Rockets Rock Spurs 125-104 to Even Series at 2 as James Harden Scores 28

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2017

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 7: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball during the game against Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2017 Playoffs on May 7, 2017 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

James Harden helped the Houston Rockets even the Western Conference Semifinals with a 125-104 Game 4 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

The Beard finished with 28 points, 12 assists and five rebounds Sunday, creating a 2-2 tie in the back-and-forth second-round matchup.  

While Harden took on a facilitating role like he did in Game 1, he still showed he can score:

This was one of 19 made three-pointers on 43 attempts in an offensive barrage for Houston.

On the other side, Kawhi Leonard was held to just 16 points in his lowest-scoring effort of the playoffs. LaMarcus Aldridge also had 16, although neither star spent much time on the floor in the fourth quarter.

The result was the fourth game decided by double digits this series, the third with a margin of 20 or more.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News summed up the second-round battle:

The Rockets appeared to have more energy from the opening tip and it carried through to a meaningful first basket, as Bleacher Report noted:

Patrick Beverley was understandably emotional and responded with 10 points and six assists.

As Sam Amick of USA Today noted, the energy led to some early success for Houston:

The Spurs fought back quickly, though, and cut the score to 57-53 at halftime. Unsurprisingly, the two best players in the game had a major impact in the first half:

Still, this was Houston's night as the team used its hot shooting from the outside to pull away in the second half. The squad built a 15-point lead at the end of the third quarter behind this buzzer-beater by Ryan Anderson:

The biggest factor keeping the Spurs in the game was the surprise play of Jonathon Simmons. The reserve guard continued his strong series with 17 points off the bench Sunday.

But the Rockets kept the pressure on and closed out the 21-point win.

Houston lost Nene Hilario early in the game to a groin injury, which could be devastating for the interior depth if he is forced to miss more time. Fortunately, the other key bench players stepped up in his absence.

Eric Gordon scored 22 points on 6-of-9 from three-point range while Lou Williams added 13.

The Spurs will now try to bounce back in Game 5, set for Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET.

While two of the final three games will be in San Antonio, the Rockets will have plenty of confidence after their 27-point victory there in Game 1. Based on the way the series has gone, neither team has a clear advantage going forward.

Related

    Kawhi Is the Calm in the Clippers' Storm

    Leonard's performance in Miami displayed him as the constant force for LAC through the noise

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Kawhi Is the Calm in the Clippers' Storm

    Andy Bailey
    via Bleacher Report

    Kawhi Shuts Down Clippers Chemistry Rumors

    LAC star after getting his first triple-double: 'They don't know what's going on in the huddle'

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Kawhi Shuts Down Clippers Chemistry Rumors

    Tim Daniels
    via Bleacher Report

    Spoelstra: 'It's a Joke' Jimmy Butler Isn't Starting in All-Star Game

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Spoelstra: 'It's a Joke' Jimmy Butler Isn't Starting in All-Star Game

    Tim Daniels
    via Bleacher Report

    Russ Taking on Leadership Role in Locker Room

    Houston Rockets logo
    Houston Rockets

    Russ Taking on Leadership Role in Locker Room

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report