Warriors-rockets tonight may the ‘force’ be with … whom gas block install


Game 1: After a 56-56 tie through the first 24 minutes, the Warriors used a typically strong third quarter to take out the Rockets 119-106 and snatch homecourt advantage in the series opener. Golden State used a 27-14 run in the third to take an 85-72 lead and was never seriously threatened after that. Kevin Durant had 37 points and Klay Thompson 28. James Harden scored 41 for the Rockets. Want Warriors news in your inbox? Sign up for the free DubsDaily newsletter.

Game 2: After having its offense bog down in Game 1 because of too much isolation, Houston opened things up and unleashed other aspects of its offense while rolling to a 127-105 victory. Harden and Eric Gordon led the way with 27 points each, but they were aided by big games from P.J. Tucker (22 points with five 3-pointers) and Trevor Ariza (19 points while staying out of foul trouble). Tucker and Ariza combined to shoot 15 for 18 from the field, including 6 for 9 from long range (and, yes, that means they were 9 for 9 on 2-pointers). Durant scored 38 points but had five turnovers. REMAINING SERIES SCHEDULE

No, Obi-Wan Kenobi is not coaching either of these teams, but the Warriors’ Steve Kerr and the Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni keep talking about “force” in this series. “Force” seems to be the fashionable catchphrase, as in one team played with more force or brought more force. It seems teams don’t “impose their will” on opponents any more. LACK OF FOCUS

It doesn’t seem to matter how big the game or how deep they are into the playoffs, but the Warriors have that uncanny ability to lose their focus and intensity no matter how important the situation. It usually shows up in the form of turnovers and lax defense. That’s what happened in Game 2 at Houston, when the Warriors took their foot off the gas after taking away homecourt advantage in Game 1. The old adage in a playoff series is that the road team wants to get a split in the first two games. But does that mean the goal can’t change after winning Game 1?

For those who believe that Houston completely changed its offense to something new and different for Game 2, well, you haven’t been watching the Rockets this season. The faster pace, ball movement, drive-and-kicks for open 3-pointers, fast breaks — and the isolation plays for Harden and Chris Paul — were elements of Houston’s balanced attack all season. The steady diet of isolation plays in Game 1, when Harden and Paul took too many Rockets possessions deep into the shot clock, was the aberration. In Game 2, we saw the full scope of the Rockets’ firepower. INTERESTING BATTLE

Now that we’ve seen the Rockets’ offense at its best, albeit against a subpar Warriors defense in Game 2, maybe we will see both teams bring it tonight in Game 3. If the Warriors set their mind to playing their usual defense, will it be enough against the Rockets’ wide-open offense? GIVING THE GAME AWAY

Turnovers played a big role in the Warriors’ Game 2 defeat. Besides derailing Golden State’s offense, they fueled the Rockets — especially those five early turnovers and seven in the first quarter. And that was coming off a total of nine turnovers in Game 1. The early sloppiness set the tone as the Warriors wound up giving up 15 points on 15 turnovers for the night. MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Ariza stayed out of foul trouble and had a good game. Besides hitting his own shot (7 for 9 from the field) on his way to 19 points, Ariza was also one of the Rockets’ most effective drive-and-kick guys, collecting six assists. By the way, partial blame for Ariza’s foul trouble in Game 1 goes to D’Antoni. After Ariza drew his fourth foul with 10:04 left in the third quarter of that game and the Warriors leading only 61-60, D’Antoni left Ariza on the floor. Only 29 seconds later, Ariza picked up foul No. 5. By the time Ariza returned for the start of the fourth quarter, the Rockets were down by seven. For complete Warriors coverage

The Rockets have done a better job than most opponents when it comes to making Stephen Curry play defense. Knowing that the Warriors switch everything when confronted with screens, Houston has done a good job of screening and getting Curry switched onto Harden or Paul. That forces Curry to have to defend a premier offensive player one-on-one. Even though he is the Warriors’ weakest defender among the starters, Curry has done a commendable job under the circumstances. He’s not stopping Harden and Paul, but he hasn’t been a sieve, either. But is the energy that Curry expends on defense taking away from this offensive game? So far in this series, Curry is averaging 17.0 points on 15-for-34 shooting (44.1 percent) and is only 2 for 13 (15.4 percent) on 3-pointers. AN APT COMPARISON

The Rockets pretty much made Klay Thompson disappear in Game 2. In Game 1, he scored 28 points and attempted 15 3-pointers — many of them while wide open. On Wednesday night, Thompson didn’t have nearly as much room to operate and was held to eight points on 3-for-11 shooting overall and 2 for 4 on 3-pointers. HOMECOURT ADVANTAGE

The Warriors have won 14 consecutive home playoff games. That’s one short of the NBA record of 15 set by the Chicago Bulls from April 27, 1990 to May 21, 1991. Golden State’s last postseason loss at Oracle Arena was particularly painful: Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals against Cleveland. LOOKING AHEAD

The winner of this series will advance to the NBA finals against the winner of the Eastern Conference finals between No. 2 Boston and No. 4 Cleveland. In Game 3 on Saturday night, the Cavaliers got their first win of the series, 116-86 to cut Boston’s lead to 2-1. LeBron James had 27 points and 12 assists to lead six Cavaliers in double figures. Game 4 is Monday in Cleveland (5:30 p.m., ESPN).