OAKLAND -– After leading the entire fourth quarter of Game 2 of their Western Conference Finals series with the Houston Rockets, the Warriors weren’t about to allow an easy basket to beat them in the final seconds.
With the Warriors clinging to a 99-98 lead and the clock ticking down, Rockets star James Harden, who scored a game-high 38 points, had a chance to take the game-winning shot -– only to have the Warriors scramble back on defense to deny him the opportunity.
How did they do it?
“Everybody hauled a--,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said.
“That’s probably one of the best transition defensive stops we’ve had all year,” forward Andre Iguodala said. “Klay got back, Steph got back, I was back, Draymond was hauling back and HB got back late in the play."
That accounts for all five Warriors on the floor at the time. The hustle worked, as the lead held up as the final score, giving the Warriors a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
With 7.9 seconds left, Harden grabbed the rebound of a Harrison Barnes miss and headed toward the Houston basket. Stopping near the 3-point line, where he was met by Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, Harden tossed the ball to center Dwight Howard near the top of the arc. With about three seconds left, Howard flipped it back to Harden, who was trapped by Curry and Thompson and fumbled the ball under pressure as time ran out.
“It was kind of me and Klay and Andre on the other side retreating, and you saw James kind of put his head down, you knew he probably wasn’t going to pass in that situation,” Curry said. “So just to kind of stand him up before the 3-point line, Klay fronted him right to me and I was able to get a body on him.
“He threw it away to Dwight, who threw it right back. So at that point, it’s just don’t let him get a shot off and try to be the hero.”
There was no individual hero in those final seconds. The Warriors as a unit sprinted back to in hopes of making Harden take a tough shot. They did it well enough to keep him from taking a shot art all.