The Warriors squeak by the Hawks, win twelfth in a row

by Jerry Feitelberg

The Golden State Warriors had to fight tooth and nail to defeat the Atlanta Hawks Monday night at the Oracle Arena. The Dubs trailed for most of the game but rallied in the fourth quarter to down the Hawks 105-100. The game was a thriller, and the outcome was in doubt until the final fifteen seconds of the contest.

The Dubs got off to a slow start as they trailed the Hawks 14-8 in the early going. The Dubs went on a 15-1 run to take a 23-15 lead, but the Hawks clawed their way back and trailed the Dubs 29-27 at the end of the first quarter. The Hawks played their game and refused to let the Warriors get any rhythm. Atlanta, coached by Mike Budenholzer who was an assistant at San Antonio under Greg Popovic, had his team use most of the twenty-four-second clock as they took the lead 42-38. The Dubs tied the game at 44, but Atlanta kept making shots and led by three 53-50 at the half. Klay Thompson put in fifteen for the Dubs while Steph Curry and Kevin Durant were held to 8 points each. Malcolm Delaney and Dennis Schroder had nine each and Tim Hardaway; Jr added eight. The Warriors committed eleven turnovers in the half and looked like they were out of sync.

The Hawks led the entire third quarter. Every time the Dubs got close, the Hawks had an answer. They led by seven 74-67 with just 3:53 left in the quarter. Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala each made a three-point shot to close the gap to just two points 78-76. The Hawks increased the lead to four but backup guard Ian Clark hit a three-pointer as time expired to make it a one-point game 81-80. The Dubs scored the first ten points to start the fourth quarter. Iguodala made two clutch layups to put the Dubs ahead by five 86-81. The Hawks would not fold. They fought back but could not regain the lead. They narrowed the lead to two, but the Warriors fought them off. Steph made a huge three-point bucket to put the Dubs up by eight 102-94. The Hawks know how to play defense too, and the kept the Dubs from scoring. However, Draymond Green stepped up in the final few minutes of the game as he blocked a Dennis Schroder shot and seemed to be everywhere as he guarded Hawks’ center Dwight Howard and guard Dennis Schroder. The Dubs held on to win their twelfth game in a row 105-100. The game was a thriller.

Game Notes- The Warriors are now 16-2 for the season. The twelve-game winning streak is fourth longest in franchise history.  The Warriors big three of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson all scored over twenty points in the game. The Dubs are 8-0 when those three score more than 20 in a game. Durant had a double-double with twenty-five points and fourteen rebounds; Durant blocked two shots too. Steph added twenty-five and three assists and three boards. Klay Thompson knocked down twenty. Draymond Green was fantastic on defense; Green had just three rebounds, but he blocked four shots. Andre Iguodala scored twelve, and he had five assists, five rebounds, and one blocked shot. Andre provided the spark the Dubs needed to get the win. The Warriors committed eleven turnovers in the first half but just four in the second. Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 24. Paul Millsap had fourteen points and fourteen rebounds for Atlanta. The big man, Dwight Howard added fourteen and had sixteen boards. Atlanta falls to 10-8.

After the game, coach Steve Kerr had this to say about the defense and Draymond Green in particular. “That was amazing. Don’t know if I ever saw a sequence like that. Incredible defensive sequence. (Green) can guard anyone in the league. Defense in the second half was great. I thought Andre was brilliant. He played with great energy, such a great basketball player.”

The Warriors meet the Houston Rockets Thursday night at the Oracle Arena. Game time is at 7:30 pm.

Warriors dominate Rockets 104-78; Curry suffers ankle injury

NBA: Playoffs-Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors
Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The juggernaut that is the Golden State Warriors steamrollered the Houston Rockets 104-78 in game one of the NBA Western Conference Playoffs. The Warriors led the game wire-to-wire en route to the win.

The dominate win has been overshadowed by an injury to superstar Stephen Curry. Curry tweaked his right ankle late in the second quarter and had to be taken into the locker room have the ankle re-taped. Curry would return to start the third quarter but played only 2:47 in the period before having to return to the bench.

In his postgame  media conference, Golden State head coach Steve Kerr told reporters that Curry would not have been available to return to the game if Houston would have made a comeback. Kerr went on to say that Curry is questionable for game two on Monday night. In NBA terms, questionable means there is only a 50 percent chance that Curry will play.

