Steph-less Warriors Blown Out by Houston Rockets, Lose 107-86.
After a win over the Atlanta Hawks and several days of drama and controversy, the Golden State Warriors (12-3) began their “Texas Triangle” roadtrip against the Houston Rockets (6-7). This was the first matchup between these two Western Conference Finals adversaries and the Rockets were out for revenge. While the Rockets wanted revenge, the Warriors were trying to keep winning and put all their issues behind them. Stephen Curry made the trip with the team, but would not be playing for at least another nine days. This game was primed to be an exciting one, and when it was all said and done the Houston Rockets won 107-86.
Kevin Durant got the first quarter started with a jumper from the free throw line that beat the shot-clock buzzer, and the KD-Draymond connection came through on the next possession as Draymond dished to KD on a fastbreak for a powerful dunk. Klay Thompson kept the Warriors run going with a reverse layup. The 6-0 Warriors run was ended by James Harden, who went 1/2 for the Rockets first points of the night, and Klay Thompson answered back with a step-back midrange jumper. Chris Paul hit a three, and PJ Tucker got a driving hookshot to fall to cut the lead to two points. The Warriors called timeout after several empty possession with 6:54 left in the quarter. When the timeout was called, the Warriors had a 8-6 lead. Kevin Durant got the scoring started with a technical free throw, and he threw down a dunk on the next possession to get the lead to five points. Clint Capela got the Rockets going again with a hook shot from the post, and Kevon Looney answered back with two free throws. Jonas Jerebko threw down a dunk in transition to stretch the lead to six points, but James Harden answered with his trademark free throws. Eric Gordon nailed his first three of the night, and James Harden nailed his first three on the next possession to give the Rockets a lead. The Warriors called timeout to try and cool off the Rockets after their 8-0 run. When timeout was called with 2:39 to play, the Rockets had a 16-15 lead. Jerebko nailed a mid range jumper out of the timeout but Eric Gordon nailed a deep three in response. Isaiah Hartenstein got a tough and-1 layup to fall for the Rockets, and they now had a five-point lead. Kevon Looney threw down a dunk on the next possession, but Chris Paul nailed a three to give the Rockets a six-point lead after the first quarter. Kevin Durant led the Warriors in scoring with seven points on 3/8 shooting while Chris Paul, James Harden, and Eric Gordon all had six points for the Rockets. The Rockets also took 12 threes while the Warriors took only four. After the first quarter, the Rockets led the Warriors 25-19.
It took over two minutes for either team to score in the second quarter, but Eric Gordon got it started with a thunderous dunk on a fastbreak, but Shaun Livingston answer back with a tough layup. Jonas Jerebko got a layup on the next possession after Klay Thompson blocked a Clint Capela dunk. Quinn Cook nailed a midrange jumper, but James Ennis III threw down a dunk to get the lead back to four. James Harden got a finger-roll layup to fall, and the Rockets took a timeout after not being able to get their defense set up. The timeout was called with 7:16 left in the half and the Rockets leading 31-25. Chris Paul got a layup to fall to get the scoring started again, and Clint Capela knocked down two free throws to get their lead to nine points. Kevin Durant got the Warriors back on the board with a deep two, but Eric Cordon nailed two free throws and the lead was 10. Clint Capela threw down a dunk, and Jacob Evans III made his first three of the night, the first of his career, and the first one of the night for the Warriors. James Harden got a layup to fall in response, and Andre Iguodala made a free throw. The Warriors called timeout with 2:47 to play in the half and the Rockets leading 47-37. Andre Iguodala threw down a dunk out of the timeout to get the scoring started again, and KD knocked down two free throws to get the lead down to six points. Klay Thompson knocked down a fadeaway jumper from the baseline and the lead was down to four. PJ Tucker went 1/2 from the line to get the Rockets going again, but Kevin Durant made two more free throws to get the lead down to three. James Harden got a layup to fall before nailing a deep stepback three, but Kevon Looney got the last shot of the half to fall with a bucket after an offensive rebound. When the halftime buzzer sounded, the Rockets led the Warriors 47-41.
Kevin Durant led the Warriors in scoring with 13 points on 4/10 shooting, and he also had three rebounds. Jonas Jerebko, Klay Thompson, and Kevon Looney all had six points each. Clearly points weren’t coming easy for the Warriors, who were shooting 43.2% (16/37) from the floor and 14.3% (1/7) from three. The Rockets were led by James Harden, who had 15 points on 5/16 shooting (2/9 from three). Eric Gordon had 10 points and Chris Paul had eight of his own. The Rockets were actually shooting worse than the Warriors at 36.4% (16/44) from the floor and 31.9% (6/19) from three. The clear difference in this game was the Rockets willingness to take threes, whereas the Warriors were committed to playing basketball the same way Bill Russell's Celtics played.
