The Houston Rockets came out ice cold against the Golden State Warriors and stayed that way shooting the ball all night, and despite clawing their way back into the game, they couldn’t quite get over the hump in falling to the Dubs 113-106.
James Harden finished with another triple double, putting up 24 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, but he struggled all night with his sore wrist, which he re-aggravated several times in the game. The injury seriously affected his shot, as The Beard finished just 5-20 from the field, and he missed several key layups that he usually easily makes. He also shot just 1-9 from beyond the arc.
In fact, the entire Rockets team were woeful from deep, finishing just 5-31 from three for the entire game. Golden State did a fantastic job of sitting on the Rockets’ shooters and forced Houston to try to beat them inside. The Rockets almost pulled it off.
After falling behind by as many as 22 points in the first half, Houston began to slowly chip away at the lead by going inside to Clint Capela off of the pick and roll. Capela finished with 21 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 9-10 from the field. His play helped get the Rockets to within 8 points at the halftime break.
The Rockets continued the strategy in third quarter, and after Draymond Green temporarily exited the game with a twisted ankle, Houston got as close as 3 points. The Dubs, however, got some surprise rim protection from Javale McGee, who subbed in for Green, while they continued to close hard on the Rockets beyond the arc. The combination stabilized the game for Golden State, who also managed to thwart several Houston pushes in the final frame after Green had returned to hold on for the win.
Despite their poor shooting and 16 turnovers, the Rockets shot 35-39 from the free throw line, but their huge advantage at the stripe (Golden State shot just 16 free throws) wasn’t quite enough to push them over the top.
The Warriors were led by Stephen Curry’s 32 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists, and they also received 25 from Klay Thompson and 19 from Green. The Warriors started the game off scorching hot, and though they finished just 11-41 from deep, they still shot 51.1 percent from the field for the game, so that should tell you how porous the Houston defense was at times.
In addition to Harden and Capela, the Rockets also received 17 points from Lou Williams (though he shot just 5-14), 13 points from Trevor Ariza and 10 apiece from Eric Gordon and Patrick Beverley.
The Rockets now have tomorrow night off before heading Portland on Thursday to battle the Trail Blazers, followed by a back-to-back against these same Warriors Friday night at the Oracle.
He may be against it, and I’m not a huge proponent for resting players down the stretch (I firmly believe the best way to stay sharp at basketball is to be playing basketball), but it may be time to give The Beard a night off against Portland. That wrist injury needs to heal before the postseason, and it’s not going to loosen up crashing to the floor a half dozen times per night.
We’ll see what Mike D’Antoni decides to do on Thursday.