Perhaps the most compelling part of the Rockets 123-101 defeat at the hands of the Golden State Warriors Thursday night is this sudden narrative being pushed that one of the biggest front runners the Association has ever known is suddenly an underdog.
David Aldridge, Marv Albert and Reggie Miller all commented at various times during the first half at the lack of respect being paid the Warriors throughout the league and that they are certain to use it as motivation in their upcoming title defense.
I'm not quite sure what world they're living in (the Golden State locker room, maybe?), but the Warriors are widely regarded throughout almost all circles as this year's primary championship contender. Sure, the West is loaded, and any real red-blooded Rockets fan knows Houston should be the true favorite, but I've yet to see anyone actually "disrespect" the Warriors' chances in the upcoming season.
It's an interesting narrative being spun to say the least. This imaginary underdog status being woven into the fabric of conversation just goes to facilitate the real world front runner position of the Warriors even further.
The second most compelling aspect of this preseason game is the spot-on prediction by Ethan in the Game Thread. It took all of 30 seconds for Steve Smith to mention the words "Western Conference Finals rematch" and "revenge."
Only as we look at the actual game, "rematch" is a bit of a stretch. The Rockets were missing James Harden, Dwight Howard and Trevor Ariza from last year's WCF squad, and they were also playing without the still-injured Donatas Motiejunas and newcomer Ty Lawson.
The Houston starting lineup tonight consisted of Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer, K.J. McDaniels, Terrence Jones and Joshua Smith. The Warriors, of course, were at full strength, and Houston JV team was simply no match.
Golden State quickly sprung out to a 34-25 lead after the first quarter, which they extended to 82-53 after a scorching second quarter. The Splash Brothers combined for 34 points in the first half, Golden State shot a whopping 71.8 percent from the field to the Rockets 42.9 percent, the Rockets committed 13 turnovers, and Reggie Miller and Marv Albert praised every last Warrior move like they had just won another title and weren't actually competing against a Houston squad missing 80 percent of it's opening day starting lineup.
The second half was much of the same, though the Rockets were able to close the gap a bit in the fourth quarter once the Warriors officially pulled anyone of note.
K.J. McDaniels led the Rockets with 20 points on 4-10 shooting and a pristine 10-10 from the line. He also snagged 8 rebounds, blocked a shot and provided what may have been the highlight of the night in breaking the nose of Warriors center and professional annoyer Andrew Bogut.
The Rockets also got 11 points from Terrence Jones, 11 points and 6 rebounds from Joshua Smith, and 10 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists from Patrick Beverley.
Houston's next preseason game is this Saturday night at home against the Miami Heat at 7:00pm CT.