With Stephen Curry (ankle) missing his second-straight game, the Houston Rockets knew Game 3 would be the perfect opportunity toget back into their NBA Playoff series against the Golden State Warriors. Thanks to James Harden, the Rocketswere able to take advantage of the MVP's absence to boost their confidence heading into Sunday's key Game 4 matchup.

Harden displayed triple-double type numbers (35 points to go along with eight rebounds and nine assists) on Thursday to lead the Rockets to a 97-96 victory over the Warriors to cut the series lead to 2-1. Obviously, this outcome could have easily been much different with Curry in the lineup for Golden State, but give Houston credit for proving they have what it takes to make this a series.

Harden's MVP Performance

Even though he has a history of slacking on defense, there's one positive about having Harden that's difficult to ignore -- which would be his dominance on offense. Houston's offense has always run through Harden ever since he joined the team in 2012 and Game 3 was no different as he led all scorers on 11-of-26 shooting -- including the game-winning shot with two seconds left.

If the Rockets are going to have any shot at making this series even at 2-2, Harden is going to need to display another dominant offensive performance on Sunday. Nobody was giving Houston much of a shot in this series, but anything seems possible moving forward if Harden can continue playing at an MVP level.

Donatas Motiejunas' surprise impact

Of all of the players on the Rockets to come up big in Game 3, who would have thought Donatas Motiejunas would be the surprise hero? For a player with just 15 points and five rebounds combined over the first two games, Motiejunas came up huge for Houston in Game 3 after scoring 14 points to go along with 13 rebounds in 31 minutes.

Motiejunas has been one of the most inconsistent players for the Rockets all season, but Thursday's game was the perfect example of what the big man is capable of doing. Whether or not Houston can continue to make this a series will clearly fall on Harden, but it will be interesting to see if Motiejunas can turn into a major X-Factor for the remainder of the series.

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