The Golden State Warriors beat the Houston Rockets 102-99 in overtime with two clutch plays making the difference: Stephen Curry with a game-tying layup in regulation and Jermaine O’Neal blocking Chandler Parsons which finally turned the game around.
Curry finished with 25 points, and his big layup came right after James Harden, in a huge night with 39 points, gave the Rockets a 89-87 lead, but some bad defense from the Rockets (what’s new) gave Curry a clear path to the paint to score the game tying layup.
The interesting think about O’Neal’s block was Dwight Howard posterizing him earlier in the game, which made Parsons think that he can pull it off as well. But there’s a slight difference in size between the two, and O’Neal, filling in for Andrew Bogut in the lineup, can still block athletic players with the right timing. The Rockets were down by 1 at that point with less than 40 seconds left in overtime. Parsons had a chance to pass it to Howard, but couldn’t get the job done against an aging player.
Stephen Curry scored 25 points while being guarded all game long by Patrick Beverley, who fouled out in overtime. He hit 8-of-15 with five three pointers, generally not looking bothered about who was guarding him. David Lee led the Warriors with 28 points and 14 rebounds, while Andre Iguodala, having a rough time defensively, did everything else right with 11 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists.
So the Warriors couldn’t stop Harden, who had 39 points. It just meant they were focused on stopping everyone else, which is the right method to follow through against the Rockets. Howard struggled with 11 points (and 21 rebounds), only 4-of-13 from the field. Chandler Parosns was awful with 8-of-24 from the field, thinking a bit too much that he’s a better player than he actually is. The Rockets looked better when Jeremy Lin was on the floor, especially without Beverley, but Kevin McHale continues to underestimate what he has.
That’s one of our biggest wins of the year. There were so many big plays that we made both offensively and defensively. We were patient, we executed and it was just a big-time win for us.
The Warriors gave the Rockets their first loss after eight consecutive wins, and enjoyed having Steve Blake, recently acquired via trade, although it’s more of a “it’ll work out in the future” kind of deal, hopefully giving Curry some quality backup minutes. This time he scored only 3 points and the Warriors usually struggled on his debut.
This wasn’t a high scoring game as you would expect from both teams. The Warriors shot only 39.8% from the field, but the Rockets were worse at 36.6%. It came down to who makes bigger plays on both ends in crunch time. The Rockets rely on just one player for some reason to do everything for them, making everyone else a little bit cold when their turn comes to step up. Stephen Curry was the one who pulled off most of the magic for the Warriors, but it didn’t feel like it was him against the world.