OAKLAND, Calif. -- Coach Mike D'Antoni revealed a poorly kept secret after the Houston Rockets' series-tying, come-from-behind 95-92 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday.
Chris Paul has been battling soreness in his right foot during the series.
"Chris felt better. His foot felt better," D'Antoni said. "I called him after Game 3, and he said, 'Coach, I'm telling you, if I can get my foot right, we'll beat these guys.' Lo and behold, he got his foot right. And just like I said, we're back to even."
Paul played a major role in the Rockets' victory, which ended the Warriors' NBA-record 16-game home playoff winning streak. He scored 27 points on 10-of-20 shooting and helped key Houston's dominant defensive effort in the fourth quarter, when Golden State was held to 12 points on 3-of-18 shooting, the Warriors' worst shooting quarter of the season.
A source told ESPN that Paul's foot had been bothering him since the fourth quarter of the Rockets' Game 2 win in Houston. However, the Rockets haven't listed Paul on the official injury report during the series, and he had been evasive when asked about his health.
He acknowledged Tuesday night that he had undergone "a whole lot of treatment" in recent days.
"It's about as good as it's going to be right now," Paul said. "But for us, it's not about that. It's about going out there and getting stops and making big plays when we needed to."
Paul played poorly in Game 3, when he seemed to lack explosiveness, finishing with 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting as the top-seeded Rockets suffered the most lopsided playoff loss in franchise history.
Asked how much better he felt pushing off that foot in Game 4, Paul said, "It was a huge difference."
James Harden, who led the Rockets with 30 points, interrupted: "He's fine, man."
Paul, sitting next to Harden at the podium, immediately reverted to being tight-lipped about the injury.
"Yeah, but I'm fine," Paul said. "So it's cool."
It still took Paul, a 13-year veteran and nine-time All-Star playing in his first conference finals, a while to get in a rhythm Tuesday night. He went scoreless during the first quarter and didn't record an assist until an inbounds pass in the final second of the frame.
Paul missed his first four shots from the floor, including a left-handed layup early in the second quarter that didn't even hit the rim, before finally getting a midrange turnaround to fall with 8:33 remaining in the half.
Paul caught fire minutes later, scoring 12 points in a span of 2:39 as the Rockets took the lead with a 17-5 run to close the half. Paul's scoring flurry featured three 3-pointers -- the first a fadeaway from deep in the left corner that Kevin Durant tightly contested -- and a layup.
Paul had seven points during the Rockets' rally in the fourth quarter, which he started with a 17-foot pull-up jumper immediately after the Warriors pushed their lead to 12 points, matching their largest of the night. Paul also had two of his four assists during the 24-9 run that gave the Rockets the lead for good, capping it with a feed to Eric Gordon for a 3-pointer that put Houston up five with 2:27 to play.
"I just saw a guy who's a mentally tough guy, who wants to win and will do anything to win," Rockets forward Trevor Ariza told ESPN in regard to Paul. "That's who he is. That's the type of person he is and the type of player he is. We don't talk about what's hurting us. We just go out and play.
"Anytime he's on the court, I never doubt him. Whatever he is, he is CP3. That's what we believe -- that anytime he's on the court, that's what he's going to do."