Warriors edge Rockets to double series lead
OAKLAND, May 22
NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors edged the Houston Rockets 99-98 on Thursday to strengthen their advantage in the Western Conference finals.
Curry again came out on top in a duel with James Harden, the Warriors stifling the Rockets star in the moments before the final buzzer to preserve the win. They took a two-games-to-none lead over the Rockets in the best-of-seven series, with the winners to take on the Eastern Conference champions in the NBA finals.
Golden State had to battle to the bitter end. Their eight-point lead was trimmed to one after Harden’s alley-oop pass to Dwight Howard with 33 seconds remaining.
After Harrison Barnes missed a reverse layup at the other end, the Rockets raced the ball up the court.
But Harden was double-teamed by Curry and Klay Thompson as the clock ticked down, passing to Howard on the perimeter.
Howard tossed the ball right back, Curry poked the ball away, and the Rockets were unable to get a potential game-winning shot off.Curry led the Warriors with 33 points, including five three-pointers.
The hosts, who let slip an early 16-point lead to head into halftime tied 55-55, regrouped to take a 77-75 lead into the final period.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he expected every game in the series to be a similar back-and-forth battle.
“We’re right where we need to be,” said Kerr, whose team led the league with 67 regular-season victories.
“We won the two at home. Now we head to Houston. Every game is probably going to be like this.”
Harden finished with a game-high 38 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Rockets, who host game three on Saturday.
Houston center Howard had 19 points and 17 rebounds, playing 40 minutes despite suffering a strained left knee in game one.