OAKLAND, Calif. -- Kevin Durant said, "I wish I had that last play back," referring to the Golden State Warriors' final transition possession with less than 12 seconds remaining in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday.
The Houston Rockets were up by two points when Draymond Green pulled down a defensive board to initiate the break. He passed it to Durant, who dribbled the ball up the court. Instead of taking a shot, Durant found a cutting Klay Thompson along the baseline.
Trevor Ariza closed hard on Thompson, forcing Thompson to put the ball on the floor before firing up an ill-advised turnaround air ball. Durant was seen demanding a kickout, and with 5 seconds on the clock, Green was calling for a timeout that went unnoticed by the officials.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr stuck by his decision not to call a timeout as soon as his team secured possession.
"Well, I wanted the timeout," Kerr said. "Draymond was trying to call one around 4 seconds, once he got trapped. And at that point the officials weren't looking, and they're not going to look down at our bench. So I saw Draymond trying to call it and I was hoping they'd give it to us, but we didn't get it.
"But I'm always a proponent of pushing the ball off of a miss rather than taking a timeout, letting the defense get set up. So, I thought we'd get a better shot in transition. That's why I let them play."
Golden State went into the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead, but the Warriors managed to score only 12 points in the frame, while Houston put up 25 points to come away with the 95-92 win. The Rockets evened the series at two games apiece.
"I think we just stop trusting our defense at certain points in the game," Green said. "We've got to trust our defense, trust the game plan, and stick with it."
Durant gave a breakdown of what he was thinking on that crucial final possession.
"I raced it down. I was trying to see if I had some options. I saw Klay running along the baseline and maybe should have waited until he set his feet, but I just threw a bounce pass and tried to relocate for it," he explained. "But, man, that's not the reason we lost the game. I wish it could have been a better possession at the end, but, you know, we've got to live with that and move on and be better next game."
Stephen Curry (39), Thompson (39), Durant (43) and Green (45) all played 39 or more minutes. Andre Iguodala was sidelined with a left leg contusion. The Warriors outscored the Rockets 34-17 in the third quarter, but due to an even further shortened rotation without Iguodala, Kerr said fatigue played a factor down the stretch.
"It's the Western Conference finals," Green said. "When you're battling getting to the Finals, no one is worried about fatigue. We're just trying to do what you got to do to win the game."
Thompson suffered a knee contusion in the second quarter after he banged it on the hardwood. He headed to the locker room for treatment, then re-entered the game soon after. Team officials said his injury is of no concern moving forward.
"It's sore, but it's early," Thompson said. "I'm anticipating feeling much better tomorrow."
The Warriors dropped a golden opportunity to end the series in Houston on Thursday, but the locker room was surprisingly in good spirits following Tuesday's contest. Durant told ESPN they "just have to get another one" on the road.
As a team, the Warriors expressed disappointment in not sustaining a high level of play rather than focusing on one possession. Durant said that's what they need to fix going into Game 5.
"It's the whole game that we've got to get better at, especially in the fourth," he said. "I think going up 10 going into the fourth, it was a good opportunity for us to kind of take control, and we didn't. So I definitely wish I had that last play back. So I'm going to watch film and see what my options were and just hopefully if I'm in that position again I'll be better."
Green offered his take.
"We know we made a lot of mistakes down the stretch in that fourth quarter. So, we'll be fine," he said.