After two losses by a combined five points, the Houston Rockets return home to face the series-leading Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals Saturday at the Toyota Center.
Down by one with less than 10 seconds remaining, Rockets shooting guard James Harden pushed the ball up the floor with a chance to win the game but coughed up a turnover to the swarming Warrior backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
It was a downtrodden moment for the All-Star Harden, who finished the game with an incredible 38 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists while the Rockets fell behind 2-0 in the series.
Still Harden displayed confidence as the Rockets return home, where they are 6-1 in the postseason.
"It's frustrating to give the game away like that for myself, but my teammates and coaches were behind me," Harden told reporters afterwards. "Just saying that, we're going home to secure home now, go out there Game 3...It hurts, but they did what they had to do. They won two games at home. We're going back home to get two games."
The Warriors, led by Curry’s second straight 30-plus point game, hit the road to try and put Houston in a precarious and seeming insurmountable 3-0 or 3-1 hole. Golden State’s gone 4-1 on the road this postseason.
Curry nailed five threes in route to 33 points, despite Golden State committing 17 turnovers and giving up 24 points on the other end.
But the Warriors received a major boost from veteran center Andrew Bogut, who scored zero points in Game 1 but charged back with 14 points, eight rebounds and five blocks in Game 2.
Bogut, oft-injured and typically asked to take a back seat to Curry and Thompson’s play on the wings, could have been a liability in the series with the Rockets sending out big man Dwight Howard. But he responded with the best postseason game of his career.
The Aussie seven-footer also knows just how critical Game 3 will be in the series.
"We need to keep our momentum going," Bogut said. "They battled hard these two games and it’s not going to be easy in Houston.
"Their home crowd is loud as it is here and obviously they won’t want to go down 3-0."
Though Houston fell for the second straight game, Howard showed little effects of the sprained left knee injury suffered in Game 1 that could have sidelined him. He scored 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting, and ripped down a game-high 17 boards.
Start Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Online: A live stream is available at Watch ESPN here
Betting Odds: Golden State -1.5, o/v 216 points
Prediction: Rockets over Warriors, 110-104