HOUSTON -- Stephen Curry exploded for 14 of his 27 points in a third quarter that the Golden State Warriors used to take over the game and ultimately defeat the Rockets in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.
The Warriors were down by 11 points at halftime and faced a first-half deficit as high as 15. However, the defending champs outscored the Rockets 33-15 in what was a pivotal third frame. Curry went 5-of-6 from the field and 4-of-5 from distance as he logged 11 of the 12 third-quarter minutes. Curry was having a subpar game with eight points on 3-of-10 shooting up until his third-quarter explosion.
"Not surprising," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Curry's performance. "It usually happens at some point during the game. But that's ultimately what loosens the game up and what gets us going is Steph's offense, and Steph's high screens, and 3-point shots off those screens. For whatever reason, he seems to infuse us with energy. Kevin [Durant] keeps us going with just his methodical scoring. But when Steph and Klay [Thompson] get it going from 3, that's when our team really seems to take off."
Golden State took its first lead of the contest in the third and never relinquished it.
"For us to have the firepower to kind of turn the momentum to our side pretty quickly, you know, get some stops, make some shots, and start to feel a little bit better about ourselves, it was a fun night all the way around," Curry said. "Obviously stressful, but fun."
The Warriors are the first team in postseason history to win multiple elimination games in the same series when trailing by 10 or more points at halftime. The Warriors trailed by 10 at halftime in Game 6 and 11 at intermission on Monday in Game 7.
Curry couldn't quite explain why he loves the third quarters.
"I don't know. I mean, obviously, I've been playing well in the third quarter this series. It's a point where, like I always say, it's a full 48-minute game," he said. "You have to have endurance, you've got to have resiliency, you've got to have confidence in yourself, no matter how the game's going up until that point, that you can turn it around.
"It's been great to come out of the locker room kind of focused, locked in, made some shots, get some stops and just have fun. Obviously, thankfully tonight with the way the first half went, it was like clockwork, so it was good."
Houston missed 27 straight 3s at one point during the game. Rockets swingman Trevor Ariza went 0-of-12 from the field in Game 7. Ariza and Dennis Johnson are the only two players to go 0-for-12 or worse in a Game 7, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Johnson went 0-14 in the Game 7 of the 1978 NBA Finals.
Draymond Green told ESPN: "You live by the 3, you die by the 3."
Houston scored only 25 points in the second half of Game 6 and 28 in the second half of Game 7. As a result, the Warriors managed to climb out of a 3-2 series hole.
"This is a special moment," Curry said. "We talked about it leaving this building after Game 5, this was a part of our story that we hadn't been through before. Our backs against the wall, not having home-court advantage, needing to win two games to keep ourselves alive. This is a true testament to how hard it is to get to the Finals, how hard it is to have a chance to play for a championship."
Golden State will meet the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive year.
Durant, who was the 2017 Finals MVP, told ESPN he is looking forward to his matchup with LeBron James.
"Like this series, Trevor Ariza, PJ Tucker, James [Harden], [Chris Paul], they brought the best out of me," Durant told ESPN. "They made me dig down deep as a player to figure this s--- out. That's what you want. It might not be against the quote on quote the best player to ever play or the best player in the league all the time. But it's just cool that every opportunity you step on the floor in the playoffs, the farther you go, somebody is going to challenge you.
"So, the next round is going to be LeBron James, somebody I can match up with. Somebody who is going to match up with me and just bring the best out of me. Just like I'll probably bring the best out of him, and we'll see what happens."