OAKLAND, Calif. -- Coach Mike D'Antoni used the most damning four-letter word in the NBA vernacular -- "soft" -- to describe the Houston Rockets' performance in the most lopsided playoff loss in franchise history.
The Golden State Warriors routed the top-seeded Rockets 126-85 at Oracle Arena in Sunday's Game 3 to regain the series lead in the Western Conference finals.
"It's just one thing led to another," D'Antoni said. "Played soft, actually. I mean, you can't do that with these guys. These guys are good."
The 41-point margin of victory was also the largest in the Warriors' playoff history, eclipsing a record set 70 years ago when the franchise was located in Philadelphia. Golden State essentially dominated every facet of the game.
Houston was horrible offensively, shooting only 40 percent from the floor and committing 20 turnovers, which the Warriors converted into 28 points. The Rockets were dreadful defensively, allowing the Warriors to shoot 52.2 percent from the floor and 40.6 percent from 3-point range. And the Warriors won the rebounding battle by a 49-40 margin.
"[D'Antoni is] right," said Rockets guard James Harden, who led Houston with 20 points and nine assists but was beaten defensively for many of Warriors star Stephen Curry's game-high 35 points. "We weren't as aggressive as we needed to be. We started off the game pretty solid, and then we let them gain some confidence to end the first quarter. But just defensively, they didn't feel us, and it showed tonight."
The Warriors held the Rockets scoreless for the final 4:04 of the first quarter, going on an 11-2 run to end the frame with a nine-point lead. Houston never got closer than a six-point deficit after that and felt fortunate to be trailing by only 11 at halftime, considering Harden and co-star Chris Paul had as many turnovers (four) as field goals (4-of-15 shooting) in the first half.
"We've got to be better," said Paul, who finished with 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting and four assists. "I think we've got to come out more aggressive. We were letting them hit first, you know what I mean?"
The Rockets, the NBA's second-ranked offense behind only the Warriors during the regular season, were especially woeful shooting in the first half. Houston shot 34.9 percent from the floor, including only 4-of-15 from 3-point range and 9-of-21 within the restricted area, with many of the missed layups leading to transition points for Golden State.
"We didn't make shots, didn't make plays," D'Antoni said. "It looked like the air seeped out of our balloon. They picked it up in the second half. They made shots and we didn't, but it goes back to force."
Curry's scoring explosion in the third quarter turned the game into a blowout. Curry snapped out of a shooting slump to make all seven of his field goal attempts in the quarter, when he scored 18 of his 35 points, celebrating a 3-pointer over Harden with a shoulder shimmy and punctuating a drive for a floater by shouting, "This is my f---ing house!"
"They gave us a haymaker and we went down," D'Antoni said. "Again, we have short memories, have to. It's 2-1, and we've got to get one up here. This next one, we've got to go get it."