Rockets edge Warriors in Houston

Sherman Parsons
May 28, 2018

Champions Golden State face elimination from the National Basketball Association playoffs, after falling 98-94 on the road to the Houston Rockets in Game Five of their Western Conference finals series. They haven't looked the same since losing Andre Iguodala to a leg contusion in Game 3, and their offensive machine is malfunctioning at the worst possible time.

With Chris Paul out, Golden State is still favored to win the series, but if they do, it will take the full seven and it will be because the Rockets lost one of their two foundation pieces.

However, this is a Houston team explicitly built with beating these Warriors in mind, a Rockets team that won 65 games this season and forced Game 7 in the Western Conference Finals.

Thompson strained his left knee in the second quarter of Game 4 on Tuesday, but he played through it after receiving treatment in the locker room.

"Klay is moving around very well", Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "We just feel like we play defense, (lock) down and make it tough for them". "I'm just missing shots".

James Harden had opened proceedings with a layup and Houston were almost double-digits ahead of the Warriors at one point in the first quarter. That was Clint Olajuwon, err, Capela, as Rockets guard Gerald Green joked he should be renamed. We all know it's coming. And then with what we've put out there on the floor the last two games, it could have easily been two wins.

As much as Houston played to lose the game, Golden State pretty much choked it away. Nor did it help the Warriors committed 16 turnovers and granted the Rockets multiple trips to the free-throw line (27-of-32).

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The 33-year-old, who starred for the Los Angeles Clippers before arriving in Houston in a trade last June, missed 24 games this season with a variety of injuries. We can tell you he's expecting a high-scoring game and is leaning heavily toward the over.

After Draymond Green hit a 3-pointer that took the Warriors within one point with 1:15 to play, Paul isolated on the other end. He finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists, making several impossible looking shots over the outstretched arms of Warriors defenders in the second half.

"We just didn't want to go out like that", Thompson said, "we wanted to force Game 7 so badly".

The Rockets will have a chance to knock off the Warriors for good, but Paul's health remains a huge question mark heading into Game 6 on Saturday.

Harden scoffed at a reporter who questioned him about his struggles from long range in the last two games, where he's gone a combined 3 for 22. I love the way this team responds when our backs are against the wall. "They're just playing to their fan base and they're basically trying to use the anthem as fake patriotism, nationalism, scaring people".

No arguing they both appreciate Thompson's no-fear shooting approach and ability to nearly single-handedly turn the tide of a game with a timely 3-pointer or two - or nine.

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