Curry was the Warriors leading scorer with 24 points in his limited playing time of 19-plus minutes. Not only would the Warriors miss Curry’s scoring punch but the sight of Curry on the bench could serve as real source of motivation for Houston who do not want to go home down 0-2 in the series.

The Warriors defense was as impressive as their offense. Golden State held the Rockets shooting to just 35.7 percent (30-for-84) from the field. Houston who lives by the creed of “score in the paint or shoot the three” shot just 27.3 percent (6-for-22) from long range.

The Golden State defense kept James Harden off the free throw for the entire game. Harden makes his living driving to the basket and forcing reach-in fouls for opportunities to score from the free throw line.

Kerr told reporters after the game that not reaching in on Harden was major point of emphasis for the Warriors defensive scheme. The plan worked to perfection.

The Golden State defense also caused the Rockets to be sloppy in guarding the basketball. Houston turned the ball over 24 times in the game. The Rockets had more turnovers than assists (16). A negative assists-to-turnover ratio makes it literally impossible to win a game in the NBA.

The Warriors held the Rockets to just eight second-chance points. For comparison, Golden State scored 25 points when give a second chance to score.

There will be much talk about the Warriors outscoring the Rockets by 26 points. The real discussion should be about the Warriors holding the Houston offense to just 78 points.

Warriors

Stephen Curry was the team’s leading scorer with 24 points. Curry went 5-for-7 from 3-point land. He also grabbed seven rebounds, had three steals and dished out two assists in his limited playing time.

As you might have guessed, Klay Thompson helped to fill the gap left by Curry having to leave the game. Thompson scored 16 points but had to take 14 shots to score those points. He was perfect from the free throw line going 6-for-6. Thompson finished with five rebounds, four assists and one steal.

Draymond Green had a double-double game scoring 12 points and recording 10 rebounds. Green led his team in playing time with 33:17 played.

Marreese Speights was the Warriors leading scorer off the bench with 12 points. He shot 5-for-11 from the field.

Andre Iguodala was real force on offense for Golden State coming off the bench to dish out a game-high seven assists.

Rockets

James Harden was the leading scorer for the Rockets with 17 points but he had to take 19 shots to score those points. He was just 3-for-5 from behind the 3-point line. Harden turned the ball over six times.

Dwight Howard was surprisingly a big factor in this game for the Rockets. Howard has experienced a less than stellar season for Houston. He put up a double-double in this game scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds for his team.

Patrick Beverley was also a surprising non-factor for Houston on Saturday. After a first quarter skirmish with Curry that resulted in off-setting technical fouls, Beverley picked up three personal fouls and was sent to the bench. He played just 5:10 in the second half after picking up his fourth foul. Beverley finished just two points.

What they said after the game

Steve Kerr evaluating how his team played

“…Very satisfied. I thought our defense was excellent. We didn’t reach. We made them earn every point and we did have the brief spell when Steph (Curry) went out where we sort of lost our focus, lost our poise but we quickly recovered, a lot of guys played but it was a good, solid victory.”

Klay Thompson on the intensity of the game

“It did (get chippy). You expect that in the playoffs.No team is going to lay down against us. I’m just happy we didn’t let it phase us. We’ve got a strong group.”

Houston head coach J.B. Bickerstaff on his team’s first half performance

“One of their strengths defensively is their versatility. They do a lot of switching. They have guys who can defend multiple positions. We didn’t do a good enough job making them pay. When they switch, we have to move more. Instead, we moved less which made us easier to guard. They just sat … they has 10 eyes on the ball-handler. We didn’t put enough pressure behind them, move them around enough so our penetraters could penetrate and make plays for other people. This can’t be a one-sided game offensively. The ball has to move. There has to be a thrust to your offense.There has to be early action, early attacks. They’re too good defensively if you don’t.”

Up next

Game two will be played on Monday at 7:30 PM (PDT) in Oakland. The game will be televised on TNT.

Failure to launch: Kings lose to Rockets 120-113

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Houston Rockets
Photo credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings lost a winnable game in Houston on Saturday night 120-113. It was game that featured some boring play in the first half and uptempo play in the second half. The game turned into a true seesaw battle until the final two minutes of play.

