Photo credit: @warriors
By Jerry Feitelberg
The Houston Rockets beat the Golden State Warriors for the third time this season by a score of 118-102. The Rockets were without the services of James Harden, who was out with a cervical strain and a touch of the flu, but thoroughly outplayed the Warriors on both ends of the court Saturday night at Oracle Arena.
In the first quarter, the Rockets went on a 15-0 run that propelled them to a 35-20 lead after the first 12 minutes of play. The Warriors were shooting just 29% from the floor as they were 4 for 14 with 3:21 left in the period. The Rockets’ Kenneth Faried, P.J.Tucker, Eric Gordon, and Chris Paul had no trouble breaking down the Warriors’ defense. The Warriors left too many men open, and the Rockets capitalized on the poor defensive play.
The Rockets led 50-30 midway through the second period. The Warriors woke up from their slumber and were able to cut the deficit to seven 61-54 at the end of the first half. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant led the charge in the last six minutes of the second period. The Warriors committed eight turnovers in the first period and just one in the second. Cold shooting, poor defense, and turnovers really hurt the team.
The Warriors grabbed their first lead of the game 64-63 early in the third period. The Warriors had an 8-2 run. Durant had five points, and DeMarcus Cousins hit a three to give the Warriors the lead. Houston regained the lead 73-71, but it didn’t last long as the Warriors were behind a bucket by Klay Thompson and a three by Curry regained the lead 76-74. It was the last time in the game that the Warriors would own the advantage. Houston went on an 8-0 run to lead 84-76. The Warriors played catch-up the rest of the way. The Warriors cut the lead to three 89-86 on a three by Andre Iguodala. However, the fans let out a collective groan when the Rockets’ Tucker connected on a three as the buzzer sounded to the third quarter. Houston led 92-86 with 12 minutes left in the game.
In the fourth quarter, the Rockets upped the lead to 14 110-96. The Warriors tried to come back as they went on a 7-0 run to make it a 114-110 game. The Rockets broke the spell with a bucket and were able to run out the clock for a 118-112 win.
Game notes and Stats: The key to the Rockets’ success Saturday night was the ability to stifle the Warriors’ Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Steph Curry down the stretch. They refused to give the Big Three any open looks and forced the Warriors’ other players to make shots. The strategy worked as Curry was not able to put any points on the board until late in the fourth quarter.
With the loss, the Warriors are now 42-17. They are still in first place in the Western Conference and would have homecourt advantage if the playoffs were to start today. The Rockets improve to 34-25.
Kevin Durant led the Warriors with 29 points. Steph had 25 points, nine boards, seven assists. He was 5-for-11 from behind the three-point arc. DeMarcus Cousins had a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Andre Iguodala, coming off the bench, had eight points. The rest of the bench contributed just 13 points.
The Rockets had five players in double figures, and three players had a double-double. Eric Gordon led the Rockets with 25. Chris Paul had a double-double with 23 points and 17 assists. Kenneth Faried tallied 20 points, 10 boards, and made 2 threes. P.J.Tucker hit four threes and finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Gerald Green led the Rockets’ bench with 10.
The Warriors committed 17 turnovers, and the Rockets had 13 steals and seven blocked shots on defense. The Warriors’ defense, led by Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson had eight steals and eight blocks. Draymond Green left the game in the fourth quarter. A Rocket player stepped on his foot, and he suffered an ankle sprain. He went to the locker room and did not return.
The Rockets won the first quarter 35-20. The Warriors outscored the Rockets by nine the rest of the way, but it was not enough to overcome the 15-point first-period deficit.
Up Next: The Warriors hit the road and play the next four games in Charlotte, Miami, Orlando, and Philadelphia. The Hornets are in first place in the Southeast Division with a record of 28-31. Game time will be at 4:00 pm.