HOUSTON - Heading into Houston up 2-0, a large fraction of NBA observers expected the Warriors to win the Western Conference Semifinals matchup against the Houston Rockets in under five games.
In Game 4 of their NBA playoff series, the Rockets did away with any notion of easy Golden State victory, beating the champs 112-108 Monday night.
James Harden led all scorers with 38 points, adding 10 rebounds as the Rockets outhustled, outrebounded and outplayed the Warriors for much of the game.
With the loss, the Warriors will travel back to Oakland Tuesday morning with the series tied 2-2, guaranteeing a trip back to Houston for Game 6 Friday night.
For now, here are the takeaways from Game 4.
In the second consecutive game, the Warriors failed to show up in the second quarter, getting outscored 36-26 in the frame. Golden State shot just 45 percent in the period, as James Harden scored 13 of his game-high 38 points.
It was the second straight game the Warriors lost a game in the second quarter. Two nights ago, they were outscored 33-23 in the second quarter of Game 2 in a game they lost by five.
Throughout the season, the Warriors have been prone to mental lapses, particularly in important games. If the trend continues, the Warriors could be facing an early exit.
Ice cold from beyond the arc
Usually, the Warriors' 3-point shooting helps them overcome otherwise subpar performances. On Monday, the lack of 3-point makes was their downfall, as Golden State shot just 8-of-33 from beyond the arc.
Golden State's worst 3-point outputs came from the Splash Brother duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who finished a combined 5-of-20 from 3-point range, including a missed trey from Curry in the final seconds that would've tied the game.
It's usually a safe bet that the Warriors will deliver from beyond the arc. With the series shifting back to Oakland, the Warriors will need to find their shot again.
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Rebound conundrum continues
On Sunday, Warriors coach Steve Kerr lamented his team's rebounding effort in Game 3. A day later, Golden State failed to take heed to the message.
In Game 4, Houston outrebounded the champs 50-43, including a game-high 10 from Harden and five offensive rebounds from Rockets forward PJ Tucker. The performance was a carbon copy of Golden State's effort in Game 3, when they were outrebounded 55-35.