The Golden State Warriors and their fans are having a dream season. That dream briefly turned into a nightmare Monday night in Houston.
With 5:52 left in the second quarter, Stephen Curry jumped to contest a shot by Trevor Ariza. Ariza pump fake and that sent Curry flying. Curry’s momentum carried him over Ariza and he landed awkwardly on his back and head.
Curry laid on the floor for several minutes before he got up and walked slowly to the locker room under his own power. The Warriors later confirmed that Curry had suffered a head contusion and was questionable to return to the game.
Without their MVP, the Warriors outscored the Rockets 23-11 over the next five minutes. Klay Thompson led the charge with 12 points. He made up for his Splash Brother’s absence by making four straight 3-pointers.
The problem for the Warriors was that they were already down 19 and the surge only brought them to within seven points with 32.7 seconds left in the first half. Jason Terry sank a 3-pointer with just seconds left to restore a double-digit lead for Houston at halftime.
The Warriors never got closer than two possessions in the second half. The Rockets won 128-115 to stay alive in the Western Conference finals. Golden State still own a commanding 3-1 lead. The series shifts back to Oracle Arena for Game 5 on Wednesday night.
James Harden was spectacular. Harden scored a career playoff-high 45 points on 13-of 22 shooting, including 7-of-11 from 3-point range. The bearded one scored 33 points in the second half and added nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks. Josh Smith connected on his first seven shots and finished with 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Ariza had 17 points and two steals. Dwight Howard added 14 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
Even though the Warriors lost their first opportunity at winning the Western Conference title, they are winners because Curry miraculously returned to the game with 5:58 left in the third quarter. Curry’s return didn’t provide a spark to Golden State, which immediately gave up a 15-2 run to trail 93-71. But his mere appearance on the court brought a sense of relief to his family, the Warriors and the entire Dub Nation.
Curry finished with 23 points, including 12 after his return for the injury. Thompson scored a team-high 24 points. Draymond Green filled the box score once again with 21 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and five blocks before fouling out with 3:09 left in the fourth quarter. Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and Leandro Barbosa all scored in double-figures.
The Rockets shot 56.6 percent for the game, including an astounding 77.3 percent in the first quarter when they erupted for 45 points. Houston connected on 8-of-9 3-pointers in the opening frame. The Rockets scored the first 12 points and never looked back.
Golden State managed to shoot 45.4 percent for the game. The Warriors started 4-of-15 (.267) from 3-point range, but finished 20-of-46 (.435) for the game. Both teams set a new playoff record by combining for most 3-pointers attempted (78) and made (37).
Howard received a flagrant-one foul in the third quarter for elbowing Andrew Bogut in the face. The two were battling for position down low and Bogut gave him a shove. If the foul is upgraded to a flagrant-two, Howard would be automatically suspended one game because he would have reached the maximum points allowed. It will be interesting to see what the NBA does with one of its biggest superstar.