OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Eric Gordon scored 25 points with four 3-pointers, Chris Paul converted two free throws with 1:08 left on the way to 23, and the Houston Rockets outplayed the Golden State Warriors without ill NBA scoring leader James Harden for a 118-112 victory Saturday night.
Stephen Curry’s 3 with 1:57 to play pulled the Warriors to 114-108 then his two free throws at 1:26 made it a four-point game before Houston came through at the line.
Kevin Durant scored 29 points and Curry added 25 with five 3s, nine rebounds and seven assists as the Warriors had their five-game home winning streak snapped in a matchup of West powers who met in the 2018 Western Conference finals won in seven games by Golden State.
Early in the fourth, Golden State’s Draymond Green exited the game with a sprained left ankle after grabbing at his foot in clear pain from stepping on teammate DeMarcus Cousins’ foot.
Paul had out 11 of his season-high 17 assists in the first half to reach 9,000 for his career, helping Houston avoid a third straight road loss.
Cousins notched his third straight double-double with 13 points and a season-best 14 rebounds while Klay Thompson scored 20 and had six assists.
Curry’s 3 in the final 30 seconds of the first half and a jumper to beat the buzzer by Andre Iguodala got Golden State to 61-54 at halftime after the two-time defending champions trailed by 20.
While Harden also has a strained neck, coach Mike D’Antoni said the reigning MVP and league scoring leader probably could have played through that.
Harden hurt the neck when he got hit during a practice leading up to Thursday’s road loss to the Lakers and woke up sore the next day.
“He might’ve played even with a sore neck, he had a little touch of the flu. It was a combination of everything,” D’Antoni said.
In the Rockets’ last visit to Oracle Arena, Harden hit a contested 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left in a 135-134 overtime win at on Jan. 3 in which he finished with a triple-double and his fifth straight 40-point game. He was 13 for 32 with 10 3s.
Kenneth Faried started in Harden’s place and delivered 20 points and 10 rebounds. Clint Capela grabbed 15 boards.
The Warriors, who held off Sacramento 125-123 on Thursday night, began 9 for 32 — 3 of 12 on 3s — and didn’t lead for the first time until Curry’s layup at the 9:54 mark of the third. Curry was 5 for 11 from deep.
Much like last time, Golden State’s biggest stars missed key shots when it mattered. The Warriors dug themselves an immediate hole, falling behind 15-0 before consecutive 3s by Thompson and Curry.
They went 14 of 37 on 3s in last month’s matchup with Curry 5 for 15 and Durant 1 of 5.
Rockets: Harden, who missed three games in the opening month with a strained left hamstring, is averaging an NBA-best 36.5 points per game. Houston is 2-2 in games without him this season after going 6-4 with him out last season. … Houston held a 48-47 rebounding edge in the January win and 48-26 this time.
Warriors: Golden State shot 42 for 90, 14 of 36 on 3s. … The Warriors couldn’t match their six-game home winning streak from Oct. 16-Nov. 11. … Reserve G Shaun Livingston rejoined the team after welcoming another daughter, Jonah Jazmine, born Thursday.
He received an ovation at practice Friday, coach Steve Kerr said.
Rockets: Host Atlanta on Monday night.
Warriors: Begin a four-game East Coast road trip at Charlotte on Monday night.
By JANIE McCAULEY , Associated Press