Three takeaways from Rockets' Game-3 win over Warriors
The Houston Rockets finally put a win on the board in the Western Conference semi-finals.
After losing the first two games of the NBA second-round playoff series, Houston claimed a 126-121 overtime win against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.
Here are three takeaways from Game 3 that put the Rockets back on track to compete with the reigning champions.
Gordon a difference maker
Eric Gordon might be one of the most important players in this series. The 2017 sixth man of the year is averaging 24 points against the Warriors this postseason, which is up from his regular season average of 16.2 points per game.
The 6-4 guard made seven three-pointers, but he is more than an electric scorer for Houston. Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni has praised his underrated ability on the defensive end this season. Gordon's physicality helped wear down Golden State's elite backcourt.
If Gordon can continue to score efficiently and put pressure on Golden State, Houston could make a serious run.
Golden State's bench is struggling to make an impact
The Warriors' bench has scored 29 points through three games and did not do much in Game 3. Golden State's bench totalled just seven points, five rebounds and two assists on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Rockets' bench contributed 21 points and 13 rebounds.
If Golden State have no faith in their bench to give them valuable minutes, they cannot be creative with line-ups. All five Warriors starters logged more than 40 minutes in Game 3. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant were cold from the field for long stretches.
Lacking a spark from the bench could put the Warriors in a tough spot down the road, even with the most talented roster in basketball.
Rockets are getting scrappy
Austin Rivers noted Houston needed to play harder after Game 2, and they did just that.
The Rockets racked up second-chance opportunities against the Warriors on Saturday. They won the offensive rebounding battle 17-7 and outscored Golden State in the paint 52-40.
Houston forked over twice as many turnovers than the competition, but scored 25 points off Golden State's turnovers. The Warriors only scored nine points off turnovers.
The Rockets need to defend home court on Monday to stay in the hunt, and they are trending in the right direction.