OAKLAND (Sporting Alert) — Golden State Warriors drew first blood in their Western Conference Finals battle with the Houston Rockets, following a 110-106 victory in Oakland, on Tuesday night.
The Warriors started the game slowly, but rallied to take control of the contest midway through the second quarter, after erasing a 16 point deficit with a stunning 25-6 run in the last seven minutes of the second quarter.
MVP Stephen Curry scored 21 of his 34 points in the second half to lead the way for Golden State, who shot 46.7 percent from the floor on as a team.
Houston jumped off to a big lead to start the opening quarters and looked in the mood to rattle up a big score on the night until the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs changed up a few things defensively on their way to taking a 1-0 lead in the series.
“We played harder and smarter on the defensive end,” Curry told ESPN at the end of the contest.
“Every time we get stops we get our transition in the open floor and we have so many weapons that kill teams in that situation.”
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Shaun Livingston scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half, while Klay Thompson added 15, Harrison Barnes ended with 14 and Draymond Green had 13 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in a productive night for Golden State.
James Harden had 28 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and four steals in a losing effort for the Rockets, who at one point were shooting 61 percent as a team.
“You can’t give a good shooting team easy layups and that’s what we did,” Harden said.
“It’s all about Game 2 now. We need to watch some films and correct somethings.”
Trevor Ariza contributed 20 points and Josh Smith chipped in with a solid all-round performance of 17 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three blocks for Houston, who will be disappointed about letting such a huge lead slip away.
The game was tied at 97-97 with five-minutes to play in the contest, but the Rockets failed to connect on opening attempts which allowed Golden States to control the game thereafter.
Dwight Howard, who injured his left knee in the first quarter, also fell into early foul trouble, and wasn’t as productive as the Rockets would have liked.
The big center struggled to get going from the floor and finished with only seven points to go along with his 13 rebounds in 26 minutes.
“We defended well they just made some tough shots,” Curry added about Houston’s ability to get buckets.
“I did my part, but other guys stepped up, especially Shaun Livingston.”
Game 2 in the series is Thursday night, again in Oakland.