OAKLAND, Calif. — All-Star point guard Stephen Curry hit a 3-pointer to give Golden State an overtime lead it never relinquished, and the Warriors earned a 102-99 victory over the Houston Rockets on Thursday night.
Warriors center Jermaine O’Neal blocked a dunk attempt by Houston forward Chandler Parsons with 24 seconds left in OT to preserve the lead.
Curry, who forced the overtime with a driving left-handed layup that produced an 89-89 tie with 3.2 seconds left in regulation, connected from 23 feet on Golden State’s second possession of the extra period for a three-point Warriors lead.
The Rockets got within one on a Dwight Howard layup with 1:07 to go, then had a chance to go ahead on their next possession. However, Parsons, breaking backdoor, was denied at the rim by O’Neal with Golden State clinging to a 96-95 lead.
Curry extended the margin to 98-95 by sinking two free throws with 15.9 seconds left. He made it a three-point game again with another pair with 5.8 seconds remaining after Rockets guard James Harden, fouled intentionally with 7.3 seconds to go, closed the gap to 98-97 with two free throws.
Reserve forward Draymond Green iced the win with two free throws after intercepting a desperation Rockets pass with 4.1 seconds remaining.
Harden, who missed from 3-point range just before the buzzer with a chance to win it for the Rockets in regulation, added a dunk at the overtime horn to cap the scoring.
Power forward David Lee led the Warriors (33-22) with 28 points and 14 rebounds in the team’s first win over Houston in three attempts this season.
Curry connected on five 3-pointers on a 25-point night to back Lee. Guard Klay Thompson (12), guard Jordan Crawford (12) and swingman Andre Iguodala (11) also scored in double figures for the Warriors.
Reserve guard Steve Blake, acquired Wednesday in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers, had three points and two assists in 19 minutes during his Golden State debut.
Harden poured in 39 points to lead the Rockets, who entered the game with the league’s longest winning streak, eight games.
Parsons had 21 points, and Howard contributed an 11-point, 21-rebound double-double for the Rockets (37-18), who went only four deep on their bench after trading away one of their backup point guards, Aaron Brooks, earlier in the day. Brooks was sent to the Denver Nuggets for swingman Jordan Hamilton.
The Warriors battled Howard without their starting center, Andrew Bogut, who missed a sixth consecutive game due to left shoulder inflammation.
Down by as many as 11 in the third quarter, the Rockets forged a 73-73 tie in the fourth minute of the final period on a breakaway dunk by Harden.
Six lead changes later, Lee got inside the Houston defense for a right-handed layup that tied the score at 87 with 58.1 seconds left.
Golden State forced an airball from Houston guard Jeremy Lin and a subsequent 24-second violation on the Rockets’ next possession, getting the ball with 34.1 seconds to go.
But Harden, defending the much taller Lee on the block, stripped the ball from the Golden State power forward with 30 seconds left, then connected on a step-back 20-footer on the other end of the floor for an 89-87 lead with 6.9 seconds remaining.
After a timeout, Curry drove through the Houston defense for a tough left-handed layup that produced another tie with 3.2 seconds left.
Harden missed from 3-point range just before the buzzer, forcing overtime.
Lee had 13 of his points in the second quarter as the Warriors, down by as many as eight in the first period, went up by as many as eight. The Warriors led 47-43 at the break.
The turnaround was as much a result of the Warriors’ defense as their offense. Golden State held the Rockets to 26.1 percent shooting (six of 23) in the second quarter and benefitted from six Houston free-throw misses in 11 attempts.
Harden and Howard combined for just eight points in the half on 3-for-14 shooting.
