Monte Poole

Warriors in for a real fight through rest of Conference Finals

Warriors in for a real fight through rest of Conference Finals

OAKLAND -- This Western Conference Finals was never going to be a stroll through a warm breeze. The Warriors, generally superior, have too many blemishes. The Rockets have too much firepower and a memory that surely can recall last Oct. 17.

After winning two of the first three games, the Warriors looked ready to deliver a knockdown in Game 4 Tuesday night. They actually registered two, one in the first quarter and another, seemingly more devastating, in the third.

The Rockets got up each time. They came back with a vengeance, putting sharper teeth in their defense and more gusto in their offense and staying with it until they hung a 95-92 loss on the Warriors to even the best-of-seven series at 2-2.

“This game was sort of trench warfare,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It was just everybody grinding it out.”

The Warriors, for the first time, saw the improved Houston defense that was so heralded at the start of the playoffs. It’s not that they didn’t get open looks. They did. But they were open only after absorbing some physical punishment, and they weren’t open very long.

“They fought and scrambled every play,” Kerr said. “Their half-court defense is pretty good,” conceded Draymond Green.

The Warriors were limited to eight fast-break points. They never could sustain any flow. Stephen Curry was 10-of-26, Kevin Durant 9-of-24 and Klay Thompson 4-of-13. It’s exceedingly difficult to win when your best scorers combine to shoot 36.5 percent from the field and your offense gives away 20 points off turnovers.

The Warriors built two 12-point leads in the first quarter, the Rockets wiped them out in the second to take a 53-46 lead into halftime. When the Warriors, behind scorching 17-point third quarter by Curry, led by 10 (80-70) at the end of three, the Rockets came for blood in the fourth.

“You look at how the game went, we were in pretty good shape for 44 minutes with a chance to win and take really control of the series,” Curry said. “But it didn't happen.”

The Warriors scored all of 12 points in the fourth quarter. They took 18 shots and missed 15. They coughed up four of their 16 turnovers, giving Houston 5 points.

Game.

The Houston team that once routinely collapsed under its own weight now expects to clobber you with it. If Harden fades, and he did, scoring six points in 22 minutes after halftime, Paul is there to close it out. And the defense now rises when needed.

When Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said on Monday that the Warriors were facing more pressure in Game 4, he was trying to pacify his team. He was lying.

That lie is now the truth. The Warriors go back to Houston to face a team that is fresh off showcasing its improved defense and, moreover, more confident than it was when this series started and exponentially more confident than it was after taking a 126-85 drubbing in Game 3.

When your reply to a 41-point loss in Game is to wipe out a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit in Game 4 -- on the road, no less -- it feeds steroids to your swagger.

“We've been doing it all year long,” Harden said of Houston’s resilience. “That's the main reason we're in this position we're in today. (Game 3) was just one loss. We all know what that is. We've got the mentality that we were going to win Game 4. We've talked about it. We've preached it.”

“And we came out and then stopped. They made runs and they were going to especially at home, and we kept fighting, kept fighting, and defensively kept locking in and making big time shots.”

The Rockets came into Oracle Arena on opening night, last Oct. 17, and after trailing by 13 entering the fourth quarter toughed out a 122-121 victory. After wiping out double-digit deficits twice in Oakland to defeat the defending champs, they believe.

That’s what the Warriors now have to face. The New Rockets are different. They can summon a fearsome defense. And they don’t seem inclined to hurt themselves.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Rockets 95, Warriors 92
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm

Warriors blow Game 4, head back to Houston with series tied 2-2

Warriors blow Game 4, head back to Houston with series tied 2-2

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- Too many defensive lapses, too many turnovers and too many missed shots were too much for the Warriors to overcome Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.

The result was a 95-92 loss to the Houston Rockets in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals that leaves the best-of-seven series tied at two games apiece.

Stephen Curry totaled 28 points and Kevin Durant put in 27. But those two, along with Klay Thompson, combined for 23-of-63 shooting against a solid Houston defense.

Unable to find any rhythm or pace down the stretch, the Warriors were 3-of-18 from the field in the fourth quarter, during which they were outscored 25-12.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
With the Warriors trailing for most of the second and third quarters, Curry came alive, giving them a 10-point lead they could not hold.

Curry’s line: 28 points (10-of-26 shooting from the field, including 6-of-13 beyond the arc, 2-of-2 from the line), six rebounds, two assists and two steals. He played 38 minutes and finished plus-10.

TURNING POINT:
After the Warriors took an 80-70 lead into the fourth quarter, Houston reeled off a 21-6 run, taking a 91-86 lead with 3:30 to play.

The Warriors pulled within two, 94-92, on a free throw by Draymond Green with 37.7 seconds remaining. A Chris Paul free throw made it 95-92 inside the final second.

The Warriors had one last shot, a Curry 3-pointer from the corner that bounced off the rim after the horn sounded.

INJURY UPDATE:
Warriors in-game: Thompson sustained a strained left knee in the second quarter but was able to return to the game.

Warriors pregame: F Andre Iguodala (L lateral leg contusion) was listed as questionable and downgraded to out prior to tipoff. G Pat McCaw (lumbar spine contusion) is listed as out.

Rockets: No injuries listed.

WHAT’S NEXT:
Game 5 is scheduled for Thursday. Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4:30 p.m. Pacific, with tipoff at Toyota Center set for 6 p.m.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Rockets 95, Warriors 92
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm

An unsettling thought for Warriors: Iguodala could miss more than one game

An unsettling thought for Warriors: Iguodala could miss more than one game

OAKLAND -- The Hamptons 5 will not be appearing Tuesday night in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.

Warriors forward Andre Iguodala was ruled out two hours before tipoff against the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena.

About 15 minutes before tip-off, the team announced that Kevon Looney would start in place of Iguodala.

It’s a massive loss for the Warriors, as Iguodala had started the last five games, alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green,

“He’s a great defender,” coach Steve Kerr said of Iguodala, who led all non-guards in assist-to-turnover ratio. “He’s an organizer. He’s a guy who settles us down. He continuously makes the right play. We’ll miss all of that.”

More unsettling for the Warriors, there is no timetable for Iguodala’s return.

“If he was close, he would play,” Kerr said. “He’s injured, so he’s no gonna play. We’ll see what happens in a couple days.”

Iguodala sustained a contusion just below his left knee after a knee-on-knee collision with Rockets star James Harden in the fourth quarter of Game 3 on Sunday. Iguodala left the game shortly afterward and did not return.

He did not practice on Monday, opting for treatment that morning and afternoon, as well as more treatment on Tuesday morning.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6pm
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm