NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Fred Faour: 5 quick thoughts on the Warriors' Game 3 rout of the Rockets
The Warriors took a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals with a 126-85 rout of the Rockets on Sunday night. None of the three games have been close. All three games have been decided relatively early, and the fourth quarter has been meaningless. (Hey, at least it ended in time to watch the Astros' 3-1 win over the Indians). The Rockets will look to do what they did after their bad Game 1 loss and bounce back to even the series. First however, a look at Game 3:
When it was decided: The Rockets struggled in the first half and it proved costly. They managed to hang around early, but several missed layups and poor shooting led to a 11-point deficit (54-43) at halftime. The Warriors weren’t great, either, including 4 of 18 on 3s. But the Rockets scuttled along at 34.9 percent from the field and just 26.7 percent on 3s, and the real problem was nine turnovers to just four for the Warriors. The third quarter started with a 10-0 Warriors run that upped the lead to 21, and it eventually would get as high as 28. The Warriors outscored the Rockets 34-24 in the third quarter and that was that; the fourth quarter was basically garbage time.
Still no answer for Durant: Kevin Durant has been the best player in this series, and he was solid again Sunday night. He scored 25 on 9 of 19 shooting and came up with several clutch plays when the game was still in doubt. The Rockets have not slowed him down yet, and until they figure something out, he will continue to be a handful.
Curry up: Steph Curry has not been good in this series, and he was not great in the first half, starting just 2 for 13. But he cranked it up in the third quarter, starting with mostly layups and backdoor cuts, then he started hitting 3s, and the game just got ugly. He would finish with 35. If the Warriors are going to get great performances out of Durant and Curry, the Rockets have little chance.
Meanwhile, the Rockets stars…: Chris Paul hit a few shots in the second half, but overall he was well below average and finished with 13 points on just 5 of 16 shooting. James Harden was not much better with 20 points. He was 1 of 5 on 3s when it counted, and 2 of 6 overall. The Rockets simply can’t compete unless at least one of those two plays outstanding basketball.
The real killer: Turnovers. The Rockets finished with 19 to just eight for the Warriors, and Golden State converted those into 24 points. The turnover battle has been key in all three games. Both teams feed off the easy baskets and it helps get their offenses going. The Rockets did not protect the basketball, and it came back to haunt them.
The bottom line: You basically saw a repeat of Game 1, and now the Rockets will need a repeat of Game 2 to avoid going down 3-1, which would seem insurmountable. They need to clean up the turnovers and get better games from Paul and Harden, but another effort like Sunday will help hasten the end of the season.