NOTES: The Rockets won the last four season series against the Warriors, never losing more than one game to Golden State in any of those seasons. … Houston’s first win over Golden State this season — 105-83 on Dec. 6 — produced the Warriors’ largest margin of defeat so far in 2013-14. … SF Jordan Hamilton, acquired earlier in the day from the Denver Nuggets for PG Aaron Brooks, is expected to join the Rockets in time to play in Sunday’s game at Phoenix. … Asked before the game about the acquisition of Hamilton, Rockets coach Kevin McHale chose to focus his remarks on the loss of Brooks, saying, “Aaron won games for us.” … When PG Steve Blake took the court for Golden State on Thursday, he became the first player acquired directly from the Los Angeles Lakers ever to play for the Warriors. … Golden State coach Mark Jackson gushed over the addition of Blake before the game, predicting, “He’s going to have a big impact on this team.”
Rockets spoil Griffin’s return in testy affair
If James Harden needed any extra motivation against the Los Angeles Clippers, he found it in the first half.
Harden scored 34 points, and the Rockets held on for a 100-98 victory over the Clippers in a sometimes testy affair on Sunday at Staples Center.
Point guard Chris Paul, who finished with 23 points, missed a contested shot at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.
“It was very important for us just to go out there and play well,” said Harden, who hit seven of 16 shots from the floor, three of five from 3-point range and 17 of 18 free throws. “The last two games we kind of struggled a little bit, but we got our pop back a little bit today, and it was a good win for us.”
Harden provided much of that pop, particularly in the second quarter after Clippers forward Matt Barnes was whistled for a flagrant-1 foul after pushing Harden to the court at 6:02. Harden scored 15 of his 18 points in the period after that, leading the Rockets to a 58-50 halftime lead.
Did the flagrant foul add more fuel for the Rockets’ All-Star guard and MVP candidate?
“Yeah. Things like that are fun,” said Harden, who had 24 points in the first half. “We have fun, we got boosted off of that.”
The win ended a two-game skid for the Rockets (44-22). Houston forward Trevor Ariza scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while forward Terrence Jones added 16 points and 12 boards.
“This was a win that we needed, especially on the road,” Ariza said. “Going into the home stretch, these are the types of games we have to win.”
Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin returned after missing 15 games due to surgery on his right elbow. Griffin had 11 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, but committed five turnovers in 41 minutes.
“I didn’t think I played well,” said Griffin, who managed 4-of-10 shooting. “I was out of rhythm. Way too many turnovers, obviously.”
Barnes scored 19 points and guard J.J. Redick had 15 for the Clippers (42-24), who fell into a tie for the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference standings with the Dallas Mavericks.
Paul lamented a host of turnovers in the defeat, including a critical one involving center DeAndre Jordan.
“I had some bad turnovers,” said Paul, who committed three of the Clippers’ 20 miscues compared to 13 for the Rockets. “On one, I drove it off DeAndre’s foot, the other one I lost towards the end of the half. We have to take better care of the ball. We still had an opportunity to win, but we just didn’t do it.”
The Clippers came back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. Paul scored seven straight points, capping it with a 3-point basket to tie the score at 96 with 3:05 left in the game. Houston got a 3-pointer by Jones, but Barnes countered with a basket to keep Los Angeles within 99-98 with 1:35 left. Los Angeles, though, never scored again.
Griffin got a steal as Ariza attempted a pass to Harden, but Ariza drew a charging foul as Griffin bolted to the bucket with 12 seconds remaining. Griffin remained unhappy about the call after the game.
“If I speak on that, I’ll get fined,” Griffin said.
Harden hit one of two foul shots with 8.9 seconds left, capping the scoring before Paul failed to connect on a jumper in the lane with Ariza defending.
The Rockets outscored Los Angeles 36-20 in the second quarter despite making just 38.5 percent of their shots compared to 44.4 percent for the Clippers. Overall, the Clippers hit 43.9 percent to 37.2 percent for the Rockets. They also held an edge in 3-point shooting, converting 12 of 26 attempts to seven of 30 for Houston. The Rockets, though were 29 of 36 from the foul line to 14 of 24 for Los Angeles.
Jordan finished with 20 rebounds and four blocks.
