Rockets soar past Warriors 127-105, evens West Finals 1-1

Photo credit: nba.com/warriors

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
SRS Contributor

The talk of a potential Warriors’ sweep can be put to rest.

After dropping Game 1 Monday night, the Rockets rebounded with a 127-105 victory over the Warriors in Game 2 at the Toyota Center Wednesday night.

James Harden finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds to help Houston regain home-court in the best-of-7 Western Conference Finals series.

“Guys were more active,” said Harden, who shot 9-of-24 from the floor and just 3-of-15 from 3, postgame to TNT. “We played harder and it showed tonight.”

Eric Gordon, who scored just 15 points in Game 1, exploded with 27 points in Game 2, matching Harden’s output. Gordon shot 8-of-15 from the field, including 6-of-9 on 3s.

The play of P.J. Tucker was big for Houston, scoring a playoff career-high 22 points on 8-of-9 shooting. Tucker was red-hot from 3, knocking down 5-of-6 from behind the arc, bouncing back from a poor Game 1 performance of one point on 0-of-3 from the field.

Trevor Ariza finished with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting and six assists, and Clint Capela finished with five points and 10 rebounds.

Chris Paul scored 16 points and had six assists, after recording just three in Game 1. Paul shot just 6-of-14 from the floor, appeared to be bothered by a lower leg injury in the second half as he ran with a noticeable limp. Paul did sit out most of the fourth quarter when the game was in hand for Houston.

The Rockets dominated Golden State in the second quarter, outscoring the Warriors 38-29.

“We can beat anybody, anywhere at any time playing the way we play,” Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Sloppy play, lackluster defense and the lack of another scoring option other than Kevin Durant were the main culprits in the loss for Golden State.

As a team, Houston was scorching from three-point land, knocking down 16-of-42 (38.1-percent). Golden State’s perimeter defense against the Rockets was nonexistent in Game 2 from the beginning, allowing the Rockets to drill 10-of-23 3s in the first half. Houston shot 51.4-percent for the game (45-of-88) and out-rebounded Golden State 47-36.

Houston led as much as 19 in the first half and was up 64-50 at halftime. The Warriors did climb back into the game, closing the gap 74-64 behind five points by Durant before Houston increased their lead to 89-72 behind an off-balanced layup by Gordon crashing to the floor, drawing a foul and making a free throw.

Durant finished with a game-high 38 points on 13-of-22 shooting from the floor, but was a one-man band Wednesday night at the Toyota Center for Golden State.

“We’re not the juggernauts of the NBA,” Durant said. “We’re a good team, but that’s a great team on the other end.”

Stephen Curry had another quiet game, scoring 16 points on 7-of-19 shooting from the field, but couldn’t get anything going from three-point range, connecting on 1-of-8 on his 3s. By hitting just one 3, Curry extended his NBA playoff record to 81 games.

In the first two games of the series, Curry is shooting just 2-of-13 on 3s.

Klay Thompson, who had his way with Houston in Game 1 scoring 28 points, was held in check finishing with just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting (2-of-4 on 3s).

Draymond Green finished with just six points, six rebounds and six assists.

“I think a lot of these games when you get in the playoffs with teams that are very talented and really great team, it often comes down to which one has the edge in terms of the aggression and the desperation,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the game. “They were desperate tonight, and they played like it. And we didn’t. And the results showed. We got what we deserved. They kicked our butts.”

The Warriors committed 15 turnovers, off of which Houston scored 15 points. Houston 13 points off 11 first-half turnover by Golden State, which in essence, had the Warriors climbing uphill for the entirety of the game.

Golden State shot 45.9-percent for the game (39-of-85) and were ice-cold on 3s, shooting 9-of-30 (30-percent).

But if you’re the Warriors, you’ve accomplished your mission of splitting the first two games in Houston. With the scene shifting to Oakland for Games 3 and 4, Golden State should feel good about where the series stands right now.

Game 3 is Sunday at Oracle Arena with tipoff scheduled for 5 p.m. Pacific.

Following Game 3, the two teams will play Game 4 on Tuesday, before returning to Houston for Game 5 on Thursday.

Rockets make it rain 3-pointers as they down the Kings 135-128 on Sunday

by Charlie O. Mallonee

SACRAMENTO–This was a tough game to analyze

“I think the whole thing is kind of hard, but some guys came through, played well. Bobby Brown played really well for us and we saw some good stuff. Obviously, a little ragged on both ends, but to be expected,” said Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni.

Here’s your 2:20 Game Wrap

Skal Labissiere on the Kings run at the end of the game

“We just started being more alert on defense because they have a hard offense to guard. So we kind of figured it out toward the end and just be more assertive on defense – that’s really what it was.”

Kings head coach Dave Joerger’s comments after the game

Key Stats from the game

Top Scorers

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Harden cheers on his team from the bench Photo NBAE
  • For Houston: James Harden posted his 21st triple-double of the season scoring 35 points to go with 15 assists and 11 rebounds
  • For the Kings: Rookie Skal Labissiere recorded 25 points shooting 10-for-12 from the floor. He also hit 5-of-6 from the free throw line

Team shooting stats

  • The Rockets attempted 80 field goals in the game. 43 of those attempts were from behind the 3-point line. They hit 18 of those 3-point shots (41.9-percent). Houston shot 56.3-percent overall for the game
  • The Kings shot 47-for-54 (50-percent) from the field which in most cases would be good enough to win the game for a team. They went 9-for-31 (29-percent) from 3-pointland. Sacramento had an unusually poor night shooting from beyond the 3-point arc

Kings who did not play – coach’s decision

Arron Afflalo, Darren Collison, Tyreke Evans and Kosta Koufos did not enter the game on Sunday versus the Rockets.

