Those last couple of sequences weren’t pretty for the Warriors, but a win is a win, especially in the playoffs. What was pretty were the unbelievable performances from the NBA’s MVP Steph Curry and the MVP runner-up James Harden, who traded blows the entire game and filled up the box score with ridiculous stats. Curry had 33 points and six assists on 5-of-11 shooting from downtown, while Harden narrowly missed a triple double as he finished with 38 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists.
As brilliant as they both were, they each suffered critical lapses in the closing minutes. Curry had six turnovers in the game, one of which came with under a minute remaining. The Rockets were able to force a crucial turnover by trapping Curry on an inbound play and pestering him into an 8-second violation.
On the ensuing possession, Harden executed the pick-and-roll perfectly and got an easy lob jam for Dwight Howard to pull the Rockets within one.
After Harrison Barnes missed a wild layup attempt on the other end, the Rockets got one last possession and somewhat controversially opted against taking a timeout to set up the last play.
Instead, with the Dubs clinging to a 99-98 lead, Harden got the ball out on the perimeter and made a brief but ultimately fatal mistake by giving it up to Howard at the top of the key. He got the ball back immediately for the final shot, but by that point it was already too late, and Curry and Klay Thompson quickly smothered him with the double team and forced a loose ball to secure the one-point win.
As you can imagine, Harden wasn’t very happy with himself headed back to the locker room.
This is truly a devastating loss for the Rockets, who head back to Houston trailing Golden State 0-2 in their Western Conference finals series, which resumes Saturday.