James Harden nailed a three to get the third quarter started, and James Ennis got a lyup to fall on their next possession. Kevin Durant got the Warriors going with a mid range jumper, but Clint Capela threw down a lob in response. Kevin Durant nailed an elbow jumper, and Chris Paul made a step-back jumper in the mid range to push the Rockets’ lead to 11. After several minutes of neither team scoring, James Harden did his signature dribble-dribble-dribble-drive-draw foul move and the Warriors called timeout with 6:51 left in the quarter with the Rockets leading 56-45. Prior to the timeout, the Warriors couldn’t do anything on offense and looked just absolutely disjointed without Stephen Curry. Harden made both his free throws coming out of the timeout, and Kevon Looney got an incredibly tough and-1 layup to fall to get the Warriors going. James Harden got a finger-roll layup to fall and push the lead to 13 points, and he banked in a three on the next possession. Klay got a cutting layup to fall, but Clint Capela made two free throws. Kevon Looney got a tough shot to fall at the rim, Andre Iguodala hit a layup, and Jonas Jerebko hit two free throws to get the lead back down to 10 points. Gary Clark hit a three, and KD hit two free throws in response. Timeout was called with 2:57 left and the Rockets leading 68-57. James Harden made two free throws after the timeout and Kevon Looney answered back with a tip-in on the other end. Gary Clark hit a three, and then he hit another one. Kevin Durant hit a technical free throw which Quinn Cook followed up with the second three of the game for the Warriors with 15 seconds left in the third quarter. Kevin Durant led the Warriors in scoring with 20 points on 6/15 shooting, and Kevon Looney was second 12 points on 5/6 shooting. The Warriors were shooting a combined 42.1% (24/57) from the floor and 16.7% (2/12) from three. The Rockets were led by James Harden with 27 points on 8/21 shooting. Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, and Clint Capela all had 10 points each. The Rockets shot a combined 39.7% (25/63) from the floor and 34.4% (11/32) from three. After the third quarter the Rockets had a 76-63 lead.
Klay Thompson got a layup to fall to open the scoring in the fourth quarter, and Eric Gordon responded with a layup of his own. James Ennis III nailed a layup of his own, he made two free throws on the next possession, and then he made a corner three to get the lead to 20 points. Hartenstein then hit a three and Steve Kerr finally called timeout with 8:36 left in the game after the Rockets took a 88-65 lead on a 12-0 run. The Warriors emptied their bench because this game was over with eight minutes left. The Rockets closed out the Warriors and ended up with a 31-point lead. The Houston Rockets beat the Golden State Warriors 107-86.
Kevin Durant finished as the leading scorer for the Warriors with 20 points on 6/15 shooting with five rebounds. Three other players joined Durant in double figures as Kevon Looney had 12 points, Quinn Cook had 11, and Klay Thompson had 10. The Warriors were just flat-out abysmal tonight, shooting a combined 42.1% (32/76) from the floor, 22.2% (4/18) from three, and 81.8% (18/22) from the line. Not a single starter for the Warriors hit a three, so that was a problem.
James Harden led all scorers tonight with 27 points on 8/23 shooting (4/14) from three. He also grabbed three rebounds, dished out three assists, and got three steals. James Ennis III had 19 points on 7/11 shooting, and Eric Gordon had 17 points on 5/13 shooting. Both Chris Paul and Clint Capela had 10 points, and Gary Clark had nine. The Rockets shot a combined 40.2% (35/87) from the floor, 34% (16/47) from three, and 80.8% (21/26) from the line.
I know the Rockets and their fans will be celebrating beating the Warriors in a November regular season game like they won the Championship, so let’s just reminisce on this fine Thursday evening with a little throwback to this moment:
This was a nice win for the Rockets, and they won because they played 2018 basketball. They shot 47 threes and made 16 of them. The Golden State Warriors made four threes, and took less than 20 of them. That was the difference in the game tonight. Without their best shooter (the best shooter ever) the Warriors couldn’t create any space, their pace slowed, and their offense was stalled.
Tonight’s game was clearly a burn-the-tapes game for the Warriors. They need to come back this weekend against the Spurs and Mavericks and be willing to play modern-day of basketball, at least against Dallas, we all know Popovich and Kerr would like nothing better than to play a game where neither team takes a single three.
On the bright side both Kevin Durant and Draymond Green appeared to be interacting a fair amount and were laughing on the bench in the fourth quarter, so maybe that relationship is on the way to being mended.
The Rockets won, the Warriors lost. The Rockets shot threes, the Warriors didn’t. That’s the story of this game.
The Golden State Warriors play next on Saturday, November 17, in Dallas against the Mavericks at 5:30 p.m.