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Rockets blowout Warriors to get to .500

Houston made a statement tonight and deserve all the credit.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Yeah, there was no Stephen Curry. But this Golden State Warriors team still had one of the planet’s best players in Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were both out there tonight (though you might not tell by looking at the box score), and the Houston Rockets brushed them aside with ease in playing what was clearly their best game of the year in defeating the Dubs 107-86.

The Rockets won this game with effort and defense, both of which were cranked up high, and the Warriors simply couldn’t match Houston’s intensity. And that’s a pleasant thing to type, because effort was one of their issues when they opened up the year in a funk. This is a completely different team than the one we saw two weeks ago.

The Rockets received contributions up and down their roster, with James Harden leading the way with 27 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. James Ennis had 19 points and exhibited the athleticism we heard about when he came here, and also a dangerous shot. Eric Gordon had 17 points, and he hit on 3 of 9 triples, while Chris Paul finished with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks and was doing things like this:

Yes, the Rockets are having fun again, and it showed on the court against the league’s best team for Houston’s third consecutive victory.

But the true story of the night had to be the play of the two young guys, Gary Clark and Isaiah Hartenstein. It’s been a little while since we’ve seen young talent playing significant minutes in Houston, but these two certainly have earned their spot in the rotation.

Clark, whose play pushed Carmelo Anthony out of the rotation and now off the team, finished with 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks, and he knocked down 3 triples on the night including 2 in a big third quarter, and he also played his trademark tight defense. He finished the night as a +15.

Hartenstein played his best game as a pro, finishing with 6 points and 5 boards, but it was his energy and hustle, particularly on the defensive end and going for loose balls, that really stood out. He also hit his first career three-pointer and finished the game a +27 in the just 15 minutes of action. He was a big-time contributor.

The Rockets also got 10 points and 10 rebounds from Clint Capela, and P.J. Tucker did his usual dirty work despite not showing up heavily in the box.

The Warriors were led by Kevin Durant, who finished with 20 points, but he was just 6-15 from the field. The Dubs also got 12 from Kevin Looney, 11 from Quinn Cook, and 10 from Klay Thompson, who shot only 5-16.

In fact, the Warriors shot just 42 percent from the game, were just 4-18 from beyond the arc, and actually didn’t hit their first three of the game until the first half was almost over.

Draymond Green finished with 0 points, and he was significantly subdued tonight from an emotional standpoint as compared to his usual self. The Warriors were also flat as a team, so who knows how much an effect the locker room issues are currently having.

Anyway, that’s their problem out in the Bay, and meanwhile, things are starting to look up for the Rockets, who move to 7-7 and are finally back to .500 after an ugly start.

Sure, this may not have been Golden State at their best, but the Rockets deserve all the credit for shutting them down and playing at their best against top competition.

They’ll be back in action on Saturday night at home against the Sacramento Kings.