The Golden State Warriors showed their championship mettle Saturday, roaring back to rout the Houston Rockets 115-86 to force a decisive game seven in the NBA Western Conference finals. Klay Thompson scored 35 points, Stephen Curry scored 29 and Kevin Durant added 23 as the Warriors rallied from a 17-point first-quarter deficit to knot the best-of-seven series at 3-3 – and keep their bid to reach a fourth straight championship series alive.
“I don’t want to go home,” said Thompson, who made nine three-pointers. “We worked too hard this season to go home.”
But in the early going it looked like the Warriors season could be coming to an end. The Rockets, who led the league with 65 regular season wins, ran roughshod over Golden State in the opening quarter as they raced to a 39-22 lead.
Houston’s Most Valuable Player candidate James Harden dominated early, finishing with 32 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. But the Warriors defense clamped down on Harden in the second half and the Rockets felt the absence of injured point guard Chris Paul, who suffered a strained right hamstring in the Rockets’ game-five victory.
Trailing 61-51 at halftime, the Warriors opened the third quarter on an 8-0 scoring run. They took the lead for the first time since the opening minutes when Curry drained a three-pointer for a 62-61 Golden State lead and soon the rout was on.
The Warriors outscored the Rockets 64-25 in the second half, limiting Harden to 10 points after the break. Eric Gordon, starting in place of Paul, scored just three of his 19 points after the interval.
“When your back’s against the wall, it shows what you’re made of,” Thompson said. Game seven will be on Monday in Houston, and Thompson said the Warriors will be ready.
“Effort, intensity, passion, those three things and playing smart,” he said of what it will take to beat the Rockets on their home floor. “(If) we take the same focus and execute the game plan like we should I have all the confidence in the world in this team.”
The winner of the series will face either the Cleveland Cavaliers or Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. Their Eastern Conference final is also tied at three games apiece