Kevin Durant was there to match Harden shot for shot, his greatness on full display in scoring 37 points despite sometimes being overshadowed by the Warriors' brand of basketball.
Trevor Ariza was limited by foul trouble all game, picking up his fifth with 9:35 to play in the third quarter. It might also be a problem for Houston that Green had maybe his best playoff series ever last round and Thompson is making threes at a career-high rate.
Instead of a seven-point deficit with the ball, Houston trailed by 10 and the remaining air left the building. The Warriors went on to win Game 1, 119-106. They had to face a red-hot Kevin Durant.
"They took the challenge and played awfully well", Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. He hit nine of those shots, often with a defender draped all over him. The Warriors could turn around and win Game 2, but the Rockets would at least return to Houston for Game 5 knowing they could beat the Warriors there.
Insane enough, Durant only had three rebounds, one assist and a block. He failed to score, shot 0 of six from the field and registered a minus-14 for the game in 17 minutes of action. Harden's shotmaking was incredible.
And when it wasn't Looney, it was usually Stephen Curry.
"You know they are going to come out with a lot of energy", Durant said. Looney was game, but Harden victimized him several times. Then again, Golden State could have the advantage because they have two assassins in Curry and Durant, but oh wait, Houston also has two assassins in Harden and Paul.
Harden needs more help from the other guys, but it may not matter.
Rockets: Paul added 23 points and 11 rebounds. We had all been waiting for Game 1 of the Western Conference final series for months, and it was every bit as riveting as we had hoped.
P.J. Tucker followed up a 19-point effort in the series finale against Utah with a single-point. Gerald Green's defense was torched, while Ryan Anderson and Nene were non-factors. And to get this game against this team in their building. That changed when they signed Durant, with whom they've gone 24-3 in the playoffs.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Harden scored 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting off isolations.