– Golden State's quest for a repeat championship remains intact.

An awful start was followed by three quarters of utter dominance, spot-on shot-making and beautiful defense — even against one of the game's greatest and hardest players to stop in James Harden.

The ups and downs are still perplexing to coach Steve Kerr.

"I have no clue why our team is like this," Kerr said. "It's kind of what we do."

They might be able to do it all the way to a fourth consecutive NBA Finals.

Klay Thompson knocked down nine nine-pointers on the way to 35 points, and the Warriors held Harden down in the second half as they rallied from an early 17-point deficit to stave off elimination with a 115-86 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.

Deciding Game 7 in the Western Conference finals will be in Houston on Monday.

"I guess you could say I was born for it. Man, that felt good," Thompson said.

Stephen Curry added 29 points and five threes on a night Harden dazzled for long stretches with 32 points, nine assists and seven rebounds while backcourt mate Chris Paul sat out sidelined by a strained right hamstring.

Kevin Durant struggled with his shot going 6-for-17 but still scored 23 points.

The Warriors outscored the Rockets 55-20 in the second half before both coaches subbed their key players with 4:28 left.

A dynamic, star-studded series projected to be as captivating and compelling as the actual NBA Finals is going the distance.

"We just didn't want to go out like that," Thompson said, "we wanted to force Game 7 so badly."

Golden State stymied Harden on consecutive possessions early in the fourth with smothering defense led by Nick Young and several teammates, then Thompson hit a three-pointer from the left wing at 9:40 for an 89-77 lead. And roaring Oracle Arena went crazy with hopes of even more home games to come if Golden State can get to a fourth consecutive finals.

Thompson came through with his best performance of these playoffs with the season on the line, just as he did in Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference finals at Oklahoma City when he had 41 points against Durant and the Thunder to force Game 7.

"I thought Klay was amazing tonight, not just the 35 points and the nine nines but his defense," Kerr said. "The guy's a machine. He's just so fit physically. He seems to thrive in these situations."

Thompson went a combined 20 of 32 from three-point range in those two Game 6s.

The Warriors used a strong third quarters to take an 84-77 lead.