Steph Curry and James Harden Both Shine, But Warriors Take Game 1
In an MVP showdown, Stephen Curry's Warriors outpaced James Harden's Rockets 110-106 in a back and forth Game 1.
Tied with five minutes to go, the Warriors scored the next 11 points, feeding off of the home crowd's energy. The Rockets answered back, scoring six straight to make it a five point contest with 47 seconds left. Harden couldn't connect with Josh Smith on their initial possession, but then Trevor Ariza got a steal and turned into a transition three to narrow it down to two points.
The Rockets, forced to foul, sent Curry to the line, where he increased the Warriors lead to four. With less than 10 seconds to go, Harden missed a three before time expired.
Curry was his usual MVP-self, hitting 6-11 three point attempts towards a game-high 32 points. Only two of those points came from the free throw line, while he also added 6 rebounds, 5 assists and a pair of steals.
While Harden only had 7 first half points, he still created baskets on offense by dishing out 7 dimes. Then, in the 2nd half, Harden took over the Rockets offense to finish with 28 points on 11-20 shooting to go with 11 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 steals.
Dwight Howard got his left knee rolled up on by teammate Josh Smith with 5:47 left in the 1st quarter, then tried walking it off on sideline before getting it wrapped in ice. 21-year-old rookie Clint Capela, whose 91 playoff minutes coming in have exceeded his regular season minutes, provided some immediate offense and defense by scoring 9 points to go with 4 rebounds, an assist, steal and a block.
Howard returned in the 2nd quarter, but he left again in clear pain in the 4th quarter. In 26 minutes, Howard finished with 7 points and 13 rebounds but also gave up five turnovers as he was unable to secure at least three passes that bounced out of his hands.
Early in the 2nd quarter, the Rockets cruised to a 16 point lead, then the Warriors went with a small lineup with Shaun Livingston and no Andrew Bogut. Livingston kickstarted the offense and led the team in scoring in the first half with 16 points on 5-6 shooting to go with 6 converted free throws. Livingston finished with 29 minutes to Bogut's 16.
Trevor Ariza kept his hot shooting streak from Game 7 against Los Angeles going, sinking 4-5 threes and 7-10 field goals for 20 points.
The Rockets get another chance to crack the Warriors dominance at Oracle Arena on Thursday.