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Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has gone on the record with ESPN's Ryen Russillo Show and said beating the Golden State Warriors is "the only thing we think about."
On Saturday, the Rockets achieved that goal and topped the Warriors 116-108 in a frenzied showdown between the league's two highest-scoring offenses at Toyota Center.
James Harden finished with 22 points and eight assists in his second game back from a hamstring injury, and his step-back three with 1:10 remaining in regulation proved to be the dagger:
Thanks to Harden's clutch stylings, the Rockets were able to snap the Warriors' 14-game road winning streak and emerge with a 2-1 season series victory over the defending champions.
Harden's late heroics ultimately stole the show, but it was Chris Paul who served as Houston's heartbeat throughout the potential Western Conference Finals preview.
In 35 minutes, Paul finished with a game-high 33 points (10-of-20 shooting), 11 rebounds, seven assists and three steals to help the Rockets improve to 17-0 this season when he, Harden and center Clint Capela (18 points, four steals) are all active.
Beyond the backcourt, Houston received a major boost from role players Luc Mbah a Moute (14 points) and PJ Tucker (12 points) on a night when Eric Gordon was ice cold and managed six points on 2-of-14 shooting from the field.
Tucker also helped spearhead Houston's late defensive surge as the Rockets ratcheted up their pressure on the perimeter and clamped down on Stephen Curry (19 points), Klay Thompson (eight points) and Kevin Durant (26 points) in the game's waning stages.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Golden State scored two points and shot 1-of-8 from the floor (0-of-5 from three) over the final four minutes of the fourth quarter.
Prior to that, careless play plagued the Dubs.
The Warriors committed 19 turnovers—a few ticks above their season average of 15.7—and the Rockets parlayed those giveaways into 23 points on the other end.
With their five-game road trip wrapped, the Warriors will head back to the Bay Area for a three-game homestand that's scheduled to begin Tuesday against the New York Knicks.
The Rockets, though, will eye a third straight win Monday when the Miami Heat come to town.