Coach Kevin McHale told him the best thing to do was take that frustration out on the other team.
Harden did just that, scoring a playoff career-high 45 points as the Rockets led from start to finish to avoid elimination in the Western Conference finals with a 128-115 victory over the Warriors on Monday night.
The Rockets had a big lead after tying a playoff record with 45 points in the first quarter before Stephen Curry landed on his head in a nasty spill midway through the second and missed about 12 minutes.
Curry said he went through the concussion protocol before returning.
His first field goal after returning came on a 3-pointer that got Golden State within six points with less than 8 1/2 minutes remaining. But Harden, who had 17 points in the fourth quarter, scored the next seven as part of 10 straight by Houston to push the lead to 114-98.
Klay Thompson had 24 points and Curry added 23 for Golden State, which moved a win away from its first trip to the NBA Finals since 1975 after routing Houston 115-80 on Saturday night to take a 3-0 lead.
But the Warriors couldn’t put the Rockets away and will try again at home in Game 5 on Wednesday night.
Houston bounced back from a 3-1 deficit to the Clippers in the conference semifinals. But they face a much bigger challenge in this series, as no team in NBA history has won a playoff series after trailing 3-0.
Dwight Howard had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and received a flagrant 1 foul early in the third quarter after throwing an elbow at Andrew Bogut’s head. He would be suspended by accumulation of flagrant foul points if the NBA upgrades it to a flagrant 2 after review.
Curry was injured after he jumped in the air as Trevor Ariza was about to go up for a shot. Ariza saw him and stopped abruptly, causing Curry to be upended in midair when he crashed into Ariza’s shoulder. His head hit the court and it propelled him up and back onto the floor, where he remained for several minutes.
Thompson picked up the slack with Curry out, hitting four 3-pointers in a 23-9 run that get the Warriors within 66-59 with about 30 seconds left in the first half. But Jason Terry hit a 3 as the shot clock expired to put Houston up 69-59 at halftime.
The Rockets jumped out to a 12-0 lead thanks to eight points by Josh Smith and five straight missed shots by the Warriors to start the game. Smith’s hot shooting continued throughout the quarter and he made all five shots, including three 3-pointers, he attempted in the period.
The Rockets made 17 of 22 shots overall in the quarter and were an astounding 8 of 9 from 3-point range to lead 45-22 entering the second. Houston’s 45 points tied a franchise record for points in a quarter in the playoffs that had stood since 1980.
Houston Rockets 128 beat Golden State Warriors 115
28th May, 2015. Houston Rockets v/s Golden State Warriors