NOTES: F Blake Griffin’s return benefits PG Chris Paul as much as any Clipper. “Teams have been able to trap (Paul) far more than they can when Blake is on the floor because of (Griffin’s) ability to pass,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I’m sure CP is the happiest of all to have him back.” … Rivers isn’t sure if injured G Jamal Crawford would return before the playoffs. Crawford has missed six games with a right calf contusion. … Rockets C Dwight Howard sat out his 18th game with a right knee edema. “He’s doing everything he can, he’s trying to get better, but until you’re on the floor, it’s impossible to say,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said regarding Howard’s return. … Both clubs resume play Tuesday. Houston hosts the Orlando Magic, while Los Angeles plays the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center.
Spurs’ Ginobili sprains ankle
SAN ANTONIO — Guard Manu Ginobili was helped off the floor late in the third quarter of the San Antonio Spurs’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday due to a sprained right ankle.
Ginobili went down with 43 seconds left in the quarter and with the Spurs leading the Timberwolves by 30 points. He was immediately was led to the locker room, and he did not put any weight on his right leg as he was carried off the court. He did not return to the game.
In 19 minutes during the Spurs’ 123-97 win over the Timberwolves, Ginobili scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting. He battled a stomach illness last week, forcing him to miss a game against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday and leading him to play limited minutes against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.
NBA notebook: Clippers’ Griffin cleared to return
Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin, out the last 15 games with an elbow injury, was cleared to return Sunday against the Houston Rockets.
Griffin had surgery five weeks ago to remove a staph infection in his right elbow.
“He said, ‘I’m ready,'” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before Sunday’s game. “Yesterday the trainers called me and said, ‘If he can go, he can go. He’s been cleared.'”
Rivers said timing likely will be an adjustment for Griffin.
“Timing is timing,” Rivers said. “You lose it when you don’t play in an NBA game. Sometimes you come back and you play great the first game and then you lose your timing. Sometimes it doesn’t. As far as the way we play, it won’t be hard for him at all.”
In 51 games this season, Griffin is averaging 22.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists.
–Spurs guard Manu Ginobili had to be helped off the floor late in the third quarter against Minnesota on Sunday. Ginobili went down with 43 seconds left in the quarter and with the Spurs leading the Timberwolves by 30 points.
He was helped off the floor and immediately was led to the locker room. He did not put any weight on his right leg as he was carried off the court.
Up to that point, Ginobili had scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 19 minutes. He battled a stomach illness last week, forcing him to miss a game against Toronto and play limited minutes against Cleveland on March 12.
–Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr sent emails to three fans who were disappointed that he rested several prominent players, including All-Star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, in Friday’s loss to the Nuggets in Denver.
“There’s two really good sides to the story,” Kerr said, according to the Associated Press report. “Nobody’s wrong here. … I can’t argue with them.”
Kerr received an email from a family that drove from South Dakota to Denver to see Curry, Thompson and the entertaining Warriors play. But Curry, Thompson, center Andrew Bogut and reserve guard Andre Iguodala did not play so they could be rested, and the Warriors lost 114-103.
“I heard from some fans. I received a few emails, stories about driving in from a long distance off and spending a lot of money on tickets,” Kerr said. “I have great sympathy for those people. I really do. It’s a tricky one. It’s something that I think Adam Silver is trying to address through the scheduling shuffling that he’s talking about.
–The Dallas Mavericks recalled center/forward Dwight Powell from the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League on Sunday.
The 6-foot-11, 240-pound Powell played in one game during his most recent assignment to the D-League and finished with 28 points, five rebounds and two assists to lead the Legends in a 115-89 win over the Austin Spurs on Saturday night.
Powell has appeared in 19 games for the Mavericks this season, averaging 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.0 minutes per game.
–The Atlanta Hawks signed forward Austin Daye to a 10-day contract Sunday.
Daye appeared in 26 games (four starts) earlier this season with the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 10.3 minutes.
In 10 games this season with the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League, Daye has averaged 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 blocks in 28.5 minutes.
–The Miami Heat recalled guard Zoran Dragic from the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development League on Sunday.
Zoran appeared in four games (one start) and averaged 16.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.50 steals, helping the Skyforce to a 3-1 record over that span.