05/21 22:55 CDT Warriors hold off Harden, Rockets 99-98 to take 2-0 lead
Warriors hold off Harden, Rockets 99-98 to take 2-0 lead
By ANTONIO GONZALEZ
AP Basketball Writer
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) --- Stephen Curry scored 33 points to turn back another
spectacular performance by James Harden, and the Golden State Warriors held off
the Houston Rockets 99-98 on Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead in the Western
Harden rallied the Rockets from 17 points down in the second quarter and had a
chance to finish off the comeback in the final seconds of the fourth. Instead,
Klay Thompson and Curry trapped Harden, who lost the ball as time expired.
Harden fell to the floor and put his hands over his head as the Warriors
celebrated on the court, the sellout crowd roared and golden-yellow confetti
fell from the rafters.
Harden had 38 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and Dwight Howard overcame
a sprained left knee that slowed him down to finish with 19 points and 17
rebounds for a Rockets team headed home in a major hole.
Game 3 is Saturday in Houston.
Curry, the NBA MVP, made five 3-pointers to go with six assists and three
rebounds. He got a big boost from his teammates --- notably Andrew Bogut,
Draymond Green and Thompson --- to regroup after the Warriors lost the big lead
in the first half.
But the Warriors pulled ahead again late in the fourth quarter because of Curry
--- with his shot and his passes.
Curry connected on a 3-pointer, then found Bogut under the rim for a layup that
sent the 7-footer flexing his muscles and shouting to the roaring, yellow-shirt
wearing crowd. Bogut missed the ensuing free throw, but the Warriors led 96-89
with 2:25 left.
Harden, the MVP runner-up, kept finding ways to draw fouls and brought Houston
back on free throws. The Rockets also forced the Warriors into an 8-second,
backcourt violation before Harden found Howard for an alley-oop that sliced
Golden State's lead to 99-98 with 33 seconds remaining.
Harrison Barnes missed a difficult reverse layup as the shot clock nearly
expired. Harden got the ball down the court, but was trapped by Thompson and
Curry. Time expired amid the scramble for the ball.
The Warriors bench ran onto the court in celebration. Harden lay on the floor
until teammates helped him up.
That finished a back-and-forth contest --- one that saw the Rockets rally the
same way the Warriors did in Game 1, when they came back from a 16-point
deficit in the second quarter.
Curry made four 3-pointers and scored 15 points in the first quarter, and the
Warriors turned the start of the second into a highlight show without him ---
big blocks, transition dunks and deep 3s.
The most crowd-pleasing moment came when Bogut bounced a pass to Andre Iguodala
for a soaring dunk with Howard protecting the rim on a 3-on-1 break. The spurt
pushed the Warriors up 49-32 with 7:53 remaining in the quarter.
Howard wore a black brace over his sprained left knee. He lacked the usual lift
in his legs --- unable to contest many of those rim-rattling dunks --- but
still produced on both ends.
But the Rockets turned to Harden when they needed a boost. He helped Houston
regroup with a 23-6 run in the second quarter as they took advantage of Golden
State's sloppy turnovers (17 in all), tying the score at 55-all at the half.
Thompson, Barnes and Leandro Barbosa took turns guarding Harden in the second
half with mixed results. The Rockets led by six early in the third quarter,
quieting the crowd, then fell behind 83-77 with Harden on the bench early in
Rockets: Houston is 0-6 against the Warriors this season. ... The Rockets
haven't won at Golden State since Dec. 13, 2013.
Warriors: Golden State is 45-3 at home this season, including 6-1 in the
playoffs. ... The Warriors are 54-0 when leading by at least 15 points at any
point in a game this season.
AMONG THE CROWD
Former San Francisco Giants slugger and home run king Barry Bonds shook hands
with several Warriors players before the game. ... Montell Jordan sang a
stirring rendition of the national anthem and performed his 1995 hit song "This
Is How We Do It" at halftime. ... Oakland native and rapper MC Hammer and actor
Blake Anderson, the star of the TV series "Workaholics," also were among the