Warriors Nip Rockets 99-98

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James Harden had Game 2 on his fingertips — and then he didn’t.

Now the Golden State Warriors have the Western Conference finals in their grasp.

BOX SCORE: WARRIORS 99, ROCKETS 98

Stephen Curry scored 33 points before Harden lost the ball in the closing seconds to end a spectacular duel between the NBA MVP and runner-up, and the Warriors held off the Houston Rockets 99-98 on Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

“Sometimes I want to crack open a beer and get a courtside seat. These two guys are the two best basketball players in the world,” Warriors center Andrew Bogut said.

Harden rallied the Rockets from 17 points down in the second quarter and had a chance to finish off the comeback in the fourth. Instead, Klay Thompson harassed him and Curry came over to trap Harden, who lost the ball as time expired.

Harden fell to the floor and put his hands over his head as the Warriors celebrated on the court, the sellout crowd of 19,596 roared, and golden-yellow confetti fell from the rafters.

“Kicking chairs,” Harden said. “It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating to give the game away like that.”

Harden had 38 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and Dwight Howard overcame a sprained left knee that slowed him down to finish with 19 points and 17 rebounds for a Rockets team headed home in a major hole.

Game 3 is Saturday in Houston.

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