NBA

Houston rebels and punishes Golden State

Kevin Durant des Golden State Warriors monte au panier face aux Houston Rockets lors du match 3 des demies de Conférence en play-offs NBA, le 4 mai 2019 à Houston I Getty/AFP / Tim Warner

The duel, disappointing so far, between and is finally launched: the Rockets beat on Saturday the double champions in title (126-121 after extra time) who, without Kevin Durant, would have been humiliated.

“The Beard” had to be at its best to prevent Golden State from claiming a third win in a row that would have spelled the death knell for Houston’s hopes as no 3-0 team in history NBA play-offs then failed to qualify.

The duel, disappointing so far, between Golden State and Houston is finally launched: the Rockets beat on Saturday the double NBA champions in title (126-121 after extra time) who, without Kevin Durant, would have been humiliated.

His injury to an eye during the N.2 game lost 115-109 on Tuesday is no longer a bad memory: James Harden found his formidable efficiency and scored 41 points in the match N.3.

“The Beard” had to be at its best to prevent Golden State from claiming a third win in a row that would have spelled the death knell for Houston’s hopes as no 3-0 team in history NBA play-offs then failed to qualify.

The Rockets are still led, two wins to one, but they stopped the bleeding and can equalize Monday by winning the match N.4 which will take place again in their room.

The reigning sent his team in overtime with two free throws in the final seconds of regulation time, then bowed Golden State with seven points in overtime.

The Texans could have avoided a final as undecided: after a first quarter in favor of Golden State, Houston took the ascendancy and counted up to 13 points in the 3rd quarter (70- 83).

But Kevin Durant still managed an outstanding match (46 pts) and brought his team up to Houston with four consecutive baskets, including two to three points, early in the fourth period.

If Durant is of the general opinion the best player of these 2019 play-offs, two of his teammates Stephen Curry (17 pts, 7 of 23 shot) and especially Klay Thompson (16 pts, 6 of 16 shot) display a disturbing form.

“It would have been theft”

Stephen Curry (d) of the Golden State Warriors tries to score against the Houston Rockets during the match 3 semifinals of conferences in NBA play-offs, May 4, 2019 in Houston I Getty / AFP / Tim Warner

“I missed too many shots that I normally get, I have to bring more to my team,” said Curry, who did not use his finger injury to explain his inefficiency.

Another reason for concern for the double NBA champions in title, the very limited offensive production of their substitutes (7 pts).

Houston made the difference thanks to his bench (21 pts) and especially to Eric Gordon who scored 30 points, including 20 before the break.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr acknowledged that Houston’s win was well deserved.

“Even if we had chances to win, it would have been flying, because they dominated us in all sectors, rebounds, shoots,” said the coach of the Warriors.

“We came back in the game with a brilliant new performance from Kevin Durant, but we missed a lot of detail and it displeased me,” he said.

Golden State and Houston are in playoffs for the fourth time in five years.

In 2018, their Western conference final was decided in seven games (4-3) in favor of the Californians who found themselves on the brink (3-2) before winning the last two rounds.

“This victory is important, but this is only the beginning: we will have to find this intensity in the next game,” warned Houston leader Chris Paul.

“We knew it was a very good team against us and it’s going to be a fierce battle in every game and every possession of the ball,” said Harden.

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