After a drama-filled Game 3 this past weekend, the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets put up a tremendous display Monday night.
In the end, Houston came out on top by the score of 112-108. The series is now tied up at two with both teams winning at home.
The combination of James Harden and Eric Gordon scored 58 points for Houston. Meanwhile, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson continued to struggle for the Warriors. These are among the top takeaways from Game 4 of the Warriors-Rockets Western Conference Semifinals series.
Warriors with their hands in the cookie jar
We know what Harden likes to do from beyond the arc. Whether he flops or it’s a clear foul, the reigning NBA MVP was fouled on nearly 100 three-point attempts during the regular season. His ability to draw contact played a huge role in Game 4.
Golden State fouled Harden on two three-point attempts in the first half alone — accounting for a total of six points. Down by seven at the half, this was pretty much the difference at that point. Each foul — one one Shaun Livingston and the other on Klay Thompson — were legit.
Threes made a major difference
Houston’s ability to hit threes at an alarming clip came out in droves early on Monday night. The team nailed 11-of-28 attempts from beyond the arc while attempting just 17 two-pointers in the first half. On the other hand, Golden State hit on just 3-of-13 from distance in the first two quarters. That was the difference at halftime despite the Warriors shooting better than Houston, 48.8% to 44.4%.
It didn’t change in the second half. Houston nailed another six threes while the Warriors hit a total of eight treys throughout the game. As much as anything, this was the difference in the game.
Kevin Durant still has it
Having averaged north of 40 points over the past five games, it was a matter of time before KD slowed down. It just wasn’t going to be in Game 4. A visibly frustrated Durant hit on just 4-of-10 shots for 12 points in the first two quarters. Golden State was minus-nine with him on the court.
Durant then did his thing in the third quarter, dropping 17 points to pull Golden State within four in the waning minutes. It might not have been enough for the Warriors to come out on top after he missed a potential game-tying three late in the game, but Durant’s 34 points helped keep Golden State close.
Turnover woes plague Warriors in first half
One of the reasons Golden State had an opportunity to steal Game 3 in Houston was the fact that Steve Kerr’s squad committed only eight turnovers. One of the most turnover-prone teams in the Association, that seemed to be an exception to the rule.
The first half saw Golden State turn the ball over eight times, resulting in 10 points for the Rockets. While the team held on to the ball better in the second half, bad shooting nights from Curry and Thompson eliminated any chance of a comeback. A few less turnovers in the first half might have changed the result of this one.
Chris Paul remains gun shy
As the rest of his Rockets team was hoisting up threes at a near record clip Monday night, Paul passed up on several open shots throughout the game. All said, the All-Star guard attempted just 11 shots in the four-point win. He also dished out just five assists.
This has been a continuing theme throughout the playoffs. Paul has failed to put up as much as eight assists in a single game after averaging that number during the regular year. He’s also attempted a total of 42 shots in four games this series. That can’t continue to be the case.
The brick brothers
It’s clear that Curry and Thompson just don’t have it. The splash brothers shot just 4-of-15 from three-point land in Game 3. Both injured, these two All-Stars were not much better in Game 4 Monday night.
Thompson shot 1-of-6 from distance while Curry connected on just four of his 14 threes. Sure Curry was much better from two-point range and finished with 30 points. But struggling from distance really cost Golden State in this one.
Houston wanted it more
Whether it was P.J. Tucker or Clint Capela, Houston absolutely dominated Golden State on the offensive glass in Game 4. these two combined for nine offensive rebounds, which was one more than the Warriors’ entire team.
More than anything, it was all about hustle here. Houston won the 50-50 balls throughout the evening. And in the end, the team finished with 13 more offensive possessions because of it. Golden State will certainly need to adjust heading into Game 5.
James Harden’s pure domination
Houston went isolation with Harden for a vast majority of the game. It might have struggled in this set late Monday night. But for the most part, the Rockets rode Harden at every turn. He connected on 13-of-29 shots, finishing with a game high 38 points in the process. Harden added 10 rebounds and four assists.
It’s this type of offense that could prove to be deadly for Houston moving forward. One way or another. Isolation against Golden State has proven to be fundamentally flawed in the past. But Harden was more than up for it here.