James Harden Capped Off The Rockets’ Big First Half With An 80-Footer That Didn’t Count

The Houston Rockets may be facing a 3-0 deficit to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, but they sure didn’t lack confidence opening up the game. They were hotter than they’ve been at any point in the season in the first period — not only was their 45-point quarter their best of the season, it also tied the NBA playoff record for most points in a quarter.

The Warriors made a run of their own (of course) to tighten the contest back up in the second quarter despite Steph Curry leaving after a scary-looking tumble onto his head. The Rockets still managed to finish off the first half with a 10-point lead, but it would have been 13 had James Harden’s ridiculous heave left his hands a couple of ticks.

Let’s talk for a minute about that crazy first quarter though. Josh Smith opened the scoring by nailing a three, because that is a thing that he does sometimes:

That pretty much sums up how it’s gone for the Rockets, who shot a bananas 8-9 from behind the arc and 77 percent overall. They missed more layups than threes, for Pete’s sake. The Warriors just looked shell-shocked by the end, failing to stop the ball in transition, leading to an open James Harden three:

Steve Kerr was interviewed by ESPN on the sideline after the quarter ended, and he reacted with his trademark dry wit:

Sounds about right, Steve. They couldn’t possibly remain that hot (they went 2-6 from deep in the second quarter), but it’s as good a start as the Rockets could have hoped for in their quest to accomplish the unprecedented 3-0 comeback.

(Via BBallBreakdown and Valerie Vine Star)