The Houston Rockets are no longer undefeated, losing 98-87 to the Golden State Warriors, enjoying a huge shooting performance from Stephen Curry, as the absence of Dwight Howard was too much for the home team to do without.
Curry scored 35 points on 13-of-19 from the field and included six 3-pointers while grabbing 10 rebounds, dishing out five assists and picking up four steals in what was no doubt his best game this season. With Curry playing so well, Klay Thompson really had no need of doing anything too special, scoring just 14 points on an awful 3-of-16 from the field. But while his shooting was poor to pathetic, James Harden on the other side struggled against Thompson’s defense, trying to do a bit too much in the absence of the other superstar.
Harden shot just 8-of-24 from the field, numbers that aren’t that far from his regular numbers this season in terms of shooting efficiency. He led the team with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. The pain of losing Omer Asik was felt as they started with Tarik Black and Kostas Papanikolaou in the front court instead of Terrence Jones and Howard. The duo combined to score just four points on 2-of-12 from the field.
The Rockets led at half time but were outscored by 19 points in the second half. Their offense was completely shut down as James Harden tried to do everything on his own in the second half instead of continuing to move the ball, something that always works when you’re on a talent inferiority situation. The Rockets shot just 34.9% from the field and had just 13 assists to their 30 field goals. The Warriors finished with 22 assists to 39 field goals and were at their most dominant under the boards, grabbing 54, including 15 offensive ones.
It’s their third 5-0 start. The last time it happened was 20 years ago, but that season ended quite miserably, with a 26-56 record. The 1960-1961 version of the Warriors started out the season at 9-0 but finished with a 46-33 record overall.
Andrew Bogut was probably the player who enjoyed Howard’s absence the most, grabbing 18 rebounds and adding 8 points and four blocks. Dryamond Green with 14 points and Andre Iguodala, continuing to come off the bench, also scored in double figures, finishing with 15 points.
The Rockets didn’t provide that kind of support to Harden who ruined plenty of things on his own. Isaiah Canaan scored 21 points, Donatas Motiejunas scored 16 points off the bench and Jason Terry helped out with 11.
The Warriors are undefeated, alone at the “top” of the Western conference for now, but it did take them a very depleted Rockets team to make it so. Despite losing for the first time, there’s nothing to really worry about for the Rockets, except for the usual tendency of Harden to do too much on his own and forget he’s playing a team sport.