It was a two-point game with 3:11 left to go in the game. DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay were playing with five personal fouls each. Cousins fouled out with 2:14 remaining in the contest. The Rockets responded by hitting 3-point baskets and converting opportunities at the free throw line. In the end, the Kings could only commit fouls and pray for Houston misses which did not happen. The game ended with the Rockets on top 120-113.

The Kings started the game with their 12th different starting lineup of the season due to the loss of Willie Cauley-Stein to injury (dislocated index finger) for the next four to six weeks. Rudy Gay moved to the power forward position and Omri Casspi started at small forward.

Sacramento fell behind quickly in the first quarter shooting an appalling 36.8-percent from the field and going 0-5 for 3-point attempts. The Kings were also hampered by personal fouls. Gay and Cousins both picked two personals in the first period and had spend time on the bench. The Rockets shot just 41.7-percent from the floor but hit on 4-of-12 3-point attemps which helped them establish a 29-16 lead after one quarter of play.

Things turned around for the Kings in the second quarter. Ben McLemore led the attack with 11 points and Omri Casspi added seven points. Sacramento also made 4-of-9 shots from behind the 3-point line. Houston was unable to put together any scoring runs and watched as the Kings outscored them 34-23 in the quarter. The Rockets led the game 52-50 at the half.

Both teams looked like different squads coming out of halftime DeMarcus Cousins had to spend considerable time on the bench after committing his fourth foul. The Kings caught fire shooting 70-percent (14-for-20) from the floor. Rajon Rondo (8), Ben McLemore (6), Kosta Koufos (6) and Darren Collison (5) led the charge for Sacramento. The Rockets shot 58.8-percent behind the scoring of James Harden (10) and Dwight Howard (9). The third quarter ended with the Kings leading the game 85-84.

Kings

Ben McLemore had a breakout game against the Rockets. He scored 19 points hitting on 8-of-14 shots including four successful 3-point attempts. McLemore added nine rebounds, three steals, two assists and one block to his box score. Several times in the flow of the game McLemore was the spark plug that kept the Kings charge going.

Rajon Rondo had another double-double night dishing out 19 assists to go with 13 points. Rondo also recorded four steals. It was the 11th game of the season where Rondo posted 10 or more assists.

Darren Collison came of the bench and scored 18 points in just 21 minutes on the floor. He was an impressive 4-for-6 from 3-point land. Collison also added six assists.

DeMarcus Cousins was hampered by foul trouble the entire game but also just seemed out of sorts throughout the contest. The Kings center scored just 14 points and pulled down 9 rebounds. Cousins shot just 4-for-16 and was 0-for-3 for 3-point attempts.

Rudy Gay also had to deal with foul trouble but scored 15 points. He was 6-for-12 shooting from the floor.

Sacramento had solid team numbers for the game. The Kings shot 46.9-percent (46-for-98) overall and 38.5-percent (10-for-26) from 3-point range. They converted 11 of 13 free throw opportunities.

The Kings out-rebounded the Rockets 47-43. Sacramento won the battle of the paint scoring 56 points to just 36 for Houston.

Sacramento recorded 35 assists and turned the ball over just 13 times.

Houston

James Harden led the Rockets scoring attack with 31 points. Harden shot 6-for-14 from the floor and hit on 5-of-6 3-point attempts. He also had nine assists for Houston.

Dwight Howard had a double-double game scoring 22 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. When the Kings employed the “hack-a-Howard” strategy, Howard responded by making 8-of-14 free throws.

Terrence Jones scored 16 points off the bench to join Trevor Ariza (14) and Patrick Beverley (14) in double figures.

Two stats tell the story of the Houston victory over the Kings. The Rockets were successful on 16-of-34 3-point attempts, and they went 32-for-43 from the free throw line. In the end, it was too many 3-point baskets and too many free throws that caused the Kings to lose the game.

What they said after the game

“It was a frustrating game and the free throws … trying to fight through a tough whistle is … I thought we did a great job. I was proud of how they fought. I was proud of how well we played. We got off to a bad start. I thought our bench came in and gave us a big lift. You know we had foul trouble. Everybody kind of gave us something but we ran out of gas in last four or five minutes,” said Kings head coach George Karl after the game.

When asked to analyze Cousin’s performance, Karl said, “I think his jumper is a little rusty from being out for a little bit. I think the foul trouble bothers me. Inconsistent type of rhythm that comes with not being in your normal routine, normal minutes. You know he’s playing against a pretty damned good center. (Dwight) Howard is a pretty respectful dude.

