Takeaways: Rockets hand Warriors their third loss of the season after Draymond kick
A fantastic game sees Houston get its best win of the year.
The Houston Rockets walked into Oracle Arena on Thursday night as a team that the Warriors did not take seriously the year before. They dismissed and disrespected them all year long through their 73-win season and in their first-round victory.
But the Rockets are not last year's Rockets, and they proved that Thursday with a 132-127 win over the Warriors in double overtime.
Houston played top-notch defense, and the Rockets' style of fast-break madness, combined with having one powerful big on the floor in either Clint Capela or Montrezl Harrell, gave the Warriors' defense fits while establishing control of the boards and the interior.
It's the biggest win of the season for the Rockets, and the Warriors now have a third of their loss total from the entire season.
Here are some takeaways from a great, great game:
1. The Rockets are more than James Harden. Eric Gordon gives Houston another creator who can hit shots, and he added 23 points and five assists against the Warriors. Ryan Anderson hit 5-of-10 from 3-point range, finishing with 29 points. And the role players were everywhere. Sam Dekker's athleticism and energy helped him grab four offensive boards and his athleticism was a bonus on the offensive end. Montrezl Harrell and Clint Capela combined for 23 points and 14 boards with three blocks.
Houston has managed to add key veterans like Anderson and Gordon, and developed guys like Capela, Harrell, and Dekker to fill in the gaps. Patrick Beverley was a plus-21 and his defense was crucial. This was a team effort. Yes, Harden finished with a triple-double behind 29 points, 15 rebounds, 13 assists. But the rest of the Rockets stepped up and were there for them.
2. The Warriors were off. Golden State is the best shooting team in the league, and finished 12-of-44 from deep for 27 percent. When that happens, Golden State is going to have a hard time winning, and it still took double overtime for the Rockets to slip past the Dubs.
3. Curry's roller coaster. Curry on one level played great on-ball defense and was disruptive, but also reached way too much and found himself in foul trouble, which disrupted the Warriors' flow. Harden got him three times, just suckering him into reaching on easy calls for the official that Harden always draws. Eventually, Curry fouled out in the second overtime, and that was when the Warriors' chances really evaporated. Curry had a stretch in the third and fourth where he was electric and put on his usual show, but Curry also struggled defensively late in regulation and overtime.
4. Return of the kick. Yes, Draymond Green indeed sunk his team again with an unnecessary kick. The league released a memo in the preseason saying they would be watching and issuing flagrants for unnecessary kicks after Green's antics in last year's playoffs. Late in the game, Green was fouled by Harden. Green brought that leg up and kicked Harden in the head. The foul gave Green an opportunity to tie the game, but he hit one of two, while Harden then turned around and hit both free throws. That was a huge swing and, combined with Curry's ejection and a great Gordon runner, wound up being the difference.
Draymond elbowed and kicked Harden...can't change that call tho pic.twitter.com/mMXzx38zIi— gifdsports (@gifdsports) December 2, 2016
Green has to stop kicking people. Point blank. Intentional, unintentional, it's got to stop, because this is the second time in six months where it's cost his team in a big way.
5. Where was KD? Durant was great for three quarters, and then in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and the two overtimes, Durant was 1-of-8 from the field and 0-for-4 from 3-point range. He was good for so long, but then couldn't make the ones they needed most and seemed to disappear when Curry went out.
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