James Harden, Rockets blast Jazz to capture series lead
Pelicans, Anthony Davis take flight against Warriors in Game 3
James Harden had 25 points and 12 assists to lead Houston to a 113-92 win over Utah in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinals series on Friday night.
Eric Gordon added 25 points and Chris Paul had 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Rockets. Houston beat Utah in Salt Lake City for the third time this season to take a 2-1 series lead. Game 4 is on Sunday.
Royce O' Neale scored 17 points. Alec Burks chipped in 14 points while Rudy Gobert added 12 points and nine rebounds for the Jazz.
Utah never got on track on offence. The Jazz shot poorly over the first three quarters and committed 16 turnovers. Houston scored 19 points off those turnovers.
On the heels of a listless first-half effort in Game 2, Houston avoided enduring another slow start. The Rockets picked apart Utah's defence practically from the opening tip.
Harden caps flurry
Houston opened the game by scoring baskets on six of its first seven possessions. Harden capped the flurry with his first basket to put the Rockets up 15-5. It only grew worse for the Jazz from there. The Rockets led by as many as 22 in the first quarter, taking a 37-15 lead on back-to-back baskets from Harden and Gerald Green.
Houston made 16 of its 26 shots in the first quarter and totalled 39 points in the period. As effective as the Rockets were on offence, their defence proved equally troublesome for Utah. They forced the Jazz to commit six turnovers before the second quarter and scored nine points off those turnovers.
Utah cut Houston's lead 49-34 midway through the second quarter after O' Neale scored three straight baskets to fuel a 9-0 run. Clint Capela ended the run with a dunk and the Rockets proceeded to outscore the Jazz 31-9 over a 10 minute stretch extending into the third quarter. They pushed their lead to 80-43 on a driving layup from Ariza with 8:01 left in the quarter.
Pelicans, Davis take flight
Anthony Davis had 33 points, 18 rebounds and four steals, and the New Orleans Pelicans defeated Golden State 119-100 on Friday night to trim the Warriors' series lead to 2-1.
Davis was particularly dominant around the basket, scoring numerous times on dunks of the driving, put-back or alley-oop variety, and the Pelicans outscored the Warriors 54-36 in the paint.
Jrue Holiday scored 21 for New Orleans, Ian Clark added 18 points against his former club. As in Game 2, Rajon Rondo once again had a heated exchange with Warriors forward Draymond Green. This time, however, Rondo backed it up with 21 assists.
Rajon Rondo and Draymond Green exchange a shove and some words 👀 <a href="https://t.co/DTVjO1QSsC">pic.twitter.com/DTVjO1QSsC</a>—@DimeUPROXX
Warriors get taste of their own medicine
Klay Thompson scored 26 for Golden State, but missed 13 of 22 shots. Stephen Curry, in his second game back after a sprained knee sidelined him more than a month, missed 13 of 19 shots and finished with 19 points. Kevin Durant scored 22 points for the Warriors, who never led by more than a single point.
Golden State shot uncharacteristically poorly from outside, missing 22 of 31 3-point attempts and finishing at 38 per cent shooting (35 of 92) overall.
The Pelicans, meanwhile, made 14 of 31 threes, with Holiday, Clark, Nikola Mirotic and Solomon Hill each hitting three.
They seemed to benefit from being back at home and looked to be the more comfortable team shooting from the outset.
Hill, who missed all four threes he took in the first two games, made his first three from deep. At one point late in the second quarter, New Orleans was 10-of-15 from 3, while Golden State was just 5-of-15.
Mirotic's third three of the first half put the Pelicans up 60-48 late in the second quarter, but the Warriors' ability to score in bursts help them slash their deficit in half before the period ended.
Pelicans respond to each Warriors run
Thompson, who'd shot poorly in Game 2 and at the beginning of Game 3, scored eight quick points on a driving layup and a pair of 3s, trimming New Orleans' lead to 62-56 at halftime.
But the Pelicans opened the third quarter with a 10-2 run and led by double digits the rest of the way, responding each time the Warriors tried to make a run.
New Orleans lost a 20-point, fourth-quarter lead in Game 3 the last time these teams met in the playoffs in the first round in 2015.
In this Game 3, New Orleans led by 25 in the third quarter after Davis' free throws made it 90-65.
Golden State closed the quarter on a 10-2 run capped by Durant's 3, but New Orleans build the lead back to 26 in the fourth quarter and the Warriors starters were out of the game with five minutes to go.