The Golden State Warriors led wire to wire in their 115-109 Game 2 victory over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday. The Warriors now head to Houston with a 2-0 series lead that had plenty of interesting twists not involving the referees.
After the Warriors jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, both teams suffered through potentially game-changing injuries. Stephen Curry dislocated his left middle finger and briefly left the game in the first quarter to get it reset. Moments later, Draymond Green raked James Harden across the eyes, leaving his vision blurry for the rest of the contest. Both players missed their usual rotations and played 33 and 34 minutes respectively.
For the most part, the game was decided by two pivotal points. Both teams shot over 46 percent from the field. In fact, the Rockets were slightly better. However, they had 17 turnovers and gave up 18 offensive rebounds. Both categories were losing efforts, leading to the Warriors attempting 14 more field goal attempts.
Once again, Kevin Durant and Harden were the game’s leading scorers with 29 points. Durant also produced 5 rebounds and 4 assists on 9 of 22 shooting. He played 43 minutes. Thanks to a couple of trips to the line at the end of the game, Durant made 8 of 10 free throws in Game 2.
Meanwhile, Klay Thompson provided an impact on both ends of the floor. Thompson finished with 21 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. He also had one dunk seconds after the Rockets made a hoop at the other end of the floor. Yet, Thompson’s biggest play may have come on the help defense thwarting the automatic lobs to Clint Capela on the pick n’ roll. The final act came when Thompson intercepted the ball in mid-air with two hands.
Despite the win, none of the big three shot great on the night. Yet, they made timely baskets throughout the night. Thompson was 8 of 18 on the field. Curry scored 20 points on 6 of 16 shooting. In all, they were 23 of 56 from the field. That equates to about 41 percent shooting. Yet, they all made big jump shots in the fourth quarter to secure the lead.
However, the Warriors’ entire starting five deserves credit for playing great basketball. Andre Iguodala produced 16 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. He was the recipient of a number of dunks at the rim when the Rockets double teamed Curry. The play was quite simple. Once the Rockets trapped Curry, he would find Green and he would find Iguodala or make a play somewhere else. As a result, Green finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists. Iguodala shot 6 of 9 from the field, while Green was 6 of 10 from the field. Keep in mind, 10 of their 12 makes came from 2-point range.
Shaun Livingston led the bench with six points. In all the Warriors scored 14 bench points. Austin Rivers missed Game 1 with an illness. He helped the Rockets keep pace with the Warriors with 14 points off the bench. Gerald Green scored six points to give the Rockets 20 bench points in Game 2.
The Rockets also had five starters score in double figures. However, Chris Paul was the second leading scorer with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Paul made back to back 3-pointers in the first half to keep the Rockets within striking distance. Yet, he wasn’t much of a factor in the second half.
The Rockets had two front court players earn double-doubles. Capela produced 14 points and 10 rebounds in the loss. He also blocked two shots. P.J. Tucker produced 13 points and 10 rebounds in the loss. Meanwhile, Eric Gordon scored 15 points in the game.
Yet, Harden only had 4 assists in the game. The Warriors dished out 24 assists and held the Rockets to 17 assists. As a result, the Warriors had a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, while the Rockets had a 1-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Game 3 is set for Saturday at 8:30 p.m. on ABC. The three-day layoff should provide extra rest for Harden and Curry. It will be interesting to see the adjustments each team makes as the series heads to Houston. Yes, the Rockets are the early home favorites at four points.