James Harden's step-back 3 is clincher as Rockets-Warriors continues to heat up

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/5069/" data-ylk="slk:Draymond Green">Draymond Green</a> looks on as James Harden celebrates hitting a 3-pointer on Saturday. (AP)
Draymond Green looks on as James Harden celebrates hitting a 3-pointer on Saturday. (AP)

Please, for the love of basketball, let us get healthy Rockets-Warriors in the NBA Western Conference Finals.

The two teams met for the third time this season on Saturday night in Houston. And for the third time, they put on a show. From the Rockets spoiling the Warriors’ banner night in October to Houston putting up a fight at home earlier this month despite the absence of Chris Paul, this looks like a series that could actually provide some competition for All-Star laden Warriors.

This time, the edge went to a short-handed Rockets team that got a monster game from point guard Chris Paul and this absolutely fearless step-back three-pointer late in the fourth quarter from James Harden to put a dagger in the Warriors in a 116-108 Houston win.


Harden finished the game with 22 points and eight assists while knocking down 5-of-9 three-pointers. But it was hit backcourt mate’s night to shine on Saturday.

Chris Paul was unstoppable, taking advantage of mismatches off screens to knock down jump shots and find open teammates en route to 33 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. He was on fire from distance too, hitting 6-of-11 three-point attempts.

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The Rockets won the game against a fully-staffed Warriors lineup in spite of missing Trevor Ariza and Gerald Greenwho were suspended thanks to their little dust-up with the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.

Houston jumped out to an early lead with a big opening stanza to take a 40-28 first-quarter lead. But, as they’re wont to do, the Warriors turned it on in the second and third quarters to make it a back-and-forth game that saw the Rockets leading by one at the end of the third before they pulled away in the final minutes.

Kevin Durant led the way for the Warriors with 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Draymond Green added 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists along with a pair of steals and block.

Stephen Curry looked human, hitting on 5-of-15 three-pointers and 6-of-20 field goals en route to 19 points, while Klay Thompson was hard to find in the box score, logging just eight points.

But that’s what’s great about this matchup. There are so many stars and playmakers. Guys are going to have off nights. When they do, others are going to step up.

And if they’re all on their game? Yes, please. Seven games, please.

 

 

 

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