PJ Tucker

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in blowout 129-112 loss to Rockets

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in blowout 129-112 loss to Rockets


HOUSTON -- The Rockets-Warriors rivalry has long been among the NBA's best. 

At the moment, it seems the battle is dormant, as evidenced by Golden State's 129-112 loss to Houston on Wednesday night. 

The young Warriors put up a fight early, shooting 50 percent from the field in the first quarter. However, after a Rockets' blitz over the next 12 minutes, the outcome was never in doubt.

Without Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, more of these games are expected from the Warriors, as they're forced to prioritize growth and development over wins. 

Here are three takeaways from Golden State's latest loss.  

Paschall struggles 

Entering Wednesday, Warriors rookie Eric Paschall had been averaging nearly 30 points and eight rebounds over his last two games. The trend didn't continue against the Rockets, as he finished with 19 points on just 6-of-14 shooting from the field. 

Much of Paschall's problems came at the hands of PJ Tucker, who took the primary defensive assignment on Golden State's rookie. 

He did have his moments, though, including a baseline slam in the second quarter that put the Warriors up four points. 

Wednesday's game was a reminder of Paschall's current place in the league. Though he's been successful in recent games, teams are now scouting him as Golden State's primary scorer. Over time, he will have to adjust through film work and practice, something the Warriors are confident will happen. 

Second quarter of doom

While Paschall struggled, his biggest contribution might have been for the other team. Following an and-1 in the second half over Rockets guard James Harden, the rookie walked to Golden State's bench and yelled, "He's food!" before making the ensuing free throw. 

Harden and the Rockets responded with a 23-8 run to close the half, outscoring the Warriors 33-23 in the second quarter. By halftime, Harden had scored 20 of his game-high 36 points. 

While Paschall's comments might have sparked the Houston outburst, the Rockets' performance was expected considering the talent gap between the two teams. So Paschall and the Warriors will have to charge this one to the mismatch.  

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Another bad shooting night for Poole

Entering Wednesday, Jordan Poole was shooting 26 percent from the field. His luck didn't get any better by end of the night, as Poole finished just 2-of-11 from the field against the Rockets, scoring just eight points. 

Dating back to his college career, Poole has never been shy about chucking, regardless of what his shooting percentage is. That quality is admired by both players and coaches alike within the organization. Coach Steve Kerr has said that he has full confidence in the rookie's shot, no matter how accurate it is at the moment. 

Going forward, Poole's task will be to reward his team's trust and put the ball in the hoop.

Steph Curry re-injures finger but leads Warriors past Rockets in Game 6

Steph Curry re-injures finger but leads Warriors past Rockets in Game 6

Stephen Curry's finger is ailing, but he's surely feeling good right now.

Curry scored all 33 of his points in the second half, leading the Warriors to a thrilling 118-113 win that eliminated the Houston Rockets in Game 6 of the second-round playoff series and advanced Golden State to the Western Conference finals.

Twenty-three of Curry's points came in the highest-scoring fourth quarter of his decorated career.

It worked to the Warriors' advantage to close out the series as quickly as possible, but that point was reinforced after Curry appeared to aggravate the finger injury on his left hand when Rockets forward PJ Tucker made contact with it on the Golden State star's 3-point follow-through late in the fourth quarter.

In finishing the series in six games, the Warriors did themselves and Curry a favor, in that they'll now have some additional time to recuperate before Game 1 of the conference finals, which begins Tuesday at 6 p.m. PT. In the meantime, Golden State will await its next foe, which will be the eventual victor of the second-round series between the Nuggets and Trail Blazers, currently tied at three games apiece.

The winner-take-all Game 7 between Denver and Portland takes place Sunday at 12:30 p.m. PT.

Kevin Durant's injury hurts Warriors in more ways than one vs. Rockets

Kevin Durant's injury hurts Warriors in more ways than one vs. Rockets

The loss of Kevin Durant is undoubtedly a huge blow to the Warriors' NBA title chances. 

When the two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP left Game 5 of the Warriors' second-round NBA playoff series with the Rockets, the feeling around the series shifted. 

Steph Curry and Klay Thompson weathered the storm to lead the Dubs to a win in Game 5, giving the Warriors a three-games-to-two series lead over the Rockets. Durant was ruled out for the rest of the Western Conference semifinals with a right calf strain and will be re-evaluated in a week.

Let's get the obvious part out of the way: The Warriors will absolutely miss Durant's scoring on the offensive end. He's averaging 34.2 points per game this postseason and has been borderline unstoppable ever since his "I'm Kevin Durant" moment after Game 2 of the first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers.

But the Warriors, the greatest collection of talent in the history of the NBA, should have the offensive firepower to overcome that.

Curry, a two-time NBA MVP and the greatest shooter the game has ever seen, has struggled to find his shot against the Rockets while battling a dislocated finger on his non-shooting hand. But he snapped out of his funk in the fourth quarter of Game 5, and now will be relied upon to carry the offensive load, along with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, with Durant out.

In theory, the Warriors' offense should still be a deadly weapon from which there is little escape even without KD.

However, Durant's injury works in the Rockets' favor in more ways than one.

P.J. Tucker, Houston's best defender who has been hounding Durant all series, is now freed up to bully Curry and body Green. As ESPN's Kirk Goldsberry pointed out, that could be bad news for the two-time defending NBA champions. 

Since the beginning of last season, both Curry and Green's offensive numbers against the Rockets drop when guarded by Tucker.

When not being guarded by Tucker, Curry has a usage rate (percentage of team's plays he uses while on the floor) of 28.8 and an effective field goal percentage of 53.3. He averages 31.1 points per 100 possessions against the Rockets when not being hounded by Tucker. However, when the Rockets shift Tucker onto Curry, his usage rate drops to 22.6, his eFG dips slightly to 52.2 and his points per 100 possessions diminishes drastically to 23.6, via Second Spectrum Sports. 

Likewise, with Green, all three numbers drop significantly when being guarded by Tucker. His usage rate goes from 12.4 to 9.7, his eFG from 51.0 to 38.9 and his points per 100 falls from 13.3 to 8.1. 

This is all significant in that Tucker has guarded Durant more than twice the amount of any other Rockets defender, and he now can focus on bothering the Warriors' greatest facilitator and most dynamic offensive threat, depending on where Mike D'Antoni elects to put him.

But, Durant's absence also could benefit the Rockets on the other end of the floor, as well.

With his length and athleticism, Durant has been a key defensive piece for the Warriors, especially in this series. He has altered shots at the rim and bothered the Rockets' lethal guard trio of James Harden, Eric Gordon and Chris Paul when matched up against them.

While Andre Iguodala has been tasked with guarding Harden for the majority of the series, Durant has done an incredible job on the reigning NBA MVP when given the opportunity.

Per Goldsberry, Durant has guarded Harden on 54 possessions so far this series. Harden is averaging 100 points per 100 possession when Durant is hounding him. Iguodala has matched up with Harden on 164 possessions in the series, and The Beard is averaging 107.7 points per 100 possessions against him. After Durant and Iguodala, the Warriors' individual defensive numbers against Harden aren't pretty to look at. In terms of points per 100 possessions, the Rockets star more or less has his way with Thompson (117.4), Curry (126.4) and Green (132.0). If Iguodala gets in foul trouble early, Harden could feast in Game 6 and Game 7 (if necessary).

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So while the Warriors will miss having the ability to throw the ball to KD and have him go get them a bucket when needed, the two-time NBA Finals MVP's absence has larger implications than just his individual scoring numbers.