Rockets outlast Warriors 98-94, edge closer to NBA Finals

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Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets goes up against Quinn Cook #4 of the Golden State Warriors in the fourth quarter of Game Five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on May 24, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Bob Levey/Getty Images/AFP)
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Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors shoots against PJ Tucker #4 of the Houston Rockets in the second half of Game Five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on May 24, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Bob Levey/Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 25 May 2018
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Rockets outlast Warriors 98-94, edge closer to NBA Finals

  • The Rockets head into Game 6 on Saturday night in Oakland one win away from knocking off the defending champions and advancing to the NBA Finals.
  • After Game 6 on Saturday, the Rockets would host Game 7 on Monday if necessary.

HOUSTON, Texas: Eric Gordon came off the bench to score 24 points and his steal on Golden State’s last possession secured a 98-94 victory Thursday night that gave the Houston Rockets a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.
The Rockets head into Game 6 on Saturday night in Oakland one win away from knocking off the defending champions and advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time since winning back-to-back titles in 1994-95.
Chris Paul scored 20 points and James Harden struggled for his 19, but Paul had to leave the game in the final minute with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
Kevin Durant scored 29 points for the Warriors, who lost in Game 5 of a playoff series for just the second time since 2015.
The Rockets won a second straight defensive struggle between the two potent offenses, leaving the Warriors a loss from missing the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014.
“We had to rely on our defense once again,” Harden said. “Game 4, we weren’t making shots but defensively we were really good. Same thing tonight.”
Draymond Green made a 3-pointer with just over minute left to get Golden State within one. Harden, who was 0 for 11 on 3s, missed his last one with less than 30 seconds left, giving the Warriors the ball back.
Stephen Curry missed a floater and Trevor Ariza grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 10 seconds left. But he made just one of two free throws to give the Warriors another chance.
But Gordon came up with his steal when Green lost control in the lane and added two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to put it away.
Klay Thompson shook off a knee injury that had his status for this game in question to score 23 points and Curry added 22. A bruised left knee kept Andre Iguodala out for the second straight game, and Kevon Looney started in his place.
After losing Game 1 of the series, the Rockets made the best of home-court advantage this time, thrilling a sellout crowd that included Justin Timberlake, Houston Texans star J.J. Watt and rapper Travis Scott.
It’s Houston’s second straight win in the series after snapping Golden State’s NBA playoff-record, 16-game home winning streak with a 95-92 victory on Tuesday night.
Golden State led by one to start the fourth before Paul got going, scoring seven points to power a 10-5 run that gave the Rockets an 81-77 lead with about 9 1/2 minutes left.
Thompson made a 3-pointer after that and then officials reviewed Paul’s first basket of the quarter and ruled he got it off after the shot clock expired, leaving the Warriors ahead 80-79.
The Rockets were clinging to a one-point lead with about seven minutes left when Durant fouled Gordon on a 3-point attempt, losing one of his shoes in the process. Gordon made all three free throws to start a 7-2 spurt that extended the lead to 88-82 midway through the quarter.
The Rockets honored the 10 people killed in last week’s school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, before the game, with the school’s choir singing the national anthem and team owner Tilman Fertitta wearing a “Santa Fe Strong” T-shirt, before Houston scored the game’s first six points in a first half where the team led by as many as 11.

TIP-INS
Warriors: Coach Steve Kerr was unsure Thursday if Iguodala would be able to return for Game 6. “He’s dying to play, but he’s not healthy enough,” Kerr said. “We’ll just continue to take it day to day..”.. Curry made four free throws to tie Rick Barry for most free throws made in the playoffs in franchise history with 378. ... Golden State had 18 turnovers.
Rockets: Clint Capela had 12 points and 14 rebounds for his seventh double-double this postseason. ... Houston made 13 of 43 3-pointers, led by four from Gordon.

UP NEXT
After Game 6 on Saturday, the Rockets would host Game 7 on Monday if necessary.


Iraq coach Katanec looking for performances over results in Saudi friendly

Updated 14 October 2018
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Iraq coach Katanec looking for performances over results in Saudi friendly

  • On Friday, Iraq were heavily defeated by Argentina, 4-0
  • Iraq coach Srecko Katanec has emphasised the importance of his team’s performance in Monday’s friendly against Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Iraq coach Srecko Katanec has emphasised the importance of his team’s performance in Monday’s friendly against Saudi Arabia as he seeks to build ahead of next year’s Asian Cup in the UAE and the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“Really, I don’t care about the results,” Katanec told Arab News. “What will be, will be. I hope that I will see good things from our players — personality and nothing more. I will just ask the players to give all that they have. Nothing more, nothing less. If you want to show too much in a game, that behavior can be a problem also.”
On Friday, Iraq were heavily defeated by Argentina, 4-0. Katanec fielded a reinforced five-men defense, but to little avail as Lautaro Martinez, Roberto Pereyra, German Pezzella and Franco Cervi all got on the scoreboard. “To prepare a friendly match with two training sessions… with players that I don’t quite know — how they are, how their behavior is and all these things, that’s difficult but anyway we are here, that is our job,” said Katanec
Ali Adnan from Atlanta in Italy and Justin Meram from Columbus Crew in the US started against Argentina, but the new Iraq coach may ring the changes against Saudi Arabia, a team he rates highly.
“I will give a chance to all the players who are now with us,” said Katanec. “I hope that we will be at a very good level. Saudi Arabia is a good team, a 100 percent. If they participated in the World Cup, they deserved it. They also played quite good football in Russia, even in the first game: a part of the first game, but the following two matches they were very solid. I know, in this region you have good players. Saudi Arabia have invested a lot of money in football and that’s important. So, big respect for them. They can show, if they can, that they are better than us, but we will also try to do our best.”
In September the Slovenian was appointed coach of Iraq, succeeding Basim Qasim.
Katanec enjoys a wealth of experience in the international game, having guided his native Slovenia to the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea. He also coached the United Arab Emirates from 2009 and 2011, but his 2011 Asian Cup campaign ended in disappointment as his team failed to register a single point in a group with Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
The 55-year-old considers the friendly against the Green Falcons a part of the learning curve for Iraq as they look toward the 2019 Asian Cup and the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup. In November, Iraq have confirmed a friendly against Jordan in preparation for the continental tournament where they will face Iran, Vietnam and Yemen in group D.
“These friendly games are very important in that I will know what to do before the Asian Cup,” explained Katanec. “We need information: how the players are, what their condition is like at this moment. You know, the media at all times want to put some pressure on all of us, but until now I am very satisfied with how the team works.”