HOUSTON -- After spending most of Saturday night trailing the Rockets, the Warriors closed hard in the fourth quarter, even taking a lead, but they couldn’t finish the job in overtime.
The result was a 126-121 loss to Houston in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals before a raucous, red-clad sellout crowd at Toyota Center.
By outscoring the Warriors 14-9 in OT, the Rockets avoided the possibility of being swept. The Warriors take a two-games-to-one series lead into Game 4 on Monday night.
Here are three takeaways from a game in which both teams left a lot of blood and sweat on the floor.
Durant puts Dubs on his back
Kevin Durant had a forgettable first half, scoring 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting. His response was to, well, forget it and do better after intermission.
He did. By a lot.
Durant scored 34 points on 9-of-17 shooting after halftime. In blitzing the Rockets with 10 points inside the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, Durant gave the Warriors their first lead since the first quarter and provided the offense that pushed the game into OT.
Durant finished with a game-high 46 points on 14-of-31 shooting, including 6 of 10 from deep and 12 of 12 from the free-throw line.
Splash Brothers come up dry
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, speaking before the game, said it was only a matter of time before Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson -- who combined to shoot 41.6 percent in Games 1 and 2 -- find the range.
Though Durant was spectacular, both Curry and Thompson continued to struggle with their shooting. Neither scored in OT, with Curry missing two shots at the rim and Thompson missing his only attempt.
Playing with the middle fingers of his left hand taped after sustaining a dislocation in Game 2, Curry scored 17 points on 7-of-23 shooting, including 2 of 9 from beyond the arc. He missed his last five shots, including a blown dunk inside the final minute of OT.
Thompson scored 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting, going 2 of 6 from deep.
The Warriors won the first two games with Curry and Thompson failing to inflict their usual damage on offense. They almost pulled it off again, but they couldn't quite close the deal.
Interior defense way too leaky
The Rockets did something surprising, particularly in a playoff game. They altered their identity. And it worked like a boxer using jabs to set up stream of hooks and uppercuts.
Normally relying heavily on 3-point shots, Houston instead opened by attacking the paint, with Eric Gordon having immediate success. The Rockets rang up 32 points in the paint in the first half.
The Rockets then came out in the second half and, with the Warriors paying more attention to penetration, looked more like the team of coach Mike D’Antoni’s dreams. They started launching 3-pointers.
After going 6 of 20 from deep in the first half, Houston shot 12 of 23 in the second to lead by as much as 13 points. The Rockets finished 18 of 43 from deep.