Those who think that the well-publicized blow-up between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green will ultimately lead to the demise of the Golden State Warriors dynasty received some fuel for the fire on Thursday night. Golden State looked atrocious in a 107-86 loss to the Houston Rockets as Durant and Green took the court together for the first time since the incident.
The Warriors played solid defense in the first half, but just couldn't put the ball in the bucket (now would be a good time to mention that Stephen Curry didn't play in the game as he continues to nurse an injured groin), and in the second half the flood gates opened for the Rockets as they built a 30-plus point lead.
The principal characters both had sub-par games, with Durant finishing with 20 points on 6-for-15 shooting and Green being held without a point.
Here are some takeaways from the game.
Burying the hatchet?
The easy narrative for this game would be to say that all the internal strife is affecting the Warriors on the court. While that may be the case, it's worth noting that Green and Durant displayed no ill effects from their issues, and Green even found Durant early in the game for a dunk.
The two even had a short conversation and exchanged pleasantries after a miscommunication in the third quarter.
Overall it didn't seem like the Warriors were too affected -- at least in terms of execution -- by what's transpired over the past week. They just couldn't make shots. However, is it possible that all the mental exhaustion caused them to come out flat against a hungry Rockets team? You bet.
Not the same Dray
Whether it was his toe injury or just rust from the suspension, Draymond struggled in his first game back. He was held scoreless, only took three shot attempts and had as many turnovers (five) as rebounds and assists. Foot injuries tend to linger, so the Warriors may have to think about getting Green some rest in the near future. Of course, that's easier said than done, since any time he sits out there will be the inevitable chatter than it may be for disciplinary reasons.
Just what the Rockets needed
Before the game they jettisoned Carmelo Anthony, and then they went out and destroyed the defending champions -- a team they still think they would have beaten in last season's Western Conference Finals with a healthy Chris Paul. The Rockets' struggles so far this season have been documented, but a signature national TV win like this can be exactly what they need to get themselves back on the right track. Not only were James Harden and Chris Paul effective, but they also received key contributions from role players like James Ennis (19 points), Gary Clark (nine points) and Eric Gordon (17 points). The concern with this version of the Rockets was that they wouldn't be able to defend or hit 3s like they did last year due to the departure of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. They did both well on Thursday.
CP3 is too much
If you think Chris Paul has lost his swagger because the Rockets entered the game with a 6-7 record, you're sorely, sorely mistaken. After stripping Jonas Jerebko on a layup attempt, CP3 flashed the pearly whites on his way back up the court.
It was probably a bit over the top, but that kind of style and borderline arrogance can really get a team going -- the Warriors know this better than anyone.
Before going down with a groin injury, Steph Curry was off to an MVP-level start to the season. He averaged 29.5 points on 51 percent shooting from the field and a mind-boggling 49 percent on 10.5 3-point attempts per game. It's no secret that the Warriors offense doesn't function nearly the same without Curry on the court, and that was apparent on Thursday, especially with Klay Thompson (10 points on 5-for-16 shooting) and Durant having subpar games. Curry is expected to miss at least the next five games for Golden State, so they'll have to figure out how to generate points while he's on the shelf.
First one's free
OK, so the Warriors had a bad game. Not the biggest deal in the world. But given what's going on with the team emotionally, it's imperative that they bounce back on Saturday against Dallas. If they lose, or even struggle in a close win, the rumblings will only grow stronger that the Durant-Green dynamic is negatively affecting the team. It's going to be an interesting road trip, for sure.