Harden, Rockets outlast Warriors in double OT
OAKLAND, Calif. -- When asked before the Thursday game about the key to beating the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr insisted his team must keep from fouling James Harden.
Never in his wildest imagination could Kerr have envisioned how one foul on the Rockets standout was going to impact the game.
Harden converted two free throws and Eric Gordon added an interior hoop following a flagrant foul on Draymond Green, propelling the Rockets to a 132-127 double-overtime victory that ended the Warriors’ 12-game winning streak.
In a game played mostly outside the 3-point arc -- both teams attempted 44 threes -- a collision in the shadow of the rim and its aftermath provided the critical twist in the Rockets’ first regular-season win over the Warriors since Dec. 13, 2013.
After a 3-pointer by Harden gave Houston a 126-123 lead in the second extra session, Green was fouled by Harden on a follow shot after rebounding a Kevin Durant miss with 2:10 left.
In the process of completing his jump during which he was fouled, Green kicked his right leg in the air, smacking Harden in the head.
After a long video review, the referees deemed Green guilty of a Flagrant-1 foul, giving Harden two free throws after Green got two of his own.
“I never thought that they would call a flagrant foul,” Green said of his feelings during the break in the action. “My thought was I had to make two free throws.”
After getting the bad news, Green made only one of two. And when Harden connected on both his attempts, all of a sudden the Houston advantage was up to 128-124.
The Rockets also retained possession, and they made the most of it when Gordon converted a tough shot in the key with 1:53 to go, creating a six-point lead they were able to massage to the finish.
“I thought Eric Gordon got a big shot in the lane,” Rockets coach Mike D‘Antoni said. “That’s what you have to do. You have to make big shots.”
Harden finished with 29 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists for the 13th triple-double of his career, and the Rockets (12-7) ended an eight-game, head-to-head losing streak to the Warriors.
Ryan Anderson, hitting five of his 10 3-point attempts, matched Harden’s team-high point total with 29. Gordon was among five other Rockets in double figures, chipping in with 23 off the bench for Houston, which must endure the second night of a back-to-back Friday at Denver.
“Intense,” Anderson said. “A great atmosphere like that, that’s something you’ll remember when you’re an old man.”
In a battle of two of the league’s best 3-point shooting teams, the Rockets finished 14 of 44 from behind the arc, while the Warriors struggled to 12 of 44.
Houston was able to extend its streak of consecutive games with at least 10 threes to 18 games.
“A statement win to show the entire NBA that we can compete with anybody in the league,” said Houston’s Patrick Beverley, who had only three points but contributed big-time on the defensive end, where the Rockets held the Warriors without a field goal in the second overtime until a follow shot by Green with 20.1 seconds left.
The Warriors played the final 3:25 of the second extra session without Stephen Curry, who fouled out on an offensive foul. It was his first disqualification since the last time the Rockets beat Golden State, almost three years ago.
Curry finished with 28 points, and Durant had a season-high 39 points and 13 rebounds for Golden State, which lost for the first time since Nov. 4.
Curry shot just 4 of 13 on 3-pointers, Durant 3 of 11 and Klay Thompson 3 of 13.
“We definitely had an off night,” Green said, taking time to cite his three key teammates’ numbers from beyond the arc. “My 0-for-2 was normal. The rest wasn’t normal.”
Green finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists for the Warriors (16-3), whose 12-game winning streak was the third longest in franchise history.
The Warriors held the upper hand in the first overtime, and they had two chances to take a commanding lead, but Curry missed 3-pointers with 2:33 and 1:49 remaining that could have given Golden State a six-point lead.
Gordon countered the second miss with a game-tying 3-pointer with 1:25 to go, and the clubs traded subsequent hoops to send the game into a second overtime tied at 123-all.
“That’s the only way you get these guys,” D‘Antoni said of the Warriors. “The only thing you can do is keep knocking on the door and make some good plays down the stretch.”
After Durant tied the game at 113-all with a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left, the Rockets had the last shot of regulation.
Houston cleared the top of the circle for Harden against Warriors defensive ace Andre Iguodala, and the league’s fourth-leading scorer misfired on a step-back 3-pointer, sending the game into overtime.
NOTES: The combined 88 3-point attempts by the Rockets and Warriors set an NBA record, breaking the previous mark of 82 set by the Rockets and Sacramento Kings on Nov. 25. ... There were 14 lead changes and 13 ties in the game. ... The rivals were meeting for the first time since Golden State eliminated Houston 4-1 in the first round of the 2016 playoffs. The Warriors also recorded a 4-1 win over the Rockets in the 2015 Western Conference finals. ... The Rockets will have at least one fresh body for the Friday night game at Denver. Veteran big man Nene was given the night off to rest. ... Golden State plays host to the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.