HOUSTON (AP) — After fighting through a terrible chest cold for the last few days, James Harden finally felt like himself on Sunday night.
“I can finally breathe,” Harden said.
And the Houston Rockets can, too, after his performance helped them rebound from consecutive losses to beat the San Antonio Spurs 125-104 and tie the Western Conference semifinal at 2-2.
Harden scored 28 points and Eric Gordon added 22 as the Rockets never trailed and used hot 3-point shooting to pull away in the third quarter.
“I think our energy was just up no matter what,” Harden said. “They went on runs. They cut the deficit down … but no matter, what we just stayed with it.”
Game 5 is Tuesday night in San Antonio.
Jonathon Simmons had 17 points for the Spurs, and Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge added 16 apiece.
Houston made 22 3-pointers in a blowout win in Game 1, but had struggled from long-range in its two losses. The Rockets’ 3-point shooting, a hallmark of their success in the regular season, got back on track Sunday when they made 19 of 43, led by six from Gordon.
The Rockets led by 15 entering the fourth quarter and immediately padded the lead when Gordon made a 3-pointer to open the period. Simmons made a 3 on the other end before Gordon struck again with his sixth 3-pointer to leave the Rockets up 97-79.
The Spurs were unable to cut into the lead after that and both teams had mostly backups on the court by the midpoint of the period with the game out of hand.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich pointed to one big reason to explain why his team struggled Sunday night.
“Our bible begins with transition defense, and if it’s…