HOUSTON — Kevin Durant leaned ahead in his chair, furrowed his forehead and pursed his lips Saturday evening as he learn the field rating from the Warriors’ 126-121 additional time loss to the Rockets in Sport Three of the Western Convention semifinals.

“They obtained 17 offensive rebounds,” Durant mentioned. “That’s the rationale why they received.”

Within the quick aftermath of Saturday’s defeat, the Warriors repeatedly referenced that 17-7 drawback on the offensive glass as a result of it encapsulated their largest shortcoming: a scarcity of hustle. Determined to keep away from a 3-Zero sequence gap, Houston ratcheted up the depth, powering by way of box-outs to maintain performs alive.


After successful Video games 1 and a pair of because of consideration paid on the margins, the Warriors couldn’t match the Rockets’ will Saturday. Houston guard James Harden, his eyes nonetheless bloodshot in spots from getting hit within the face by Draymond Inexperienced 4 days earlier, drained a step-back 3-pointer and an 8-foot floater to seal Golden State’s destiny.

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However roughly 20 minutes after the ultimate buzzer sounded, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni singled out ahead P.J. Tucker, not Harden, because the workforce’s MVP. Tucker’s 5 offensive rebounds and willingness to dive for unfastened balls set an aggressive tone for Houston.

Saddled with 4 fouls, he watched from the bench early within the fourth quarter as Durant scored 10 factors in lower than two minutes to raise the Warriors to a 94-93 lead. When Tucker re-entered with 10:01 left in regulation, Durant struggled to search out open appears to be like, hitting only one extra shot earlier than additional time.

“P.J. received us this recreation,” D’Antoni mentioned.

Durant nonetheless completed with 46 factors, however his newest gem was overshadowed by his former working mate with the Thunder, Harden. The MVP candidate overcame a 5-for-13 displaying past the arc to hit the evening’s largest pictures. With 41 factors, 9 rebounds and 6 assists, Harden hushed anybody who questioned his toughness after he advised reporters Tuesday that he may barely see for a lot of Sport 2.

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The Warriors toiled by way of lapses in urgency a lot of the common and even within the first spherical, solely to rediscover their hustle as soon as matched up with their largest rival within the convention semifinals. In Video games 1 and a pair of, Golden State was the aggressor, corralling twice as many offensive rebounds (26) as Houston (13) and trying 15 extra pictures.

The Warriors’ protection, lengthy a query mark, was dominant for stretches as they held Houston to an offensive score of 108.3, which might have ranked ninth-worst within the NBA within the common season. However there isn’t any substitute for the specter of a season-ender and, lower than a 12 months after falling to Golden State within the West finals, the Rockets knew that happening 3-Zero could be crippling.

“We had our probabilities, and let’s be trustworthy: It will’ve been a steal if we had received that recreation,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr mentioned. “They outplayed us. They out-boarded us by 20. They had been the extra bodily, aggressive workforce proper from the start.”

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The Warriors canceled apply Sunday in hopes of resting up for Sport four on Monday. However they are going to nonetheless watch Saturday’s video, intent on correcting their hustle points.

Maybe Golden State also can assist Stephen Curry (17 factors on 7-for-23 capturing) and Klay Thompson (16 factors on 6-for-16 capturing) rediscover their offensive mojo. Durant and Inexperienced (19 factors, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) may use some extra assist.

“By way of the place we’re as a workforce, up 2-1 with a chance Monday to go get a win and depart all of it on the market on the ground, that’s what you need going right into a sequence towards an awesome workforce like that,” mentioned Curry, who wore tape on the center finger he dislocated in Sport 2 and missed a dunk within the closing seconds, the Warriors’ final gasp. “I do know we’ll be prepared.”

Connor Letourneau is a San Francisco Chronicle workers author. Electronic mail: [email protected] Twitter: @Con_Chron

Associated slideshow: NBA Playoffs 2019 (Supplied by imagn)


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