The Houston Rockets bounced back from a Game-1 loss by finding success from multiple contributors in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. James Harden and Eric Gordon had 27 points apiece, as the Houston Rockets evened the series at one with a 127-105 win over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night. The Rockets shot a comfortable 51 percent from the floor and out-rebounded the Warriors, 57-42, as they finished with five players scoring 16 or more points. They led by double digits for a majority of the night and never trailed after the first quarter, all to overcome a 13-point loss on their home floor to open the series. P.J. Tucker added a playoff career-high 22 points, while Trevor Ariza finished with 19 points, as both players overcame a single-digit effort in the Game 1 loss. Kevin Durant stayed hot for the Warriors with 38 points after putting up 37 in Game 1, but this time it wasn't enough. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson struggled, combining for just 24 points after coming together for 46 in Game 1. The Splash Brothers combined to make just 3-of-12 shots from three-point range. The Rockets did not have nearly as much trouble from downtown, as Gordon had six three-pointers off the bench, while Tucker had a playoff best-tying five, and Harden hit three. The series now shifts to Oracle Arena for Game 3 on Sunday night.
Knights Jump Ahead of Jets in Conference Finals
The Las Vegas Golden Knights have responded very nicely to their first series deficit in their postseason career, and just like that, the deficit is no longer. Jonathan Marchessault scored twice on Wednesday night, giving the Golden Knights a 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 3 for a 2-1 series lead. It was the second straight two-goal game for Marchessault, who scored his first of the game just 35 seconds into the first period. The win comes on their home ice at T-Mobile Arena, where the Knights are now 5-1 during this postseason. Marchessault's second goal was of the empty net variety with three seconds left, becoming the first player in NHL history to score a goal in the first and last 60 seconds of a game. Alex Tuch and James Neal both scored for Vegas, who got 33 saves from Marc-Andre Fleury in the win. Mark Scheifele scored both goals for the Jets, which was good to set the NHL record for goals in a single postseason, as he now has 14 in just 15 playoff contests this season. Connor Hellebuyck made 26 saves for the Jets, who suffered a rare road playoff loss, as they had outscored opponents, 23-15, in road games. Teams with a 2-1 series lead have won the Conference Finals 81 percent of the time, which gives the Knights a little more momentum heading in to Game 4 on Friday night.
Verlander Hits Milestone in Shutout Effort
Justin Verlander has amped up his game a good margin since joining the Houston Astros last season, and he did not slow down on Wednesday night. Verlander went the distance, recording his first shutout in three years as the Astros blanked the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, 2-0. Verlander allowed just five hits and struck out seven in his eighth career shutout. Those seven strikeouts included the 2,500th career strikeout for the right-hander when he got Shohei Ohtani swinging in the ninth inning. The shutout for Verlander lowered his season ERA to 1.05, as he lasted at least six innings without giving up a run for the for the fourth time this season. Evan Gattis provided the support with his third home run in the past five games, as that came off of Angels starter Garrett Richards, who fell to 4-2 on the season. The loss for Richards comes despite lasting seven innings and having both runs on the night being unearned. Both Ohtani and Mike Trout went 0-for-4 for the Angels, including Ohtani striking out three times against Verlander. The Astros now hold a two-game lead on the Angels in the AL West after dropping the first game of the series. They will return home this weekend to host the Cleveland Indians. The Angels will stay home to take on the slugging Tampa Bay Rays.