LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Eric Gordon sank two free throws with 2.4 seconds left, and the Houston Rockets eked out a 98-94 victory over the visiting Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Western Conference Finals on Thursday (May 24) at Toyota Centre.
With the Rockets clinging to a two-point lead, Gordon sealed the victory at the foul line. The Warriors had an opportunity to pull even on their previous possession, but Draymond Green lost the basketball attempting a drive to the basket. Gordon recovered the loose ball.
The Rockets will take a 3-2 series lead back to Oakland, California, with a chance to close out the defending champions on Saturday.
Houston won Game 5 despite James Harden missing all 11 of his three-point attempts while finishing with 19 points on 5-of-21 shooting. He also committed six turnovers.
The Rockets' other leader, Chris Paul, was on the bench for the final 22.4 seconds due to a right hamstring injury. Paul scored 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting in the second half after scoring two points and missing all seven of his field-goal attempts before half-time.
Gordon tallied a team-high 24 points off the bench.
Kevin Durant paced the Warriors with 29 points while Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 45 points on 16-of-31 shooting. However, Curry missed a runner off the glass with the Warriors trailing by one point down the stretch. Green had 12 points, 15 rebounds and six turnovers.
Paul hit his first basket at the 9min 43sec mark of the second half, a three-pointer that lifted Houston to a 52-49 lead. That served to ignite him.
The Rockets benefitted greatly from the Warriors' lackadaisical ball security in the first half, recording nine points off eight Golden State turnovers to tread water despite their horrid shooting. Houston closed the half 6-of-24 from behind the arc with Harden and Paul misfiring on all 10 of their three-point attempts while shooting 4-of-20 overall prior to the intermission.
Golden State closed the second quarter with an 8-0 spurt and pulled even at the break after Durant kept them afloat with 18 first-half points.
After combining for zero points on 0-of-4 shooting in the first quarter, Curry and Thompson started building momentum in the second and closed the half with 18 combined points. When Thompson scored through a foul on the first possession of the second half, the Warriors captured their first lead of the game at 47-45.
Each team wound up with as many turnovers as assists. The Warriors had 18 of each, the Rockets 12 of each.
Houston won despite being outshot from the floor 44.4 per cent to 37.2 per cent.