Curry drops 40 as Warriors obliterate Rockets, take 3-0 series lead
Barring the first ever comeback from a 3-0 series deficit in NBA history, the Houston Rockets' 2014-15 season is over.
Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors saw to that on Saturday, with Curry dropping 40 points in an ugly 115-80 Game 3 victory that gives the Warriors a commanding series lead.
It started with a turnover-free, assist-frenzied first quarter and never really slowed down, as the Warriors shot 45.4 percent from the floor, hit 11-of-28 on threes, and had a 21-rebound edge on the glass. Even if the Rockets had played well offensively - they decidedly did not, shooting 33.7 percent as a team and a frigid 5-of-25 on threes - they would have been in tough to keep pace.
Unlike the first two games of the series, the Rockets weren't one bad defensive stretch or one final possession from possibly coming out on the winning side. This was thorough, it was lopsided, and it was decisive.
At least Lil' B seems willing to put an end to his beef with James Harden.
Or maybe not. It's hard to understand Based speak.
So hey, there's hope for Game 4 on Monday. But there is essentially none for the series, despite Houston having become the ninth team to overcome a 3-1 hole last round - NBA teams are 115-0 all-time when taking a 3-0 series lead.
They had their window to strike. Trailing 22-14 with the Warriors having dished seven assists on nine field goals without a turnover, Curry - he of the eight points and two assists in the game's opening 8:30 - took to the bench for a rest.
Over the next five-and-a-half minutes, the Rockets squandered a chance to pull close, shooting 3-of-11 while Curry sat. The Warriors only managed 10 points on their 11 possessions in that time, but Houston's inability to score - in part because they opted to sit James Harden and Dwight Howard for half of this stretch rather - made for a wasted opportunity.
Curry didn't heat up immediately upon checking back in, but he effectively ended the Rockets season over a three-minute stretch later in the quarter, scoring 14 points during a 16-3 Warriors run.
You come across a stat like Curry's performance from, say, the left corner, and you wonder how it's possible ...
... and then he hits floaters like this, making you realize that anything is possible, because this is the MVP, and the laws of physics and theoretical limits of basketball performance don't apply to him:
Curry finished with 40 points, five rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and one block. But it's not the stat line that impresses so much as the ease with which he achieved it - Curry shot 12-of-19 from the floor, 9-of-10 from the line, and 7-of-9 from long-range, setting an NBA record for triples in a single postseason in the process.
And yes, your math is correct. This was Curry's 13th game of the postseason and he already has 64 threes on 44.8-percent shooting. The world's greatest shooter is now averaging 29.2 points, five rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 1.8 steals for the playoffs.
Just in case there were any residual concerns about the health of Dwight Howard's knees, he put them to rest right out of the gate, not that it mattered a great deal (he finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting).
He wasn't the only center dunking in the early going, as Andrew Bogut got in on the action:
As did little-used reserve Festus Ezeli:
Ezeli would get another alley-oop early in the second quarter off of a really nice split-cut action.
Series at a Glance
Game 1: Warriors 110, Rockets 106 (Warriors lead 1-0)
Game 2: Warriors 99, Rockets 98 (Warriors lead 2-0)
Game 3: Warriors 115, Rockets 80 (Warriors lead 3-0)
Game 4: Monday, May 25, ESPN, 9 p.m. ET
Game 5*: Wednesday, May 27, ESPN, 9 p.m. ET
Game 6*: Friday, May 29, ESPN, 9 p.m. ET
Game 7*: Sunday, May 31, ESPN, 9 p.m. ET