Warriors at Rockets
Staring at a 10-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter and a 3-1 series hole, the Houston Rockets came alive and reestablished homecourt advantage in the Western Conference finals. The Rockets will try to maintain that advantage and carry some momentum back when they host the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 on Thursday.
Houston allowed 126 points on 52.2 percent shooting in a 41-point loss in Game 3 but came out with a renewed passion on the defensive end in Game 4 and held the Warriors to 12 points in the fourth quarter to earn a 95-92 victory. "That was the last piece for us to get over the hump and becoming one of the best teams in the league," swingman Trevor Ariza told reporters after the win. "How we defend, how we pay attention to detail and how we go about playing defense. Tonight, in the fourth quarter when it mattered, we got stops. It let us get back in the game, it let us take the lead and it let us win." Golden State coach Steve Kerr blamed fatigue for his team's poor fourth-quarter performance but conceded that the Rockets were the better team down the stretch. "I felt like in the fourth quarter we just ran out of gas," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "Scored 12 points. Tried to buy a little rest for our guys, but yeah, they just outplayed us in the fourth and they earned it."
TV: 9 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE WARRIORS: Golden State held Houston to 39 percent shooting in Game 4 but surrendered 34 points in the second quarter and 25 in the fourth, and the inconsistency is a matter of concern. "I think we just stop trusting our defense at certain points in the game," power forward Draymond Green told reporters. "We've got to trust our defense, trust the game plan, and stick with it." The Warriors shot 39.3 percent from the floor in the loss and All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson was held to 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting, giving him an average of 10.3 points over the last three games after going off for 28 in Game 1.
ABOUT THE ROCKETS: Houston needs two wins over the next three games to knock the Warriors off their three-year reign as Western Conference champs and gets to play two of those three at home, though that might not matter. "We knew we needed it, but we said all along with both teams home court doesn't really matter," point guard Chris Paul told reporters after the Game 4 victory. "Both teams have the ability to win on the road. We had to prove that to ourselves. Weathering the storm, the runs that they made, and knowing that now we get a chance to go back home, we knew we had to get at least one win here. We got it, so now it's a three-game series." Paul battled a foot injury in Game 4 but turned in his best scoring effort of the series with 27 points on 10-of-20 shooting.
1. Warriors SF Andre Iguodala (leg) sat out Game 4 and is questionable for Thursday.
2. Houston SG Eric Gordon is 3-of-16 from 3-point range over the last two games.
3. Golden State SF Kevin Durant recorded his first double-double of the series with 27 points and 12 rebounds on Tuesday.