Defiant Harden says 'no pressure' as Rockets host game seven

Dean Simpson
May 28, 2018

The 2018 NBA Western Conference Finals will go the distance after the Golden State Warriors found a way to avoid elimination on Saturday in Game 6, defeating the Houston Rockets 115-86 at Oracle Arena.

As it turned out, the key play of the game - in more ways than one - occurred when Paul suffered a strained right hamstring while attempting a missed floater in the key with 51.7 seconds remaining and the Rockets clinging to a 95-94 lead. Paul essentially gives the Rockets two point guards in himself and James Harden, and allows Harden so much more freedom and spacing to be an elite scorer.

Harden led the Rockets with 32 points but had just 10 in the second half. Kevin Durant is averaging 28.7 points and 7.2 rebounds while Stephen Curry is averaging 24.6 points and 4.4 assists. He has single-handedly outscored Golden State's reserves 38-16 in the last two games, both of which Houston has won to reverse what had been a 2-1 deficit in the series.

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green celebrates with guard Klay Thompson during the second half of Game 6 of the NBA basketball Western Conference Finals against the Houston Rockets in Oakland Calif. Saturday

"I guess you could say I was born for it. Man, that felt good", Thompson said.

Their Eastern Conference final is also tied at 3 games apiece. If the Warriors win Game 6, the Rockets would host Game 7 at 9 p.m. on Monday at the Toyota Center. With Andre Iguodala sidelined the past two games with a left lateral leg contusion, Nick Young and Quinn Cook - two players Kerr would probably prefer not to play on such a big stage - have earned meaningful minutes.

"We did a better job moving the ball tonight, for sure", Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. He is going to have to have another game like that if the Rockets want a chance. The Golden State Warriors have lost four of their last six road games. I've had teammates who literally played one play in a playoff game, and made a play and helped us win a game.

"I have no clue why our team is like this", Kerr said. "It's what you play for, to be in a situation where you're one win away from going to the finals".

The focus will now shift to Chris Paul and the status of his hamstring sprain for Game 7. "We're not going to be coy with it", D'Antoni said. In Game 6, they were not hitting those shots, and defensively they let Hill and other supporting Cavaliers get rolling. Based on how the last two games had gone - with Houston coming out on the winning end of two close games - it would have been fair to think that this might be it for the Warriors.

By getting Golden State to the NBA Finals, and helping them win back-to-back games for the first time in this series against a gifted Rockets' team, those doubts can be erased.

For just a while, it seemed like maybe, just maybe, we were headed for the unthinkable.

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