Shorthanded Warriors overcome Shorthanded Rockets, Win 124-114
After beating the Dallas Mavericks with a miraculous game-winning three from Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors (30-8) flew across Texas to take on the Houston Rockets (27-9). The Rockets have been the second best team in the Western Conference to this point, thanks to the spectacular play of James Harden and Chris Paul. The Warriors are the best team in the NBA, and would be looking to beat a Rockets team that ruined their ring ceremony and opening night. Both teams would be without a key player, Houston was missing James Harden and the Warriors missing Kevin Durant. Harden strained his hamstring against the Los Angeles lakers, and would miss several weeks. Durant strained his calf against the Mavericks, but finished the game, and was resting his leg against the Rockets. The Warriors went on to win the game 124-114.
In the first quarter the Houston Rockets got off to a hot start thanks to some sloppy play from the Warriors. The Warriors committed several fouls early, and the Rockets took 11 free throws in the quarter. As a team, the Rockets shot the ball extremely well at 54.2%, but they were only making 25% of their threes. The Rockets’ leading scorer was Eric Gordon, who finished the quarter with 13 points, and was a major beneficiary of the Warriors’ fouls, as he took six free throws. The Warriors also shot the ball well, at a 54.5% clip, but they also were not shooting the ball well from three. They were 3-8 on threes, which is 37.5% and still nearly 13% higher than the Rockets’ percentage. The Warriors’ leading scorer was Stephen Curry, who had 11 points. The Rockets were able to take a lead late in the quarter thanks to sloppy fouls from the Warriors, as well as a few sloppy turnovers from Steph and Draymond. After the first, the Rockets led 37-33
In the second quarter, the Warriors continued to shoot well, but sloppiness on the offensive end opened up opportunities for the Rockets to grab a lead. The Warriors got off to a hot start behind David West, who had eight points while going 4-4 from the field. After David West got going though, the rest of the team got cold, and missed countless midrange jumpshots. Shaun Livingston and Klay Thompson were both struggling from midrange, and Klay took a couple too many midrange turnaround jumpers for my taste. Klay Thompson was the Warriors’ leading scorer in the half despite missing several open looks. He had 15 points, and Stephen Curry was close behind with 14. Towards the end of the quarter, the Rockets began to click from deep and hit three straight threes, and at halftime, they had four players with double-digit scoring numbers. Eric Gordon led all scorers with 17 points, and Chris Paul pump-faked his way to 15 points. Clint Capela and Gerald Green both had 10 points, and Green continued to have a nice impact in just his fifth game with the team. At one point, the Rockets built themselves a nine-point lead, but the Warriors went on a run at the end of the quarter, which was capitalized by a nice three from Klay Thompson as time was expiring. Both teams shot the ball extremely well throughout the first half. The Warriors shot the ball better at 55.8% overall and 50% from deep, but the Rockets were close behind with 51.1% overall and 30.4% from three. At the half, the Rockets led the Warriors 63-62.
Now, I was out eating dinner during the second half and watched it from a TV in the restaurant, so I was only half paying attention. It was my brother’s birthday, so give me a break.
In the second half, the two teams continued to battle back and forth, with many lead changes. The Rockets led after the third quarter thanks to some spectacular shooting, but the Warriors roared back in the fourth quarter to take over the game. The game was dominated in the second half by the Splash Brothers, who combined for 57 points. Klay finished the game with 28 points and wsaa scorching hot as the game came to a close. Stephen Curry finished the game with 29 points and hit the three to ice the game, and continued his incredible scoring in his return from injury. Kevon Looney also played extremely well down the stretch alongside Draymond Green, who finished with a triple-double (17 pts, 14 reb, 10 ast). The Warriors are still undefeated when Green records a triple-double, and this was his 21st of his career, which is also now the franchise record for the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors won the game 123-114.
The Warriors are now 9-2 in their last 11 matchups with the Houston Rockets, including the postseason. The Warriors not only won, and beat the team that appears to be their biggest competition this year, but when they won, they did not act like they just won the title like the Rockets did on opening night. Now, the Rockets were missing James Harden, so that was obviously a big factor, and on any other night, the Rockets could blame the loss on that. Not tonight though, the Warriors were without Kevin Durant, who adds a whole different level to the Warriors team on both ends of the floor, so the game was pretty evenly matched. The bigger takeaway for me is that the Warriors beat Chris Paul, again, which I think is absolutely hilarious.
When CP3 went to the Clippers, they were supposed to be the next big thing, “Lob City” had taken over the league. Unfortunately, the Warriors exploded out of nowhere, and have been nearly unbeatable ever since, including posting the best record over a 3-year span in NBA history. I would feel bad for him if his play style wasn’t so god damn annoying. He just mauls opposing players all game and has the audacity to whine for calls, it's ridiculous. He has never made it to the Conference Finals, and has the tendency to drive his teammates crazy with how driven and intense he is. At a certain point, something has to give right? I can’t stand seeing that tiny dude just maul Stephen Curry all game at this point.
Draymond Green posted a triple-double, and he didn’t even have to artificially produce it like Russell Westbrook does. He does so much on the court and is such a special player because of how well-rounded he is. He can shoot, he can pass, he can rebound, and is one of the best defenders the league has ever seen. Tonight he scored 17 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and dished out 10 assists, and it looked totally natural. His intensity and drive does so much for the team, and it is almost like the anti-Chris Paul. His intensity brings the team together, and he knows when to turn it on and off, whereas Chris Paul will treat a practice in the middle of December like a game in the playoffs. Draymond keeps his team engaged at all times with his willingness to play hard-nosed basketball, and also the ability to become a fluid part of the offense to fit in today’s offensive driven NBA. He was absolutely incredible tonight, and he played a big part in Steph and Klay having great games.
When Draymond has a triple-double, the Warriors have never lost, and that has happened 21 times in his career, which is a Warriors franchise record. When he has it all working, he creates even more space on the floor, and is able to work as a distributor for Klay and Steph, who both have the capability to explode and hit 10+ threes on any given day. Tonight, for example, he was able to do it all, and because of that, he could help spread the floor for the Splash Bros, who both had over 28 points. Steph finished with 29 points and Klay finished with 28 points. His impact on the court is incredible, and when he has it all going, it is spectacular to watch.
The Warriors play their next game on Saturday, January 6, in Los Angeles against the Clippers at 12:30 p.m.