(Reuters) - The Golden State Warriors are one victory away from the NBA Finals after routing the Houston Rockets 115-80 in Game Three of the Western Conference finals on Saturday.
Guard Stephen Curry scored 40 points, including seven-of-nine from three-point range, in the Warriors’ near-record road victory that gave them a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
It was the second largest victory margin by a visiting team in the conference finals.
Golden State, who have not been to the NBA finals since 1975, can close out the series in Game Four in Houston on Monday. No team has ever lost a best-of-seven playoff series from 3-0 up.
After giving the Warriors a close contest in the first two games, the Rockets were never in the hunt on Saturday as guard James Harden struggled against Golden State’s stifling defense. He shot only three-for-16 for 17 points.
As brilliantly as Curry played, the Warriors won the match with their strong defense and dominance on the boards, out-rebounding Houston 60-39.
Coach Steve Kerr was delighted his team committed only one turnover in the first half.
“We were up 25 points with a box score that doesn’t look that impressive from a shooting standpoint,” Kerr told reporters.
“The first half was probably the best lesson our team could learn. If we defend like crazy and take care of the ball we’re going to be in good shape.”
Curry, this season’s NBA Most Valuable Player, sounded unfazed by his latest performance.
“The ball movement tonight was the best it’s been all series so when you can get a few (shots) to go down early in the game it builds your confidence even more,” he said.
Houston coach Kevin McHale looked resigned to his fate as he spoke to the media.
“We got hammered on the boards and we didn’t beat them in the paint,” he said.
”They beat us up in those two areas and we had no answers to that. We seemed to get down because our offense wasn’t flowing.
“I thought we’d come out with a little more juice. They just drove us all night long.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Greg Stutchbury