Basketball fans were treated to an exciting first game of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night, as Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors edged James Harden and the Houston Rockets 110-106 in a thriller.
Curry and Harden, who finished 1st and 2nd in MVP voting respectively, dueled all night long, but the MVP eventually bested the runner-up. Curry finished with 34 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in victory, while Harden dropped 28 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists in defeat.
Houston raced out to a 16-point lead in the 1st half, but Golden State was able to erase the deficit with a 2nd quarter surge led by reserve point guard Shaun Livingston, who scored 14 of his playoff career-high 18 points in the 2nd period. The Warriors steered things in their favor by frenzying the pace and spreading the floor with shooters via an extremely small lineup that featured Draymond Green at center.
Houston’s relinquishing of a 16-point lead should be the least of their concerns however, as starting center Dwight Howard sustained a bruise to his left knee during the 1st quarter. Howard was limited 26 minutes of action, and didn’t look nearly as spry as he had this postseason. Howard’s status for Game 2 is currently uncertain, but the Rockets hope he’s able to suit-up on Thursday.
As for Curry and Harden’s duel, this is what playoff basketball is all about. A teams best player making the necessary plays to ensure victory for their squad. The fashion in which it gets done doesn’t matter, winning is the only that does in postseason ball, but when you have talents such as Curry and Harden duking it out for Western Conference supremacy, some beautiful ball is going to be played. It’s nerve-wracking if you’re a Warriors or Rockets fan, but highly entertaining if you are just a fan of the game. Game 2 can’t come soon enough.