OAKLAND -– With the game in the balance, a Warriors team that punished itself with turnovers forced one from the Houston Rockets to secure a hard-fought 99-98 win Thursday night at Oracle Arena.
After Harrison Barnes missed an acrobatic layup with 7.9 seconds the play, the ball found the hands Rockets star James Harden who, under pressure from Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, lost his dribble as the horn sounded.
With the victory the Warriors took a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals as the best-of-seven series moves to Texas for the holiday weekend.
The Warriors avoided their customary slow start but blew a 17-point second quarter lead before holding off the plucky Rockets in the fourth quarter.
Curry led the way, scoring a team-high 33 points. Andrew Bogut tossed in 14, with Thompson putting in 13 and Draymond Green adding 12.
Harden was otherwise spectacular, scoring a game-high 38 points. Dwight Howard, whose availability was in doubt, finished with 19 points and a game-high 17 rebounds.
Curry and Bogut win the honors for this game.
Curry’s torrid first quarter (15) offset seven Warriors turnovers and helped them build a 36-28 lead after one. He scored three big buckets as they repelled Houston in the fourth.
Bogut not only scored 14 points, but also was a beast in the paint with eight rebounds and four blocked shots over 30 minutes.
Though the Warriors built a large early lead, going up 49-32 with 7:43 left in the second quarter, neither team could sustain any real momentum.
With the Warriors up 87-85 and 5:32 to play, a Bogut slam off a lob from Green ignited a 9-4 run that pushed the lead to 96-89 with 2:25 left.
Though the Rockets responded with a 9-3 run of their own, cutting it to one with 33 seconds to play, the Warriors held on for the win.
Warriors: F Marreese Speights (strained right calf) was listed as out and was placed, along with C Ognjen Kuzmic, on the inactive list.
Rockets: C Dwight Howard (bruised right knee) was listed as questionable, was in the starting lineup and played 40 minutes. G Patrick Beverley (left wrist surgery) and F Donatas Motiejunas (back surgery) were listed as out and placed on the inactive list.
Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday (6 p.m. PDT) at the Toyota Center in Houston, with Game 4 set for Monday.