Stephen Curry and Golden State turned all those Houston bricks into a road back to the NBA Finals.
Needing not only all their firepower but also 27 straight misses by the Rockets during an epic cold streak from 3-point range Josh Allen Jersey , the Warriors rallied to keep alive their hopes for a repeat.
Kevin Durant scored 34 points, Curry sparked another third-quarter turnaround, and the Warriors earned a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals by beating the Rockets 101-92 in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals on Monday night.
The defending champions trailed by as many as 15 in the first half after falling behind 17 in Game 6.
”We know we can make an 11-point lead evaporate with two minutes of good basketball,” Klay Thompson said.
Curry, who finished with 27 points, scored 14 of Golden State’s 33 points in the third quarter as Houston’s shooting didn’t just go cold, it froze. The Rockets missed all 14 3-point attempts in that quarter as part of a 1-for-21 second half from long range.
Curry said someone asked him after the victory if it’s still special to get to the finals when it’s the fourth time in a row.
”Yes,” he said, ”because it’s really hard.”
The Warriors will host LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 on Thursday night in the fourth straight matchup between the teams.
James Harden had 32 points as the top-seeded Rockets’ bid to return to the finals for the first time since 1995 fell short without Chris Paul, who was nursing a hamstring injury.
”We just didn’t have that extra juice that we needed,” Harden said.
The Rockets fell apart in the second half again after doing so in Game 6. The Warriors outscored Houston 122-63 in the second half of the final two games.
”It’s amazing how long the NBA game is,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. ”Forty-eight minutes, it lasts a long time and there’s so many opportunities to get yourself going as a team. And with our team, there’s just so much firepower that at some point, we’re going to get going.”
The Rockets finished 7 of 44 on 3-pointers, with Trevor Ariza missing all nine of his attempts, Eric Gordon going 2 for 12 and Harden making just 2 of 13.
Houston was behind by 13 after a 3 by Curry and had missed 27 straight 3-pointers when P.J. Tucker hit one from the corner to cut the lead to 89-79 midway through the quarter.
It was their first 3-pointer since one by Gordon with about 6 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter that put the Rockets up 42-28 during a woeful Warriors start.
”We were lucky to escape out of here,” Kerr said.
Tucker’s 3 was the first of seven straight points for Houston which cut the lead to 89-83.
But Durant scored six points in a 9-2 spurt after that which left the Warriors 97-85 with about three minutes to go.
Houston finally found a little offense after that, using a 7-2 run to cut it to 99-92, but their rally bid came up short.
Thompson added 19 for Golden State after scoring 35 in the Game 6 win and the Warriors got a fourth straight start from Kevon Looney with Andre Iguodala sitting out again with a bone bruise on his left leg.
After being down by 10 at halftime of Game 6, the Warriors trailed by 11 entering the third quarter on Monday night. Golden State opened the third quarter with a 10-4 run to cut the lead to 58-53 after a 3-pointer by Nick Young with about eight minutes left in the quarter.
Tucker made one of two free throws and the teams exchanged layups before Golden State scored nine straight points, with two 3s from Curry, to take a 64-61 lead.
Harden made two free throws before Curry scored eight points in a row Chris Wormley Jersey , highlighted by a 3-pointer which bounced high off the rim before falling back in, to make it 72-63 with just over two minutes left in the quarter.
Golden State scored 33 points in the third quarter for the second straight game while Houston managed just 15 points on Monday night after it scored 16 in the third in Game 6.
Warriors: Curry went to the locker room with trainers between the first and second quarters, but returned to the bench with about 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter and soon returned to the game. … Thompson picked up his third foul with about 8 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter and sat out most of the period. … Draymond Green had 10 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.
Rockets: Houston fell to 6-5 all-time in Game 7s and 4-2 at home. … Capela finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds. … Tucker had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
PUSHING EACH OTHER
Green and Durant were barking at each other several times during the game when things weren’t going well for the Warriors.