Up next

The Kings headed right to the airport and flew to Oklahoma City where they will play the Thunder (11-8) on Sunday afternoon. OKC is a tough back-to-back on the road opponent.

The Rockets hit the road and will play the Nets in Brooklyn on Tuesday. Houston will visit Sacramento on December 15.

Warriors ground Rockets, win 17th straight at Oracle

By Joe Hawkes

OAKLAND — The Golden State Warriors continue to make winning in the NBA and over the Houston Rockets an easy

Klay Thompson scored 27 points and Stephen Curry finished with 22 points and 10 assists as Golden State established a new franchise record with their 17th consecutive home win with a 126-113 victory over Houston Wednesday in front of the 102nd straight sellout at Oracle Arena.

Golden State completed the four-game sweep over Houston this season, which hasn’t been done since the 1973-74 season.

Draymond Green had 18 points and six rebounds and Harrison Barnes finished with 11 points as Golden State shot 50 percent from the floor (49-for-98), while holding the Rockets to just 42 percent shooting (37-for-87).

“We got the best fans in the league,” Green said. “They make it tough for teams to come and try to beat us.”

Marreese Speights and David Lee finished with nine points off the bench for Golden State. Lee reached the 10,000-point career milestone in the process.

Andrew Bogut also finished with nine points, but recorded 10 rebounds and five blocks while playing 22 minutes.

The Warriors utilized a 26-6 run in the second quarter to push their lead to 62-42 at halftime.

Tempers flared in the third quarter when Curry ran after Rockets’ forward Trevor Ariza bumped the Warriors’ point guard.

“I got a technical for nothing,” said Curry. “Softest technical I’ve ever gotten. I thought it was a cheap shot, even if he didn’t meant it, that’s how I felt at the time.”

Ariza was assessed a technical in fact, Houston had four technical fouls called against them, two of them on forward Josh Smith who was ejected in the third quarter for arguing with referee, Tre Maddox.

Both teams finished even in total rebounds (46), while Golden State finished with the edge in assists (26-23), and Houston leading the turnover battle (19-16).

Golden State was lights out from beyond the arc, shooting 13-for-29 on 3s (44 percent). Houston shot 13-for-32 from downtown (40 percent).

“I thought we played well tonight, but we could’ve ended the game better,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. “We didn’t close the game like we normally do, but we had a big lead so we were able to ride it out.”

Golden State biggest lead was 30 points.

Houston (29-14) just didn’t seem to have it again against Golden State Wednesday night.

Outside of James Harden’s game-high 33 points, Corey Brewer (20 points) and Jason Terry (14 points), no other Rockets players scored more than nine points.

Center Dwight Howard finished with seven points and 11 rebounds while battling foul trouble. Howard also picked up a first quarter technical and was clearly frustrated for the remainder of the game.

“They play hard, and fast,” said Houston head coach Kevin McHale. “They make you make plays, they defend, and they pressure you. Give them credit for playing a great game.”

Golden State (34-6) joins just 10 teams since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976 to win 34 of their first 40 games of the season. At 19-1, the Warriors sport the best home record in the league.

“Teams are going come in a give their best effort,” Bogut said. “We’ll bring our game and continue to play hard and tough.”

The Warriors continue their five-game homestand Friday night with their I-80 brethren, Sacramento Kings visiting Oracle Arena.

 

 

Lee led Warriors earn ugly win, outlast Rockets in OT, 102-99

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.

Kings Handle Houston 106-91

Image

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings took the floor on Sunday against the Houston Rockets and looked like an entirely different team than the one that lost to Phoenix on Friday. They moved the ball on offense, blocked shots, made steals and played solid defense. The Kings beat the Rockets 106-91 because they played like a different team.

The game came down to the fact that Sacramento’s big three – Cousins, Gay and Thomas outplayed Houston’s big three of Howard, Harden and Parsons. The Kings big three outscored the Rockets big three 66-57.

Rudy Gay had a big game in his Sacramento home court debut. He scored 26 points (14 in the first quarter), shot 50.0% (10-20) from the floor, pulled down 5 rebounds, added four assists, made four steals and had one blocked shot. Yes, Rudy Gay is a difference maker for this Kings team.

