Paul, acquired by the Rockets last offseason to provide the backcourt depth required to challenge the reigning champion Golden State Warriors, departed with 22.4 seconds remaining in Houston's 98-94 win in Game 5 at Toyota Center and sat out Golden State's 115-86 win in Game 6 at Oracle Arena. The Rockets raced to a 17-point lead in the first quarter of Game 6 only to run out of steam without Paul present to alleviate the pressure on fellow guards James Harden and Eric Gordon. I mean, we all thought we were going to win Game 6, right?
Thompson went a combined 20 of 32 from 3-point range in those two impressive Game 6 shows, Saturday and in 2016.
Thompson's performance has allowed the Warriors to force a Game 7 as their hopes of appearing in the NBA Finals for a fourth straight year are still alive. Houston made seven of 11 three-point shots in the first quarter, building a lead as big as 17 points. "The guy's a machine".
Then came one of their trademark third-quarter surges.More news: Confetti falls at start of Game 7 vs. Cavs
Soon, the rout was on. "We've got too much talent not just to hit singles like Coach always says". Add in the fact that we lost our best leader due to injury and we're stuck in a crossroads. "It was sort of a head scratcher". The Warriors will need to be more emphatic than that, for Game 7s have to be taken.
How many foul shots for the NBA's most prolific foul-shooter in the second half?
The Warriors outscored the Rockets 64-25 in the second half, limiting Harden to 10 points after the break. Paul's scoring was even more valuable with Harden's extended three-point shooting struggles.
"I think once we settled down defensively and started staying with people and not making mistakes in transition, then we wore them down a little bit", Kerr said.
The lack of defensive focus that plagued Golden State early was mirrored by the Rockets late. "So nothing changes for us". We know what we have to do. We're still confident. We're a confident group.More news: Liverpool's Loris Karius hard to console after Champions League final - Simon Mignolet
Thompson said the Warriors would be ready.
"Effort, intensity, passion, those three things and playing smart", he said of what it will take to beat the Rockets on their home floor. "I'm going to continue going to the basket, continue to try to finish strong and we'll see what happens".
The victor of the series will take on either the Cleveland Cavaliers or Boston Celtics for the National Basketball Association crown.
Their Eastern Conference final is also tied at three games apiece.More news: Meghan Markle reportedly made her wedding guests cry with a love poem