”I was cussing him out,” Green said. ”He was cussing me out when I was wrong. I was cussing at him out when he was wrong. But that’s what we do. I am the guy who calls him out and he is the guy who calls me out. It’s great. You have to have that on your team. To know that you’ve got guys in your corner means a lot.”
The Warriors host Game 1 of the finals on Thursday and Game 2 on Sunday.
James Neal had the puck on his stick and was staring at an open net. In a can’t-miss situation, that’s exactly what he did.
Poised to give the Vegas Golden Knights the opening goal in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, the veteran leader of this upstart expansion team hit the right post . Ping! The puck skipped behind Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby and slithered harmlessly toward the back boards.
”You want those chances. Nine times out of 10 you probably put that in the back of the net,” Neal said. ”I had the composure to wait. And then you shoot it and you’re like, `Oh!”’
The Golden Knights, a team in desperate need of a boost of confidence, collectively shrugged as a golden opportunity slipped away.
”It definitely would have changed the outcome of the game and would have given us momentum,” said right wing Alex Tuch, who knows a thing or two about being coming up empty on a close-in shot.
Not surprisingly, the Golden Knights sputtered the rest of the way Monday night in a 6-2 defeat that put them on the brink of elimination. Washington is up 3-1 and can win its first Stanley Cup on Thursday night in Las Vegas.
”Go home, win one game and the pressure is on them,” Neal said, hopefully.
Although the Capitals have blown many a playoff series in the past, only one team, the 1942 Detroit Red Wings, has lost the Stanley Cup Final after holding a 3-1 lead.
”Not where we want to be, that’s for sure,” Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. ”But we have a good bunch of guys with a lot of character in the room. Nobody’s quitting.”
Barring a comeback of historic proportions – an unlikely occurrence after being outscored 12-5 over the past three games – the Golden Knights will always remember this series for ”The Stick” and ”The Post.”
”The Stick” was wielded by Holtby , who used it late in Game 2 to snuff a seemingly sure goal by Tuch in a 3-2 Washington victory. ”The Post” is a symbol of the frustration Vegas has experienced in this series after winning 12 of 15 in roaring to the Western Conference title.
Who knows if things would have been different on Monday night if Neal put the puck in the net?
This much is certain: The reeling Golden Knights were looking for something Andrei Svechnikov Jersey , anything, to build on when they entered Game 4, and a 1-0 lead would have been splendid. Presented with a power play in a scoreless first period, Vegas worked the puck around smartly in the Washington zone. Then, Erik Haula whisked a cross-ice pass to Neal on the left side of the net, and Holtby was slow to react.
”We obviously got some breaks at the start of the game,” the goaltender said. ”Honestly, I thought it was in. Somehow, it didn’t go in.”
Said Neal: ”It’s not like anyone made a save. I shot it off the post on the far side. It’s done with. It’s not the first time it’s happened. Probably won’t be the last. But at this stage, at that moment, it changes the game.”
The Capitals rattled off three straight goals before the period ended to take full control.
Game over. On to the next one for the Golden Knights, who face elimination for the first time during the playoffs.
”You can’t feel sorry for yourself. You’ve got to win a game at home,” Neal said. ”That’s what we’ll focus on. I like the way we played. You’ve got to take the positives.”
Coach Gerard Gallant insisted: ”Tonight’s game was a step forward. Obviously, though, we have no more room for error.”
The Golden Knights could use a little luck. Tuch and Brayden McNabb both lined shots off the post after Neal, who scored with just under 16 minutes left to make it 4-1.
But the outcome by then was all but decided.
The Golden Knights have struggled to generate offense against the tenacious Washington defense, and Fleury has not been as sharp as he was in Vegas’ three previous series. He gave up six goals on 23 shots as Vegas dropped its third straight game.
”Obviously, when you’re a goalie, you don’t want to get scored on,” Fleury said. ”There was a lot of that tonight. It’s never a good feeling.”
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