DeMarcus Cousins posted a double-double, 21 points and 10 rebounds, despite not scoring his first points until 6:01 in the second quarter. Isaiah Thomas scored 19 points, had eight assists and made two steals in his 41 minutes on the floor.

Dwight Howard scored 13 points for the Rockets. He really hurt his team at the free throw line where shot 5 for 13. “Hack-a-Howard” looks like a solid defensive plan.

Harden put up 25 points and was 3 for 9 from 3-point land. Chandler Parsons recorded 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 40 minutes of playing time.

The Rockets jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first quarter. It looked like Houston might make it an early runaway. Then, Rudy Gay made a steal and a score that led the Kings on a 6-0 run. Gay, in his home debut, kept the Kings in the game with 14 first quarter points. Sacramento needed that from Gay as Cousins was held scoreless in the first period. At the end of one, the game was tied at 28 all.

The second quarter started off with the teams trading easy baskets. Derrick Williams led the Kings early in period and ended the first half with nine points. Isaiah Thomas hit a 3-pointer and was fouled. He hit the free throw for the rare 4-point play. Cousins scored his first points with 6:01 left in the half on a breakaway dunk. Sacramento opened up a 48-38 lead. The Kings also helped themselves from the free throw line. The Kings shot 16 for 19 (84.2%) from the line while Houston went just 10 for 20 (50.0%) from the stripe. Dwight Howard went 3 for 8 for free throws.

At the half, the Kings led the Rockets 57-49. Sacramento held Houston to just 21 points in the second quarter.

James Harden opened up the third quarter with a long 3-pointer. The Kings answered with an “alley oop” from Isaiah Thomas to Rudy Gay. At 10:54, Harden rolled his ankle while driving the lane. He shot two free throws one footed and left the game. The Rockets responded by stepping up their game and cut the Kings lead to one, 61-60. The Kings woke up and started scoring. Dwight Howard continued to kill his team from the charity stripe. Sacramento made steals, blocked shots and make baskets that allowed them to open up a 10 point lead. Harden returned at 5:26 but was obviously not at 100%. The third quarter ended with the Kings leading 81-71.

The Rockets made a mini run to open the fourth quarter cutting the Kings lead to 81-75. Howard continued to shoot poorly from the free throw line. The Kings settled down and opened up a 91-78 lead. Cousins, Thompson and Gay continued to break down the Houston defense and score baskets down low. The Rockets started looking tired, Harden was quiet and the Kings opened up a lead that they would never relinquish. Sacramento won the game 106-91.

After the game, Kings Head Coach Michael Malone said, “I felt better about the defense. We must have had a great film session.” Malone felt his team was ready to play.

Malone also stated, “I want DeMarcus (Cousins) or Rudy (Gay) on the floor at all times. Rudy makes us tougher to guard.”

With his team facing four games in five days on the road, Malone is hoping that the tough road trip will help his team build chemistry.

Note: Quincy Acy saw his first playing time as King versus the Rockets. He played 12 minutes, scored four points, had three rebounds and blocked one shot. Aaron Gray did not play on Sunday, but Malone indicated that Gray would see action on the road trip.

 

 

Warriors Comeback Bid Falls Just Shy as Harden, Houston Best Dubs 116-112

By Matthew Harrington

The Golden State Warriors comeback bid fell just short Friday night at Oracle Arena, as the Dubs fell to the Houston Rockets 116-112. The Rockets’ James Harden had a game-high 26 points while David Lee led Golden State with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Houston (16-8) held a slim 30-29 lead after the first 12 minutes before rocketing off in the second quarter to a 58-51 halftime advantage. The visitors would add another two points to their lead after three-fourths of play for a 82-73 edge. The Warriors (13-11) outscored Houston 39-34 in the final frame but ran out of time to complete the comeback.

Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes also notched double-doubles for Golden State as Barnes had 20 points and game-high 12 rebounds while Bogut had 11 boards to go with 10 points on the night. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were a combined 2 of 12 from beyond the arc. Houston forward Chandler Parsons added 23 points on 9 of 14 shooting and Dwight Howard reeled in 11 rebounds. He was also an astonishing seven-for-seven from the charity stripe.

The Warriors have now dropped 18 of their last 22 games against Houston dating back to January 29, 2008. They will look to bounce back Sunday in Phoenix as they take on the Suns.