By Gabe Schapiro
The Golden State Warriors (33-22) didn’t always make it look pretty, but as the saying goes, a win is a win. On Thursday night, at Oracle Arena, they beat the Houston Rockets (37-18) for the first time this season, 102-99, in overtime. Both offenses struggled for much of the game, in what often came down to isolation plays for James Harden against isolation plays for David Lee. When the dust settled, Golden State had grinded out a tough win.
The Warriors had their customary slow start to the game. Through 12 minutes of play they only trailed by four, but had only gotten eight points from their starters, compared to 12 points from their bench. Both teams were plagued by bad turnovers, miscues, and missed open looks.
The Dubs rebounded a bit in the second, turning the four point deficit into a four-point lead at halftime. Surprisingly the two foes star guards, Stephen Curry and Harden, had extremely quiet starts. Heading into the locker rooms they had only accounted for five points apiece. They would both come alive in the stretch run.
The sloppy but close play continued. Heading into the fourth quarter Golden State held on to their four-point lead, but it wasn’t a lead they held with confidence. Sure enough, in the fourth the Rockets clawed their way back, tying the game back up halfway through the quarter. In the waning minutes the two sides traded blows. Harden made one of his many big shots, a 23-foot jumper with 6 seconds left, to give Houston an 89-87 lead. Curry responded with a beauty of his own, a left-handed floater in traffic that arced over the skyscraper that is Dwight Howard, and sent the game into overtime.
In extra time, Curry again came up big and gave Golden State the quick lead with a three-pointer, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Jermaine O’Neal, starting in the place of the still injured Andrew Bogut, had the play of the game. With 23 seconds left in OT, the Rockets’ Chandler Parsons drove hard to the basket, and O’Neal elevated to meet him at the basket and ferociously blocked the shot.
Curry made four of four free throws, and Draymond Green made two more, to ice the victory in the waning seconds.
Curry made the big shots late, but it was Lee who was practically the entire Warriors offense for long stretches of the game. He finished with a team-high 28 points, to go along with 14 rebounds. Curry’s strong second half gave him 25 points and six assists.
Iguodala had a relatively quiet night outside of some big points in OT, but still filled up the stat sheet. He compiled 11 points, eight boards, and seven assists. Guard Steve Blake made his debut in a Golden State uniform after the trade that sent him over from the Los Angeles Lakers, and he finished with three points, two rebounds, and one assist in 18 minutes off the bench.
For Houston, Harden led the way with a game-high 39 points, 34 of which came in the second half and overtime. Chandler Parsons had a strong game, adding 21 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Dwight Howard had a dismal shooting night, hitting just 4-13 shots, but made his impact felt with 21 rebounds and four blocks.
The Warriors are back in action this Saturday, when the Brooklyn Nets come to town. The game begins at 7:30 PM.