espn.com photo: The Golden State Warriors Damon Lee (1) goes airborne to take a shot against the Houston Rockets Clint Capela (15) at Chase Center in San Francisco on Wed Dec 25th
By Jerry Feitelberg
San Francisco- The Warriors met and defeated the Houston Rockets on Christmas Day by a score of 116-104. The game was on national television, and if the network executives had their way, they would have pulled it from the schedule.
The Warriors, who have been scuffling all season, won their third game in a row. On December 15th, the W’s were blown out by the Sacramento Kings. The W’s head coach Steve Kerr must have said something to the team as they have played well in their last four games. They gave Portland a tussle but lost.
They then beat New Orleans, Minnesota, and, now, the Rockets. It was a team effort. They played well on both ends of the court. They held the Rockets’ scoring machine, James Harden, to 24 points. They did not foul Harden either. Harden, the master of drawing fouls, had just one free throw, and he missed it.
The Warriors got off to a good start in the first quarter. They had an early 13-7 lead. The Rockets went ahead 16-15 about midway through the quarter. The Warriors were able to keep pace with the Rockets and finished the first period trailing by a point 29-28.
The Rockets appeared to have found their rhythm in the second quarter. Harden made 5 threes in seven tries to finish the first half with 19 points. Russell Westbrook added 18, and the Rockets led 68-64. The W’s Damion Lee led the W’s scoring with 17. D’Angelo Russell had 14, and Glenn Robinson added 10.
Willie Cauley-Stein scored the first bucket of the third quarter to cut the Warrior deficit to 68-66. The Rockets increased the lead to seven 75-68. The Warriors, behind Draymond Green and Damion Lee, tied the game at 78. The Rockets connected on a three to regain the lead. With the score 83-80, the Warriors went on a 12-4 run to finish the third quarter leading 92-87
The Warriors entered the fourth quarter, knowing they had to stop Harden And Westbrook. Harden loves to drive and pick up fouls. The W’s had not fouled him in the first three-quarters of play. Harden hit a three to put Houston back in the lead 97-96.
Harden was fouled on the play, and he missed the free throw. The W’s would not foul him again. The Warriors then went on a 17-2 run. Draymond Green and Glenn Robinson each made two 3-point shots. The Warriors defense stopped the Rockets attack cold. The W’s increased the lead to 115-99. The Rockets ran out of time, and the Warriors, with the fans on their feet, won the game.
Game Notes and Stats- With the win, The W’s improved to 8-24. The Rockets, leading the Southwest Division of the Western Conference, fell to 21-10.
The Warriors starters all finished in double figures Three players, Russell, Lee, and Green scored 20 or more points. Two players Lee and Green, had a double-double. Damion Lee led the team with 22 points and 15 rebounds, Draymond had 20 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists.
D’Angelo Russell knocked down 20, Willie Cauley-Stein 10, and Glenn Robinson had 18. Robinson made two three-point shots in the fourth quarter to help seal the Rockets’ doom/ Alec Burks, Jacob Evans, and Marquise Chriss, coming off the bench, had 8,8, and 6.
The Rockets were led by Russell Westbrook and James Harden, Each superstar had a double-double. Westbrook’s line was 30n points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists. Harden’s numbers were 24 points, 6 boards, and 11 assists. Harden made six threes in 10 tries. Danue House, Jr. had 18, Clint Capela 10, and P.J.Tucker 7. The Rockets’ bench added 15 points.
The Warriors shot 47% from the floor, and their defense held the Rockets to 37%. The Rockets made 16 three in 51 tries. The Warriors had nine.
The Warriors outrebounded the Rockets 54-49. The W’s defense stole the ball 7 times to go along with 8 blocked shots.
The Warriors resume play Friday night against the Phoenix Suns. The Suns are 11-19 for the year. The Suns blew out the W’s earlier in the season. Steve Kerr’s troops have played well in the last four games, and Kerr will be hoping the team will continue to improve.
The game will be at the Chase Center and will start at 7:30 pm. The W’s then play again on Saturday night against the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs are in second place in the Southwest Division with a record of 19-10. The game will also be at the Chase Center and will start at 5:30 pm PT.