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said. ”There were too many times where we had mental lapses. We didn’t switch properly, turned the ball over and missed too many layups. We need to do a better job of staying up mentally.”
The Rockets will get another chance on Wednesday night as they host Game 2. The series will shift back to Oracle Arena for Game 2 and 3.