Chris Paul

Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni jokingly roasts Warriors' loss to Suns

Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni jokingly roasts Warriors' loss to Suns

Mike D'Antoni's got jokes. 

Ahead of the Warriors' showdown with the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, the D'Antoni was asked what he thought about Golden State star Stephen Curry telling reporters his team has "an opportunity to send a statement." D'Antoni pointed out that Curry uttered those words in the wake of a 115-111 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday. 

"Yeah, well, they should have probably said it before the game," the Rockets coach cracked on Tuesday (via ESPN). "I'm sure they are. Why wouldn't they? I'd be surprised if they didn't feel that way. They were going to make a statement. They were going to come out, they were going to play. They probably stated the obvious. If they didn't say anything, I'm sure they're thinking it. You know how today is. Everybody's got something to say. I've got something to say."

D'Antoni can back up his (light-hearted) burn, as the Rockets have owned the Warriors this season. Houston has won all three games in the regular-season series, and eked out two victories by a combined total of seven points at Oracle Arena. In those games, Golden State has posted an ugly 119.6 defensive rating.

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The Rockets were confident last postseason they could beat the Warriors, but they haven't relished the win in the regular-season series. On Monday, Rockets point guard Chris Paul reiterated that Houston doesn't think Wednesday's contest has any extra significance -- even if Curry and the Warriors would disagree.

"A good headline," Paul said Monday when asked what he thought about Curry's comments. "Win or lose, it's a game. They're not tripping. I mean, they're probably not."

If either team is, we probably won't truly know until a potential playoff matchup between the Rockets and Warriors, but there should be plenty of quips in the meantime.

Rockets confident after beating Warriors yet again, only thinking of playoffs

Rockets confident after beating Warriors yet again, only thinking of playoffs

OAKLAND — The Houston Rockets don’t own the Warriors, not by a long shot. Nobody does.

The two-time defending champs are peerless in terms of depth, clutch performance and raw star power, but ... let’s be frank. The Rockets are a migraine headache.

Houston has won four straight regular-season games against the Warriors, including all three meetings in this campaign.

They beat the Warriors at Oracle Arena last month, and did so without Chris Paul. They beat the Warriors 118-112 Saturday night at Oracle Arena, and did so without James Harden.

The Warriors were at full strength in the latest loss to Houston, proof positive the Rockets are a threat.

That’s understood within Houston’s ranks, and there’s confidence they can compete with the NBA’s best team.

“I truly believe that we’re the team that can give them the -- we’re their toughest opponent, I feel like,” Rockets guard Eric Gordon said. “They know who they are. This is another game to them. We have to continue playing and trying to be a championship team. They know who they are. This is just another game to them, but this is a special one for us.”

It was also important to be the Warriors in the East Bay, where the Rockets have won three straight regular-season games dating to last season. Houston coach Mike D’Antoni cautioned against making too much of that, and threw a wet blanket on any hot take suggesting these Rockets have the Warriors’ number.

This is, Houston sang in chorus, only the regular season. Success in this part of the NBA calendar means ...

“Nothing. Nothing,” Paul said. “You can come in and win on a Monday night in February or a Tuesday night in November or December, but the playoffs is when you have to beat a team four out of seven times. It’s great that we won tonight, but in two days y’all will forget this. We all will.”

There’s one more regular-season matchup in Houston on March 13 that apparently won’t mean squat, but odds are great these teams will meet again when it really matters.

Houston’s currently the No. 5 seed, and is within striking distance of the No. 3. The Warriors are expected to finish atop the Western Conference, so it’s possible a Warriors-Rockets showdown could come in the second round or the conference championships.

[RELATED: Draymond Green says he'll 'be fine' after ankle sprain against Rockets]

The latter would be a rematch of last season’s classic seven-game series win the Warriors eeked out with two straight victories. Any postseason meeting should be highly competitive, especially considering the Warriors' track record and how these regular-season games have gone.

“It’s the regular season, so I’m not going to get fired up like last year,” Rockets center Clint Capela said. “I’m going to stay focused and take one game at a time and thinking about the playoffs. We all know that, in the playoffs, it’s a different atmosphere.”

Why Daryl Morey, Rockets won't miss Oracle Arena when Warriors move

Why Daryl Morey, Rockets won't miss Oracle Arena when Warriors move

Oracle Arena has not been kind to the Houston Rockets in the last five years.

Since Steve Kerr took over as Warriors coach, the Rockets are 4-12 in Oakland. They've only won there once in nine postseason appearances since 2015, and failed to clinch a spot in the 2018 NBA Finals when they lost 115-86 in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals.

Barring a postseason rematch, Saturday marks the Rockets' last trip to Oracle Arena before the Warriors move into San Francisco's Chase Center next season. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, in particular, is thrilled.

"I hate going to that building," Morey told Bleacher Report. "I've been there a lot, and they've got the better of us. I'm excited for the new building."

The last time the Rockets played in Oakland might have been a turning point. Harden nailed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to stun the crowd at Oracle, and the Rockets picked up a road win without the services of injured point guard Chris Paul.

That shot also kick-started the Warriors' current run, but the Rockets likely won't be too concerned with that, considering the state of their rivalry. 

"For us, we feel like [the Warriors] are a team that cost us our dreams," Rockets guard Gerald Green said. "So we always go in there with a little different focus."

[RELATED: Why Draymond reportedly made the move to Klutch Sports]

If the Rockets win Saturday, they'll have their first three-game winning streak at Oracle in the regular season since the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. Of course, Morey and his players surely would have preferred a playoff winning streak in the building, which a victory in Game 6 would have clinched.

In this case, "better late than never" doesn't offer much solace.