Kings draft positions after the loss

Sacramento would draft number eight in the Draft Lottery assuming the ping pong balls do not change history for all-time in favor of the Kings and make them number one. The Kings would also draft at number 10 with the pick they received from New Orleans for DeMarcus Cousins.

Tankathon.com projects that the Kings would wind up with French point guard Frank Ntilikina at number eight and small forward Miles Bridges from Michigan State with the number 10 selection.

Up next for the Kings

The Kings will play their final home game of the season on Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns. Sacramento is 2-1 versus the Suns this season. The Kings two victories came on the road in Phoenix. The Suns won the game in Sacramento 105-103 on February 3rd.

Kings host the Rockets in the final game of the homestand

by Charlie O. Mallonee

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The Kings wrap up their five-game homestand on Friday night when they host the Houston Rockets. The Rockets are 9-6 on the season and are in fifth place in the Western Conference.

The Rockets continue being road warriors tonight

  • Tonight’s game kicks off a five-game road trip for Houston
  • By the end of this trip the Rockets will have played 14 of their 20 games on the road
  • Houston is 5-4 on the road to date; they were 18-23 on the road last season
  • Toronto stopped the Rockets three-game winning streak on Wednesday night with a 115-102 win in Houston
  • WARNING: the Rockets are 5-0 in the first game following a loss this season

It’s still James Harden’s world

Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Seven
James Harden NBA.com
  • Harden is averaging 28.7 points, 12.5 assists,  and 7.7 rebounds per game
  • He has scored or assisted on 53.7-percent of the Rockets field goals this year
  • Harden has 12 double-doubles (points/assists) so far this season
  • He has recorded 15+ assists five times this season

New additions since last year

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Ryan Anderson NBA.com
  • First, there is the a new head coach in Mike D’Antoni. This is his fifth head coaching job in the NBA. He has been the head man at Denver, Phoenix, New York, Los Angeles Lakers and now Houston
  • Local product Ryan Anderson formerly of New Orleans – the 3-point bomber who loves to take on the Kings – is now a member of the Rockets. He is averaging 12.3 points per game and shooting 38.4-percent from 3-point range
  • Houston also signed Eric Gordon as a sixth man away from New Orleans. He is averaging 15.4 points per game off the bench for the Rockets

Kings – the final game of the homestand

  • Sacramento is 2-2 on this homestand. A win tonight would give them a winning record on this home tilt
  • This is the first of four meetings between the Kings and Rockets this season
  • The Rockets won 3-of-4 games last season
  • The Kings are looking to build on their wins over Toronto and Oklahoma City
  • This will be another test for the new “small ball” line up that has been put in place by head coach Dave Joerger

For Sacramento it’s still about Boogie

Oklahoma City Thunder v Sacramento Kings
Cousins celebrates versus Thunder (Rocky Widner/NBAE)
  • As Cousins goes so goes the Kings. The big man scored 36 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against OKC. They will need big numbers from him again tonight
  • Rudy Gay is always important to the Kings success on the court. He put up 17 points versus the Thunder just below his season average of 20.2 ppg. With a scoring machine like Ryan Anderson at forward for the opposition, Gay’s production will be key
  • Point guard Darren Collison exploded on offense in his first start of the season. He scored 21 points and dished out six assists in the Wednesday game
  • Sacramento also received good support from the bench on Wednesday night. Ty Lawson, Kosta Koufos, Ben McLemore and Garrett Temple all played productive minutes in the game
  • Coach Joerger went with a short bench against OKC. He used just nine players in that contest. Will that be the case again tonight?

The trade rumors just will not go away

More trade rumors were flying around on the internet today claiming that DeMarcus Cousins is about to be traded soon. The rumors have indicated that a trade would happen in early December to as late as February 2017.

The good news for Kings fans is their star player seems to be immune to the trade talk at this point is career. He has been the subject of trade rumors so often Cousins might only be concerned if he was left out of the rumor mill.

The concern is affect the trade talk might have on his teammates. It does not take much to distract a team and take them off their focus of trying play winning basketball. They need to follow the lead of their star player and focus on the game and not the talk off the court.

Back on the road again

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Barclay Center home of the Nets NBA.com

The Kings will head back out on the road for six games in 12 days with all but one game to be played in the Eastern time zone. It is a long trip but the good news is there is only one back-to-back set of games on the trip.

The trip opens on Sunday night in Brooklyn with the Nets. The Kings will then get the back-to-back out of the way early as they play the Wizards in D.C. on Monday night. They will also visit Philadelphia, Boston, Manhattan, and Dallas before returning home on December 9th to host the Knicks.

For entertainment purposes only

The good folks at FiveThirtyEight.com have the Rockets as the favorites in the game minus 0.5 points. They give the Rockets a 52-percent chance to win the game.

The FiveThirtyEight CARMELO system projects the Rockets to have an 85-percent chance of making the playoffs but just a one-percent chance of winning the NBA Championship.

The fine folks in Nevada say the Rockets are the favorites minus 3.0 to 3.5 points. They believe the over/under will be 215 to 216 points.