Rally is a state of mind as houston rockets secure game 4 win over golden state warriors in oracle arena nba electricity 101

Fifteen minutes had passed since the Rockets had rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the defending champion Golden State Warriors 95-92 to even the Western Conference finals at 2-2. Morey’s face looked pale. His cheeks were flush. Thoughts and words were hard to string together after such an intense game.

Instead, Chris Paul, the point guard who’d come to Houston with the hopes of vanquishing his playoff demons, rallied his team in the fourth quarter to save the Rockets’ season. He scored eight of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, shrugging off a painful right foot injury that has hampered his mobility all series.

Golden State led 80-70 after a 34-point third quarter. Stephen Curry had another 17-point explosion and it seemed as if the Warriors were about to coast to a commanding 3-1 series lead. The defending champions had won an NBA record 16 straight playoff games at home. They had won 39 of the 40 games this season in which they led by 10 or more points entering the fourth quarter.

Houston didn’t just add Paul in the offseason, it added stout defensive players like PJ Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute. This science experiment of putting two future Hall of Fame point guards together in the same backcourt wasn’t just about offensive potency, it was about building a defense that could match the Warriors’ four All-Stars by switching everything and negating Golden State‘s deadly pick-and-roll game.

"That was the last piece for us to get over the hump and becoming one of the best teams in the league. How we defend, how we pay attention to detail and how we go about playing defense," Rockets swingman Trevor Ariza said. "Tonight in the fourth quarter when it mattered, we got stops. It let us get back in the game, it let us take the lead and it let us win."

Ariza, the only player in Houston’s locker room with a championship ring (with the 2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers), has asked to guard Kevin Durant this series. That’s kind of like trying to put the cap back on a soda bottle once it has been shaken up. Durant is going to score no matter who is on him. But what Ariza and the Rockets were able to do Tuesday was limit the damage he inflicted by forcing the former MVP into isolation plays and contesting his shots. Durant had 27 points on just 9-for-24 shooting, and needed eight free throws to get that many.

In the decisive fourth quarter, Durant hit just one of his five shots and passed up a shot to feed Klay Thompson in the corner on a key possession with the Warriors down by two in the game’s final seconds. Thompson ended up missing a 16-foot fadeaway with 0.5 seconds left after a chaotic sequence in which Draymond Green tried to call a timeout but failed to get the referee’s attention.

Who else but Paul got the rebound? After a Shaun Livingston foul and Paul going 1-of-2 from the line, the Warriors got one final look. Curry missed a 3-pointer from the left corner, which wouldn’t have counted anyway because the shot wasn’t released before the final buzzer. The two-time MVP was just 1-for-8 in the fourth quarter.

As Paul said, "It’s a state of mind. We grind all summer long, all season long, for these moments. So we push each other out of those timeouts. Like, ‘JH, you’re not tired.’ ‘TA, you’re not tired.’ Mental toughness is just as important as physical toughness and I think guys on our team showed that tonight."