Rockets rebound, take Game 4 to tie up series

The Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. — Chris Paul pounded the ball down demonstratively on Stephen Curry’s home court in sheer delight.

And maybe he sent a little message: These Rockets are for real and very much remain in the championship chase.

Houston handled the defending champions in their hostile, imposing home arena and sustained the latest second-half flurry by Curry, getting 30 points from James Harden and another 27 from Paul to even the Western Conference finals at two games apiece with a 95-92 victory Tuesday.

Curry scored 28 points and Kevin Durant added 27 points and 12 rebounds, but the Warriors missed their final five shots from the floor and their NBA-record postseason winning streak at home ended at 16 games.

The Rockets shook off a 41-point embarrassment in Game 3, a 12-0 deficit to start Tuesday and another big run by the Warriors in the third, then won it with defense down the stretch.

“We’re a team. We’re really good as a team,” Harden said.

Paul rebounded Klay Thompson’s miss just before the final buzzer sounded for the first time and celebrated in front of a stunned, yellow-clad home crowd. A replay review ensued and it was determined Shaun Livingston fouled Paul before the game ended, so Paul made a free throw with 0.5 seconds left.

And he did it all playing on a tender foot.

“A whole lot of treatment,” Paul said. “It’s as good as it’s going to be right now.”

Curry couldn’t get off a final attempt before the buzzer.

Game 5 is Thursday at Houston. Golden State, which went a record 16-1 on the way to last year’s title, will play its longest playoff round after closing out its first two series in five games.

“Now we’ve got to fight and really understand that this is a true playoff-type experience,” Curry said.

Golden State got the ball with 1:27 to play down 94-91 and Thompson and Curry each missed contested 3-pointers.

The Warriors got another chance with 42.5 seconds left following Houston’s shot-clock violation. Curry missed a driving layup and Draymond Green pulled down the offensive rebound and was fouled by Paul, but Green converted only one free throw.

“I thought this is the highest level we’ve ever played defensively, without a doubt,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said, “because we’re talking about the best offensive team ever.”

Green wound up with 11 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists while going at it with Paul all night.

“I’m sure we’ll look at the film and kick ourselves,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Look, this is a great team we’re playing. They won 65 games for a reason.”