The Houston Rockets appeared to be in very good shape early in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s Game 6 against the Golden State Warriors. Houston had a 99-92 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining. Golden State star Kevin Durant wasn’t playing due to a calf injury suffered in Game 5. It was a must-win game for the Rockets, at home, so you had to figure the crowd and season-on-the-line desperation would give Houston a boost.

Instead, Steph Curry happened.

After going scoreless in the first half (his first scoreless first half since November 2012), Curry dropped a ridiculous 33 points on Houston in the second half to lead Golden State to a 118-113 series-clinching victory.

23 of Curry’s points came in the fourth quarter, and 16 of the points came in the game’s final five minutes.

It was vintage Curry, with some of the shots being high-difficult buckets off the dribble that he’s better at than anybody on the planet, like this absurd three-pointer in the final minute and a half:

Klay Thompson was also terrific, scoring 27 points and making 7-of-13 three-point attempts, including this dagger:

Without Durant, the Warriors badly needed their star backcourt players to step up, and Curry and Thompson certainly did that.

It’s the Warriors’ fifth straight consecutive Western Conference Finals appearance, and — with or without Durant — they’ll be favored to beat the winner of the Blazers-Nuggets series to make it five straight trips to the NBA Finals.

As for the Rockets, this is an absolutely devastating loss that goes beyond just having a season end. They were given a, well, golden chance to finally take down Golden State: Durant was out for the rest of the series, they had a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter Friday night, every game of this series was within six points and they had to feel like they would have a chance to win on the road in Game 7 (especially with Durant out), etc.

If the Rockets couldn’t get it done now, after they couldn’t get it done last year with what was viewed as even a better team, it’s hard to imagine this James Harden-led core ever getting past the Warriors.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at mclapp@thecomeback.com.