Warriors, without Kevin Durant, win a thriller over the Rockets 106-104

Photo credit: @warriors

By Jerry Feitelberg

The Golden State Warriors broke two streaks Wednesday night as they beat the red-hot Houston Rockets 106-104 in the Toyota Center. The first streak they snapped was the three-game winning streak Houston had over Golden State, and they snapped Houston’s nine-game winning streak. The Warriors had to figure out a way to do it without the services of Kevin Durant, who suffered a bone contusion on his ankle Sunday night in the loss to the Phoenix Suns. Warriors’ head coach, Steve Kerr, inserted Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup to replace Durant. The Warriors needed the Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, to be at their best to win. Thompson and Curry did well, and DeMarcus Cousins came through with a season-high 27 points and was able to contain the Rockets’ big man, Clint Capela.

The Warriors needed to get off to a good start in the first quarter. They outscored the Rockets 33-23 as Curry knocked down 13 points in the first 12 minutes. The Warriors had an early 15-7 lead, but the Rockets went on an 8-0 run to tie the game at 15. The Warriors responded with a 14-2 run to lead 29-17. Curry and Kevon Looney each made a two-point bucket to increase the lead to 33-23.

The Warriors’ second unit played well early in the second quarter. Quinn Cook, DeMarcus Cousins, and Klay Thompson upped the lead to 46-34. The Rockets, at this point in the game, came to life and charged back. They tied the game at 52 before Steph made a basket and the first half ended with Golden State leading 54-52. Thompson led the Warriors with 16. Curry had 15 and Cousins had 7. Boogie also had five boards and six assists. James Harden and Chris Paul led the Houston attack with 16 each. Capela had 8. The W’s bench outscored the Rockets’ bench 11-5.

In the third quarter, DeMarcus Cousins was a force. He, as mentioned earlier, put a lid on Clint Capela’s game. He scored ten points in the period to keep the Warriors ahead. Klay and Steph were on target, too. Kevon Looney was magnificent on defense in the quarter, and he made a key bucket late in the period. The Warriors outscored Houston 31-16 and finished with a seven-point advantage 85-78 after three-quarters of action.

The Warriors used the second unit with Cousins and Thompson to start the fourth quarter. Rockets’ coach, Mike D’Antoni also had his starter, James Harden, resting on the bench. Cousins knocked down another 10 points to give the Warriors the lead 102-89. Harden re-entered the game at this point. Houston refused to cave, and their defense stifled the Warriors as they climbed back into the game. They kept chipping away at the Warrior lead and outscored the Warriors 11-2 to make it 104-100 with 47 seconds left to play.  Houston connected on a three, and now it was a one-point game 104-103. Steph made a bucket to increase the lead to 106-103 with 8 seconds remaining to play. After a timeout, Kerr told his players to make to foul either Harden or Chris Paul and not let them attempt a three-point shot. The Warriors fouled Harden. He made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second in an attempt to get the rebound and make a basket to tie the game. The strategy failed, and the Warriors won 106-104.

Game Notes and Stats: Kevin Durant rested his ankle on Wednesday and the Warriors hope that he will return to action Saturday night when they play the Thunder in Oklahoma City.

With the win, the Warriors improve to 46-21. Houston falls to 42-26. If the teams were to meet in the playoffs, the Warriors would have the home-court advantage unless the teams end the season with the same record. In that case, the Rockets would have home court as they beat the Warriors 3-1 for the season.

Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 30 points. He made 5 three-point shots in 10 attempts. DeMarcus Cousins excelled on offense with a season-high 27 points. He had 8 rebounds and 7 assists in his best performance with Golden State. Curry had 24 points and connected on 3 threes in nine attempts. The Warriors bench kicked in with 20. James Harden led Houston with 29.  Harden connected on 2 threes in 12 attempts. Chris Paul had 24. Eric Gordon pitched in with 17, and he made 3 threes for the Rockets. Capela had a double-double with 13 points and 13 boards. The Houston bench added 18.

The Warriors shot 49.4% from the floor. The made 12 threes, They were 10-for-10 from the charity stripe. They outrebounded Houston 44-31. The Rockets had 13 more free throws as Harden, and Chris Paul know how to draw fouls as they drive to the basket.

Up Next: The Warriors play the OKC Thunder Saturday night in OKC. Game time is at 5:30 pm. Game three of the four-game road trip will be in San Antonio Monday night, and they finish with a back-to-back set against the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night.

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