Stephen Curry tallied 34 points, six rebounds and five assists as the Golden State Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets 110-106 to take the early lead in their NBA playoff series.

The Warriors are known more for their offensive prowess but Tuesday they shut down the Rockets with some timely defense to go ahead 1-0 in the best-of-seven showdown between the top two teams in the Western Conference.

Shaun Livingston scored 16 of his playoff career-high 18 points in the first half for Golden State, who are in their first conference finals since the mid-1970s.

“I was just trying to bring energy off the bench. Our bench has been good all year,” Livingston said. “We rely on our depth. Again, I just tried to come in and do my part.”

Draymond Green finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in the win.

Game two will be on Thursday.

The matchup everyone was waiting to see was league MVP Curry against Rockets star James Harden, who was runner-up in the voting.

Harden was up to the task, scoring 28 points and getting 11 rebounds and nine assists.

“It’s entertaining basketball but we’re both supposed to help our team win and do what we can to impact the win,” Curry said of the matchup with Harden. “Hopefully we have a big impact and that’s what we’re supposed to do.”

Houston hasn’t been to the conference finals since 1997.

“We’ve done a great job of letting things go. It’s all about game two now,” Harden said of the difficult task ahead.

Trevor Ariza had 20 points and Josh Smith chipped in 17 points and seven rebounds for the Rockets, who have lost six straight contests to the Warriors.

Houston’s Dwight Howard was hobbled by a sore knee and finished with a disappointing seven points.

Howard at one point went to the locker room to get checked by the team trainers. He later returned to the lineup but wasn’t his usual self. – Agence France-Presse

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