HOUSTON – With MVP candidate Stephen Curry running circles and figure-8s around the Houston Rockets, the Warriors coasted to a 115-80 win in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals Saturday night at Toyota Center.
The victory, the Warriors’ most impressive of the postseason, give them a 3-0 lead in the series and puts them one win away from the NBA Finals.
Curry torched a succession of futile Houston defenders, driving past some and shooting over others, en route to a game-high 40 points. He scored 34 points in 22 minutes in the second and third quarters.
Four other Warriors scored in double figures, as Draymond Green and Klay Thompson each put in 17, while Andrew Bogut had 12 and Festus Ezeli 10.
James Harden scored 17 points to lead the Rockets, while Dwight Howard finished with 14 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
Curry, Curry, Curry – and yet there was so much more, notably Bogut and Ezeli.
After Curry initially occupied himself with running the offense, taking took only two shots in the first quarter, poured it on in the second quarter with 15 points. He scored on drives, on treys, on scoops, from the line – pretty much every possibility except a dunk.
Curry was 12-of-19 from the floor, including 7-of-9 beyond and arc, and made nine of 10 free throws over 36 minutes. He’s the first Warriors to score 40 in a conference finals game since Rick Barry went for 44 in 1976.
Bogut and Ezeli combined for 22 points and 18 rebounds in 39 minutes at center. Moreover, they combined for 10-of-13 shooting from the field.
The Warriors took command in the first five minutes, taking an 11-9 lead they never lost, but truly blew open the game in the second quarter.
Leading 38-29 with 6:15 left in the half, the Warriors closed out on a remorseless 24-8 run for a 62-37 lead going into intermission.
The Rockets in the second half got no closer than 18.
Warriors: F Marreese Speights (strained right calf) was listed as out and placed on the inactive list. C Ognjen Kuzmic was healthy but also placed on the inactive list.
Rockets: C Dwight Howard (sprained left knee), listed as probable, started and played 33 minutes. G KJ McDaniels (fractured right elbow) was listed as probable and did not play. G Patrick Beverley (left wrist surgery) and F Donatas Motiejunas (back surgery) were listed as out.
The teams meet for Game 4 on Sunday (6 p.m.) at Toyota Center.