Calm Harden fires Rockets past Warriors in Game Three

Fri Apr 22, 2016 3:07am EDT
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(The Sports Xchange) - The frantic, final moments nearly undermined all the Houston Rockets built in scratching out a double-digit lead, but James Harden took advantage of the disarray by doing what he does best.

Harden nailed a step-back jumper with 2.7 seconds left, and the Houston Rockets claimed a 97-96 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game Three of a Western Conference first-round playoff series at Toyota Center on Thursday.

The defending champion Warriors, playing a second consecutive game without All-Star guard Stephen Curry (right ankle sprain), still lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game Four set for Sunday at Toyota Center.

The Rockets blew a 17-point lead and trailed with 10.6 seconds left after Trevor Ariza threw away an inbounds pass that facilitated a fastbreak layup by Warriors reserve guard Ian Clark.

With Houston out of timeouts, Harden followed with a quick dribble, darted into the lane and spun free before nailing a 10-foot jumper.

Warriors forward Draymond Green dribbled the ensuing inbounds pass off his foot and out of bounds for a turnover with one second left.

"A lot of people just get nervous and don't want to be in that situation," said Harden, who scored a game-high 35 points.

"For me, I strive in moments like that, so you just have to have confidence."

Harden added eight rebounds and nine assists. Donatas Motiejunas produced 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Dwight Howard also recorded a double-double (13 points and 13 rebounds) plus two blocks.   Continued...

Golden State Warriors center Marreese Speights (5) looks to pass the ball during the first half against the Houston Rockets in game three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. The Rockets won 97-96. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports