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.

Curry’s Triple-Double, Romping of Lakers Clinches Playoff Berth for Warriors

By Matthew Harrington

The Golden State Warriors locked in their spot in the 2014 NBA Playoffs Friday night at the Staples Center, riding a Stephen Curry triple-double to a 112-95 dismantling of the host Los Angeles Lakers. By matching or outscoring the Lakers (25-54) in all but one quarter the Dubs clinched their second-consecutive playoff berth under coach Mark Jackson and their first back-to-back postseason qualifications since 1992.

Warriors All-Star Curry fired off 30 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds over 34 minutes for his fifth-career triple-double. Klay Thompson and reserve Marreese Speights finished with 16 points apiece. David Lee joined Curry in double-digit rebounded with 10 boards.

Nick Young paced the forum purple with 25 points, and Jordan Hill and Ryan Kelly pitched in 18 and 14 respectively. Hill also had a game-high 12 points.

Golden State (49-30) nailed 48.9 percent of shots attempted, including a 13-for-25 clip from beyond the arc. The injury-riddled Lakers hit 39.3 percent of their field goals including only 9-of-28 from downtown. The Warriors dominated the glass with 57 rebounds to LA’s 42.

Both sides finished the first 12 minutes with 26 points. The Warriors rode a huge second quarter to pull ahead 58-42, notching 32 second-quarter points to Los Angeles’ 17. Golden State survived a Lakers 26-25 third quarter scoring margin before finishing off the home team with a 29-26 run to wrap up a playoff bid.

For now, the Warriors sit 1.5 games ahead of the Dallas Mavericks for sixth-place in the Western Conference with Golden State boasting a game in hand. The Portland Trailblazers sit 2.5 games ahead of the Warriors with three games remaining for the Dubs meaning in all likelihood, Golden State will be returning to Los Angeles and the Staples Center to face the third-seed Clippers when the playoffs begin. For now, the task at hand for Jackson’s side is a showdown with the Blazers on Sunday in Portland before the second half of a back-to-back against Minnesota at Oracle. The Warriors then get a chance to wrap up the regular season with revenge against the Denver Nuggets, 100-99 winners in a April 10th showdown in Oakland.

Curry Surprises Jackson With Buzzer-Beater Over Mavs In OT On Coach’s Birthday

By Matthew Harrington
Warriors coach Mark Jackson received quite the birthday gift from his All-star guard Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. Stephen Curry hit the game-winning shot with .1 seconds remaining in overtime to cap a Golden State 122-120 upheaval of the Dallas Mavericks (44-31). As coach Jackson blew out the 49 candles on his cake, the Dubs created a little bit of breathing room in the Western Conference playoff picture. Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs entered play Tuesday with 44 wins, just one less than their foes from California. The Warriors (46-28) have two games in hand over Dallas.

Curry’s game-winner in the extra session, his third career buzzer-beating basket, was a culmination of a 43-minute, 23-point effort. Fellow guard Klay Thompson topped Golden State on 27 points, going 11-for-24 from the field including 4-of9 from downtown. Jermaine O’Neal, starting at center with Andrew Bogut not making the trip nursing a sore groin and David Lee in street clothes for the third-straight game, picked up 20 points and 8 rebounds. Marreese Speights’ 9 rebounds paced the Warriors.

Ex-Warrior Monta Ellis did his best to sink his former franchise, shooting 11-for-23 with 27 points. Mavs perennial All-Star Nowitzki contributed a game-high 33 points over 39 minutes of play and converted the double-double on a game-high 11 boards.

The Warriors connected on a blistering 57.1 shooting percentage, making 52 shots on 91 attempts including nearly half (15) of their 31 shots from beyond the arc. Mark Cuban’s club held the advantage in turnovers, forfeiting possession 8 times to the visitors’ 12. The Mavericks somehow managed to keep Golden State from going to the free throw line for the entirety of the second half.

The Warriors overpowered their hosts in the first, racing out to a 30-21 lead after twelve minutes of play. Dallas bombarded Golden State with 41 second-quarter points, the most the Warriors have yielded in a single frame this season, while limiting the visitors to 23 points for a 62-53 halftime edge.

It took the Warriors nearly ten minutes of play in the third to catch up to Dallas when Speights rolled in a layup to make it 78-all before Vince Carter hit one of two free throws to restore the slim Mavs one-point edge. The Warriors would score seven of the last nine points for an 85-81 lead after three frames.

Dallas capped a 10-5 run to open the fourth with a Carter basket to pull ahead 91-90 nearly four minutes in to the final stanza of regulation. The Warriors briefly wrestled the lead back from their foes but found themselves trailing 106-102 with 1:43 until the final horn. Andre Iguodala and Thompson sandwiched three-pointers around an Ellis jumper to knot things up a 108 a piece with a minute left but that would be the last basket of regulation as the teams would require an five-minute overtime to decide the victor.

Dallas opened the final five minutes on a Dirk jumper before Jermaine O’Neal hit only one of two free throws to pull the Warriors within one at 110-109. O’Neal represented the first Warrior to head to the charity stripe since Thompson completed the and-1 play with 2:55 left in the second quarter. From there the two teams would go shot-for-shot over the next five baskets before a Thompson trey preceded a Curry 16-foot jumper to put the Dubs up 118-117 over halfway through OT.

The Mavs’ Jose Calderon responded with a three of his own before O’Neal took a Draymon Green feed to the rim to knot things up at 120-all. The Warriors were looking for a quick basket to force a last-possession chance, a goal achieved when Green connected with O’Neal with 28 seconds left.

On the penultimate Dallas possession of the game, Ellis tried to take the winning shot but he was rejected on the layup by O’Neal. On the next Warrior possession Curry connected on the off-balance jumper with a tenth of a second remaining. The Mavs couldn’t connect on the in-bound deflection play, and after a brief review, the Warriors win was official.

Golden State looks to give Jackson a second belated gift Wednesday evening. They continue on to a showdown in San Antonio with the Spurs at the AT&T Center where they haven’t won since Valentine’s Day of 1997, just six days before then 31-year-old point guard Jackson was dealt from the Denver Nuggets back to the Indiana Pacers. After the second leg of the Texas road trip the Warriors return to the West Coast for a showdown with in-state rivals, the Sacramento Kings, Friday night at Oracle Arena.

Warriors refuse to lose, mount late comeback to top Grizzlies, 100-93

By Gabe Schapiro

The Golden State Warriors (45-27) simply wouldn’t be denied as Stephen Curry led a late comeback to topple the Memphis Grizzlies (43-29), 100-93, Friday night, at Oracle Arena. A Grizzlies win would have tied the two squads in the standings, and extended their luck on the Warriors home court, having won four straight in Oakland. Golden State was without David Lee and Andrew Bogut, but they still put together one of their more impressive outings of the season, leading to very different headlines.

The contest was close throughout, and was played with a true playoff atmosphere. Neither side ever held more than a seven-point lead, as the two Western Conference foes duked it out. The Warriors had a three-point lead after the first quarter, and that was trimmed down to one point heading into half time.

After another close quarter in the third, as it often does it all came down to the final 12 minutes. Heading into the waning minutes the momentum swung decidedly in the Grizzlies favor, and it looked like they would outlast Golden State. With a bit more than three minutes remaining, Memphis had opened up a game-high seven-point lead. The Grizzlies wouldn’t score another point, however, and the Warriors came alive, going on a 14-0 run.

A huge Draymond Green three-pointer brought the Dubs back to within just two points, and a minute later Curry followed suit with a trey of his own to tie grab back the lead. Golden State suffocated the Grizzlies offense in the final minute plus, and Curry provided the dagger on the offensive end. Two Klay Thompson free-throws with a few seconds left officially sealed the Warriors victory.

Curry was fantastic, finishing with a game-high 33 points, eight assists, five rebounds, two blocks, and a steal. If he was Batman, than Green may well have been his batman. He played a huge 32 minutes off the bench, and contributed 12 points and nine boards. Marreese Speights got his first start of the season, a decision that was initially confusing, but paid off. He had 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, and eight rebounds.

On the negative side Bogut took a hit to the groin just four minutes into the game, and never returned after heading to the locker room. His status moving forward is unknown, but would be a huge loss if he has to miss any significant time.

Zach Randolph led the way for Memphis in the losing effort. He posted a team-high 21 points and seven rebounds. Mike Conley added 20 points and six assists.

The Warriors are back in action this Sunday, when the New York Knicks come to town. The game starts at 6:00 PM.

Speights’ career night leads Warriors blowout over 76ers, 123-80

By Gabe Schapiro

The Golden State Warriors (31-21) thoroughly dominated the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers (15-33), 123-80, Monday night, at Oracle Arena. The 76ers came into this contest as one of the league’s worst, and the shorthanded Warriors made them look like it. The game was never close, as Golden State had the clear edge in every respect. Marreese Speights was going up against the team that drafted him, and certainly made it a special one.

In what would be a good indicator of the rest of the night, the game began with a Philadelphia turnover leading to a Stephen Curry three-pointer. As a team they hit four of their first five shots, including 3-3 from beyond the arc. They kept pouring it on from there.

It was the surprising Speights who provided the majority of the entertainment tonight. He has spent most of the season as a bench player with minimal impact. He was once again a bench player, but on this night his impact was anything but minimal He entered the game with four minutes remaining in the first quarter, and seemingly out of nowhere turned into the human highlight reel.

Soon after entering, Speights was fouled and hit two free-throws, and much like the Warriors as a whole, he just kept scoring. He hit his first seven shots from the field, including a rare three-pointer, and 5-5 from the free throw line. At the half he already had 22 points, his season-high. Heading into the locker rooms, Speights had helped the team build an already insurmountable 66-33 lead.

He kept it up in the second half. Golden State coasted to the easy win, and when the dust had settled, he had scored a career-high 32 points, in just 26 minutes. For good measure, he added eight rebounds and three blocks. At one point the beaming Warriors faithful rained “M-V-P” chants down on him. He received a resounding standing ovation once he was removed, when the Warriors emptied their bench in the final minutes.

In all, six Dubs finished in double figures. On a rare night when he won’t dominate the headlines, Curry was still fantastic. He contributed 23 points, including 6-9 from three-point range, along with eight assists.

Draymond Green started for the third consecutive night, with Andrew Bogut still out, and notched his first career regular season double-double. He posted 11 points, 10 boards, and four blocks.

For the 76ers, Michael Carter-Williams was probably the only bright spot. He had a team-high 24 points, as one of three Philly players to finish in double figures.

The Warriors have one more game before the All-Star break. It’s not one they can write off, however, as they always dangerous Miami Heat are coming to town. The game is this Wednesday, at 7:30 pm.

Curry’s Heroics Hand Warriors First Win At Home In 2014

By Matthew Harrington

For the first time in 2014, the Golden State Warriors (25-14) took the Oracle Arena court in front of blue-and-gold clad fans and the Dubs did not disappoint in their first look of the new year Friday night. In a thrilling finish, Stephen Curry nailed a jumper with 2.1 seconds left to seal a 99-97 win over the visiting Boston Celtics (13-24) in the Warriors’ first home game since a win over the Phoenix Suns December 27.

Andre Iguodala broke out for 22 points with 7 assists and three steals, including a pivotal steal in the waning seconds of the game to build a Warriors lead with 19 seconds left. The hero of the night Curry dropped 19 on the struggling Celtics, losers of 10 of their last 11, while Klay Thompson (17), David Lee (16) and Marreese Speighs (13) also broke double-digits in scoring. For the visitors, forward Jeff Green had a game-high 24 points, Kris Humphries had one of two double-doubles of the game with game-best 14 boards and 16 points. Celtics forward Jared Sullinger joined Humphries with 11 rebounds and 21 points.

The Warriors got out front with a 24-21 first quarter but trailed at the half 49-47 courtesy of a Celtics 28-23 second frame. The Dubs drop 25 points on Boston in the third to 18 Celtics tallies. The Celtics entered the final 12 minutes trailing 74-67 but managed to outscore the home team 30-25 to force a 97-97 tie with just 11 seconds on the clock. Curry, currently on the bench, checked in the game for Draymond Green after Jeff Green hit the game-tying shot to force a Warriors time-out. Curry would use a Lee screen to create space and knock down the game-winner with aplomb.

The Warriors, fresh off a 6-1 road trip, receive a welcome respite before facing the Denver Nuggets at home Wednesday night. They then hit the road once again, taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night before a meeting with the New Orleans Pelicans Saturday.

Curry’s 23 points leads Warriors over Kings, 94-81

By Gabe Schapiro

In the second game of the preseason schedule, the Golden State Warriors (1-1) picked up a convincing victory, 94-81, over the Sacramento Kings (0-1) at Oracle Arena. While the outcomes obviously don’t count, the preseason remains very important for figuring out depth charts and building team chemistry. And of course, above all else it’s just about getting into game shape without getting hurt.

The Kings got off to a fast start in this one, hitting a groove early and nailing 62% of their shots in the first quarter. The Warriors looked a bit rusty, and trailed by as many as nine points. Stephen Curry kept them within striking distance, however, with seven of the teams 21 points, to go along with three assists through one. The highlight of the quarter was an impressive lob from Curry just past half-court to a streaking Andre Iguodala for a thunderous slam dunk. Although it’s just the preseason that was likely a glimpse of what we may be seeing quite often this season.

The momentum swung Golden State’s way in the second, capturing their first lead of the game with eight minutes remaining in the first half. David Lee, Klay Thompson, and Marreese Speights came alive, contributing eight, eight, and six points respectively by halftime. Lee also had a team high eight rebounds.

The Kings made a late charge, however, and retook a 44-39 lead heading into the locker rooms. Isaiah Thomas led the way for Sacramento with nine points and six assists.

By the third quarter both sides were predominantly playing their reserve players. Not to say that isn’t important as we get our first extended looks at the Warriors remolded bench, which will be one of their keys to success this season.

The two teams traded leads several times throughout the quarter, with Golden State mostly dominating play by the end of it. They out-scored the Kings 23-18, and outshot them .500-to-.313. Ultimately they erased their half time deficit, and headed into the fourth all tied up at 62-62.

The Warriors continued their strong play, and started running away with the game in the fourth quarter. In the last few minutes they emptied their bench, and eased their way to the win.

Possibly the biggest thing to keep an eye on through the preseason is how the competition for the fifth starting spot shakes out. Curry, Iguodala, Lee, and Andrew Bogut are pretty well entrenched as starters, leaving the final spot up for grabs between Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson. Barnes started tonight, but struggled early, failing to record a point, and was never re-inserted into the game after playing the first six minutes. Thompson, on the flip side played nearly 30 minutes on the night, and finished second on the team with 17 points to go along with four rebounds, two blocked shots, and a steal.

Curry had a nice outing, contributing a game high 23 points. Lee had a double-double, 14 points and 13 rebounds. Iguodala filled up the stat sheet, adding seven points, three rebounds, three assists, and a whopping five steals.

The preseasons schedule continues tomorrow in Utah at 6:00 PM.

 

Game Notes: Ognjen Kuzmic made his Warriors debut, playing five minutes…Speights had six points, three rebounds, and three blocks in 14 minutes off the bench…Seth Curry scored his first points as a Warrior, a buzzer-beating three pointer to end the game