Breaking down the Golden State Warriors dominant 115-80 victory over the Houston Rockets in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.
What happened: The regular-season Warriors finally showed up against the Rockets. The team that won 67 of 82 games with a league-best point-differential of plus-10.1 had won the first two games of the Western Conference Finals by a combined four points, but they got back to their dominating ways with this 115-80 win in Game 3.
It was 30-18 entering the second quarter, 62-37 at the half, and 92-61 going into the fourth quarter. And the Stephen Curry show was happening all along the way.
Curry’s the real MVP: By the time Curry’s 40-point, seven-assist, five-rebound outing was over, it’s a safe bet that even some Rockets fans had been converted as believers in his game. He hit 12-of-19 shots and 7-of-9 three-pointers, none better than the left-corner look in the third quarter that inspired an older couple sitting courtside to stare at him as if he were from another planet.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the “MVP” chants that had been there for Rockets star James Harden had disappeared. Harden, who had been so spectacular in the first two games against Golden State, had just 17 points and missed 13 of his 16 shots.
What worked for Warriors: Their defense, more than anything. This Rockets team that had averaged 110.1 points per game in the playoffs entering Game 3 scored its lowest total since a 69-65 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder way back on Nov. 16. They shot just 33.7% from the field and 20% from three-point range.
What worked for Rockets: Umm. Thinking. Still thinking. Ah, here it is: the video board inside the Toyota Center. It was a thing of technological beauty in this game just as it always is, albeit with a tougher task this time. When the screen prompted the fans to “Make some noise!” in the third quarter, you would have thought this was the local Houston library.
Unheralded performances: Curry will dominate the conversation after this one, but Warriors big man Andrew Bogut set a key tone early. He had 10 of his 12 points in the first quarter, and finished with 12 rebounds while battling Rockets center Dwight Howard (14 points and 14 rebounds).
What’s next: Game 4 is on Monday in Houston, though the Rockets are unofficially done here. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a seven-game playoff series.