Warriors, Cavaliers set for 4th straight NBA finals showdown
Date created : Latest update :
Stephen Curry inspired a second-half fightback as the reigning champion Golden State Warriors booked their fourth consecutive NBA finals appearance with a 101-92 victory over the Houston Rockets on Monday.
Curry scored 27 points with Kevin Durant adding 34 as the Warriors advanced to an unprecedented fourth NBA Finals meeting in a row against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Warriors' Western Conference finals game seven victory in Houston handed them a 4-3 series win, and came after the Rockets had led by as many as 15 points in the first half.
The Warriors had looked vulnerable after a sluggish first half performance that saw them trail 54-43 at half-time.
But just as they have done throughout the playoffs, the Warriors found an extra gear in the third period, with Curry and Durant suddenly finding their range from three-point distance to come roaring back into the contest.
The Warriors outscored the Rockets by 33-15 in the third quarter, surging into a double-digit lead that they never looked like surrendering.
Earlier it looked as if Houston were ready to snap the Golden State-Cleveland monopoly, shrugging off the injury absence of Chris Paul to make a fast start.
The Rockets swarmed over the vaunted Warriors offense to keep the visitors firmly on the back foot.
The Warriors looked nervous from the outset, with a string of early mistakes that included two turnovers.
Durant missed three free throws in a row early on as Houston gradually pulled into a 24-19 first quarter lead.
A disgusted Warriors coach Steve Kerr told a courtside television interviewer it was "one of the worst quarters of basketball we've ever played."
The pressure continued in the second, with Clint Capela outstanding on defence for Houston with a string of rebounds.
The Rockets pulled away in the second, with Harden outstanding as the hosts moved 15 points clear with both Durant and Curry struggling from three-point range.
A miserable first half for Golden State saw Eric Gordon make it 54-43 on the stroke of half-time with an aggressive driving layup.
Yet Golden State flicked the switch after the break, and Curry and Durant soon began raining down buckets from distance.
A Durant three-pointer tied it up at 61-61 and Curry then struck with a three of his own to give Warriors a 64-61 lead, the first time they had led since a fleeting 9-7 advantage early in the first.
Two more quick threes from Curry gave the Warriors a nine-point advantage at 72-63, and from there on the NBA champions were too strong as an increasingly desperate Houston chased the game.