Golden chance eludes Rockets

Warriors guard Klay Thompson (right) drives past Rockets guard Patrick Beverley during the 115-106 victory against Houston in Game 2 of the Western Conference play-offs.
Warriors guard Klay Thompson (right) drives past Rockets guard Patrick Beverley during the 115-106 victory against Houston in Game 2 of the Western Conference play-offs.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Livingston, Thompson guide Warriors to 2nd win against Houston while Curry is sidelined

OAKLAND (California) • With the National Basketball Association's reigning most valuable player, Stephen Curry, out of action on Monday due to an ankle injury, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr was comforted knowing he had Shaun Livingston in reserve.

Livingston began and ended a key fourth-quarter spurt with baskets as the Warriors beat the Houston Rockets 115-106.

Golden State, now 2-0 up in the Western Conference first-round series, were able to win without Curry, who injured his right ankle in the Warriors' blowout win in Game 1 on Saturday.

"When you lost the MVP, you have concern," Kerr said after the guard missed a play-off game for the first time. "But we believe in our depth and in our ability to win when we're down a man, even if it is Steph."

Curry's status for Game 3, which is scheduled for tomorrow (Friday morning, Singapore time) in Houston, remains up in the air.

"Obviously, being up 2-0 does give us more cushion if we decide to sit him (in Game 3)," Kerr added. "But it will be based on his health, not the series score."

SPREADING THE LOAD

When you lost the MVP, you have concern. But we believe in our depth and in our ability to win when we're down a man, even if it is Steph.

STEVE KERR, Golden State Warriors coach, on playing Game 2 without his star point guard Stephen Curry.

Livingston started in Curry's place and complemented guard Klay Thompson's 34 points with 16 of his own. He also found time for six assists in 29 minutes.

His two biggest hoops came in an 11-1 flurry in the fourth quarter after the Rockets, trying to put Saturday's 26-point loss behind them, clung on 88-85 with 9:51 to play. Livingston began the key run with a jumper, after which the Warriors made seven consecutive free throws. He then capped the burst with a fastbreak hoop that created the Warriors' biggest lead of the game to that point, 99-85, with 6:48 left.

"They do such a good job of capitalising off your missed shots," said Rockets star James Harden, who missed a four-footer that could have pulled Houston within one before Livingston began the run.

Golden State were never threatened after that, en route to a sixth consecutive win against Houston.

Thompson, hitting three three-pointers and 15 of 16 from the free-throw line, led all scorers.

Draymond Green had team highs in rebounds (14) and assists (eight) to go with 12 points, and Andre Iguodala scored 18 points off the bench for the Warriors.

Centre Andrew Bogut had 10 points (on 5-for-6 shooting) and seven rebounds.

"We've relied on our depth all year, not just when Steph's out," Green said. "I think we're the deepest team in the NBA."

Harden led the Rockets with 28 points, 13 coming from the line on 15 free throws. Dwight Howard posted a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double.

Harden, who also had 11 assists, thought a golden opportunity slipped away.

"For sure," he said of Curry's absence. "We played a little bit better (than Game 1) today. Just didn't play well enough to get a win."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2016, with the headline 'Golden chance eludes Rockets'. Print Edition | Subscribe