NBA: Warriors force Game 7 with 115-86 rout of Rockets despite poor start but Iguodala still doubtful

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (#30) going up for a layup against Houston Rockets centre Clint Capela (#15) and guard Eric Gordon (#10) during their NBA match on May 27, 2018.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (#30) going up for a layup against Houston Rockets centre Clint Capela (#15) and guard Eric Gordon (#10) during their NBA match on May 27, 2018.PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

(REUTERS) - Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry combined for seven three-pointers in the third quarter on Saturday (May 26) night, rallying the Golden State Warriors from a 10-point half-time deficit to a 115-86 hammering of the Houston Rockets in Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference finals in Oakland, California.

The teams will get a travel day on Sunday before meeting one final time in Houston on Monday night, with the Game 7 winner advancing to the National Basketball Association Finals to face either the Boston Celtics or Cleveland Cavaliers, who play their Game 7 in Boston on Sunday.

But the defending champions are not counting forward Andre Iguodala to return for the decider.

"We're operating under the assumption that he will not play, but he is literally day-to-day," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said in the aftermath of the series-tying victory.

"It's a bone bruise, there's no sort of a timetable, it's more just up to the individual and how he's feeling, and we don't really know. So we'll just keep taking it day by day and see what happens."

The club had termed Iguodala as questionable for Game 6 after the veteran had missed Games 4 and 5 with a bone bruise in his left knee.

The Rockets were also shorthanded without injured point guard Chris Paul, who was receiving treatment "around the clock" and whose status for Game 7 is up in the air due to a hamstring strain suffered late in the Rockets' Game 5 win on Thursday.

Riding a two-game winning streak even without him, the Rockets shocked the home side with an early burst of four consecutive three-pointers to help produce a 39-22 lead after one quarter on Saturday.

But the Warriors crept within 61-51 at half-time, then used powerful three-point shooting of their own to pass Houston before the end of the third quarter and pull away early in the fourth.

"We did a better job moving the ball tonight, for sure," Golden State coach Steve Kerr said post-game.

"The pace was really fast, and I thought the one positive of Houston getting off to that start that they did was the pace was high. I didn't like the poor defence we were playing, but I like the pace. So I think once we settled down and we got the defence in a better position, then we started moving the ball, and the game felt more like a Warriors game."

After combining for 3-for-13 shooting on threes in the first half, Thompson (4-for-5) and Curry (3-for-4) bombed in seven of nine from beyond the arc in the third quarter, during which the Warriors outscored the Rockets 33-16 to take a lead they never relinquished.

Golden State outscored Houston 31-9 in the final 12 minutes.

Thompson saved 21 of his game-high 35 points for the second half and Curry chipped in with 16 of his 29, helping Golden State go up by as many as 30 en route to the series-tying win.

"We like our formula," Kerr said. "We like our defence against these guys, and we feel confident that we can carry this through to Game 7 on the road and continue to make things as difficult as possible on Houston without fouling. I thought that was a real key tonight."

James Harden had a team-high 32 points for the Rockets, including 15 in the first quarter, during which Houston connected on eight of 12 from three-point range to account for a majority of their 39-point total.

The Rockets shot 11-for-22 on threes in the first half, but then just 4-for-17 the rest of the way.

The Warriors, meanwhile, rebounded from a 4-for-18 first half from long distance with a 12-for-20 finish.

Kevin Durant contributed 23 points for the Warriors, who have not been in a Game 7 since the 2016 NBA Finals against Cleveland, a game the Cavaliers won to deny Golden State back-to-back titles.

Draymond Green had a team-high 10 rebounds and nine assists for Golden State, which shot 49.4 percent overall from the field.

Harden, who shot 4-for-12 on threes, finished with seven rebounds and a team-high nine assists for the Rockets, who committed 21 turnovers.

"Little carelessness, little tiredness, whatever," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said after the loss.

"Bottom line, we can't turn it over, and we need to do a better job. But we knew this was hard. They're champs. They're going to come back fighting, and they did. They did their part. You know, I saw a lot of things. I like where we are."

Eric Gordon, starting in place of Paul, had 19 points, Trevor Ariza 14 and Gerald Green 11 for the Rockets, who shot 40.3 per cent from the field.

Houston's Clint Capela led all rebounders in the game with 15.