Role (player) reversal: Rockets even West finals

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at May 17 2018 11:52 AM

Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) moves the ball against Golden State Warriors forward David West (3) during the first half in game two of the Western conference finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Thomas B. Shea, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker sparked a revival by Houston's role players, and the Rockets evened the Western Conference finals with a 127-105 victory over the visiting Golden State Warriors in Game 2 on Wednesday.

Gordon scored 27 points off the bench, connecting on 6 of 9 3-point attempts, while Tucker chipped in a postseason-career-high 22 points on 5-of-6 shooting from behind the arc.

Rockets guard James Harden added 27 points and 10 rebounds. He wasn't forced to carry the load singularly as he did in the series opener, when he paired 41 points with seven assists in a 13-point defeat.

Kevin Durant scored a game-high 38 points on 13-of-22 shooting and kept the Warriors within range with 18 points in the third quarter. However, Houston utilized its multitude of offensive weapons and also eliminated the defensive mistakes that proved fatal in the opener, limiting the Warriors to 9-of-30 shooting from 3-point range while surrendering only seven points in transition.

Even with the Warriors' erratic play, the Rockets labored to pull away until midway through the fourth quarter.

Golden State sliced what was a 19-point deficit to 11 with a 13-5 run that bridged the final two periods. However, after Andre Iguodala missed a free throw that would have cut the margin to 10 with 8:12 remaining, Houston responded with an 11-0 burst that included 3-pointers from Gordon, Harden and Tucker. At 111-89, the Rockets finally held an advantage that felt secure.

Houston, who recorded just three fast-break points in Game 1, responded with a concerted attempt to run early and often. The Rockets recorded seven points in transition in the first quarter alone and repeatedly attacked the Warriors early in the shot clock, preventing Golden State from setting up its stifling defense.

The Rockets carried a 26-21 lead into the second period and extended that advantage to double digits with a 12-5 spurt. When the Warriors responded, the Rockets answered with 3-pointers, closing the first half 10 of 23 from behind the arc.

Stephen Curry added 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Warriors but missed 7 of 8 shots from deep. Klay Thompson scored just eight points after posting 28 in the series opener.

Trevor Ariza posted 19 points and six assists for Houston, and Chris Paul scored 16 points.

The Rockets wound up 16 of 42 (38.1 percent) from 3-point range while the Warriors were 9 of 30 (30 percent).

Game 3 is Sunday at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

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