Los Angeles, CA.— After a longer than expected series for Golden State Warriors in the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers (4-2) that ended last Friday, a quick turnaround against the Houston Rockets in less than 48 hours.
Houston even flew out to the bay area before the Warriors finished their series with Los Angeles to get a jump on the time difference, and getting re-acclimated with Oracle arena. They did this in hopes of giving themselves the best chance to steal a game on the two-time defending champs home floor.
It didn't go the way they had hoped.
The Warriors were able to defend their home floor and take a 2-0 series lead after Game 2 with a 115-109 win on Tuesday night.
Photo By: NBA.com
The conversations leading up to Game 2 was the inconsistency of the officiating in Game 1. Both teams felt the other was able to get away with fouls that ultimately was a major deciding factor. There was a complete 180° in Game 2.
There was an applaud (literally from Rockets Chris Paul in the 3rd quarter) and an appreciation for the job the refs did in officiating the game. There was only a two foul difference in the game (Warriors 23, Rockets 21) and that's all the players and coaches wanted after Game 1.
"Tonight I think it was a great officiated game," Golden State's Draymond Green said in a post game interview. "They let us be physical, both teams, and they made the calls they needed to make. It was kind of disheartening for a game that I love since I was a child to see the talk over the last two days was nothing about basketball and everything about foul calls. Is that what this game is coming to?"
Green finished with a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds (game-high).
That physicality Green is referring to helped cause five quick turnovers from Houston to start the game, those that led to 10 quick points by the Warriors.
Photo By: Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group
All five starters scored in double figures for Golden State.
Kevin Durant who tied with Houston's James Harden for a game-high 29, also spoke positive about what he saw from officials. "I felt like both teams, both coaches, just let the refs do their jobs all night," Durant said. "I think the refs did an amazing job, the players did a great job, and the coaches."
Durant played the most minutes (44) than any other player, and went 9-22 from the field.
Another key storyline heading into Game 3 on Saturday night will be the progress of Steph Curry's middle finger of his non-shooting hand that he dislocated in the first quarter. X-rays were negative and Curry returned to the game. You could see the tape on his fingers bothered him in the beginning as he missed his first four 3-pt attempts.
He made the adjustments and finished the game with 20 points going 3-13 from 3-pt.
"It hurts, but it’ll be alright. I didn’t break anything. I am fortunate and some higher powers were looking out for me on that one, but hopefully before Saturday that goes away and I’ll be fine,” Curry said, “I was able to play. It’s different when I’ve never had a dislocated finger like that before and they pop it back in and you’re just dealing with pain, but I wasn’t thinking about it out there.”
Klay Thompson chipped in with 21 points and Andre Iguodala had 16 (6-9) FG. They had 18 offensive rebounds.
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The Rockets came out not taking care of the ball, which put them behind and playing catchup for most of the game. Then superstar and reigning MVP James Harden took a shot to the face that had him heading back to the locker room. He was poked in the eyes by Warriors Green that hindered Harden' s vision the remainder of the game.
"I could barely see, Harden said. It's pretty blurry right now. Hopefully it gets better day by day." He finished with 29 points on 9-19 from the field.
Head Coach Mike D'Antoni spoke about Harden's injury:
"That's him. I didn't have a doubt he was coming back unless it was something catastrophic," D'Antoni said.
Chris Paul who was one of the players to criticize the officials after their 104-100 loss on Sunday, had 18 points, and 7 rebounds. He sarcastically applauded when head referee Scott Foster called Warriors Kevin Durant for a foul on Harden behind the 3-pt line.
Clint Capela had much more of an impact around the rim, he had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. PJ Tucker chipped in with 13 points after not scoring in Game 1.
Austin River's had 14 points in 24 minutes after missing Game 1 with an illness. He was first one off the bench for D'Antoni when Harden left the game, and played well.
Now going back to Houston, Rockets down two games and all the hopes of avenging last year's Western Conference finals loss to the champs (4-3) after being up 3-2, looks less likely. If they are going to mount a comeback against the two-time defending champs, they can't expect the referees to help them.
Game 3 Saturday night. 5:30 PT on ABC