Despite holding a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Golden State Warriors had an unlikely stall in the final period, mustering a mere 12 points on 3-of-18 shooting — their worst shooting quarter of the season.
The Warriors went 3-18 from the field in the 4th quarter (16.7%), their worst shooting quarter this season. pic.twitter.com/DvUZVUDcwA
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 23, 2018
With only a slim lead to defend, the Warriors quickly turned to isolation possessions that ultimately backfired, as the Houston Rockets defense clamped down in the final stretch and forced enough stops to secure a 95-92 win to even up the series.
Though it wasn't only the iso-heavy gameplay that bit Golden State down the stretch, but a Draymond Green missed dunk, a Kevin Durant open wing three, a spotlight open wing three from the same spot by Stephen Curry, and a running layup scoop miss by the latter.
The Warriors forced shots against a defense desperate to claw back from a deficit and zealous to keep a lead once they got ahead, while the Warriors couldn't find the ball movement needed to get clean looks at the basket. When they did, the shots simply didn't drop — something that proved costly as the Rockets outscored them 25-12 down the stretch.
Houston did a wonderful job contesting and staying attached, as the Warriors shot seven of their 14 total free-throw attempts in the fourth, but still struggled to see the ball go in.
Both teams shot under 40 percent for the game in a war of attrition that played more to the Rockets' style, now heading back to Houston to protect home court in a pivotal Game 5.