Houston capitalise on Splash Brothers' shooting slump

Houston Rockets guard James Harden shooting as Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant defends during Game 3 of the Western Conference semi-finals at Toyota Centre on Saturday. Harden paced his team with 41 points.
Houston Rockets guard James Harden shooting as Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant defends during Game 3 of the Western Conference semi-finals at Toyota Centre on Saturday. Harden paced his team with 41 points. PHOTO: REUTERS

HOUSTON • The Golden State Warriors anticipated the loud boos. They anticipated the added intensity. And they anticipated the strategic adjustments.

But, unlike how things have played out for most of the year anytime the two-time defending National Basketball Association champions encountered adversity away from home, they folded.

Much of their 126-121 overtime loss in Houston in Game 3 of the Western Conference semi-finals had to do with the "Splash Brothers" enduring a prolonged scoring slump from long range.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have missed at least two-thirds of their three-pointers for four straight games - their worst play-off career run.

But, while they have managed to get by without their premier shooting duo on fire, it finally told on Saturday despite Kevin Durant leading all scorers with 46 points.

Although Curry had 17 points, he was seven for 23, just two of nine from beyond the arc and failed to score during both the fourth quarter and overtime.

Thompson fared little better despite contributing 16 points on six-of-16 shooting as he was also held pointless in overtime, making only two of six three-pointers.

Curry's uncontested missed dunk with 19.2 seconds left on the clock in overtime was a microcosm of everything that went wrong for the All-Star in Houston, eliciting howls of derision from the home fans and countless memes in the aftermath.

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  • Golden State's sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have missed at least two-thirds of their three pointers for four straight games.

Post-game, he sheepishly admitted "it just wasn't my night".

The guard said: "Had a nice head of steam and probably a little bit of frustration too around how the rest of the night went, but not my finest moment.

"I just got to make those (shots). Got to produce, and it just didn't happen tonight."

However, Draymond Green defended his teammate, who is dealing with a dislocated finger suffered in Game 2, insisting "we know his shot will start falling".

The All-Star forward, who recorded his sixth career play-off triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, added: "You grow to expect that. You don't really expect to have a guy to have an off night like he did.

"Nonetheless, we need Steph to continue to be Steph. Continue to shoot the basketball, no matter if he's struggling or not.

"When he's on the floor, he opens a lot of things for everybody else. Still have an impact that way."

But, after squandering an opportunity to force the Rockets to try being the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit, Houston, who trail 2-1, now believe they "can close the game".

All-Star guard James Harden, who paced his team with 41 points, said: "That's what I'm here for, that's what I do. It's going to be a fight, every possession, every game. You've got to be physically tough, mentally tough."

Golden State will seek to rectify their shooting deficiencies in Game 4 today at the Toyota Centre, before the series shifts back to Oakland, California.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, DPA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2019, with the headline 'Houston capitalise on Splash Brothers' shooting slump'. Print Edition | Subscribe