OAKLAND – The Rockets strolled into Oracle Arena without James Harden and never flinched. Never mind. The Warriors flinched enough for both teams.
Their 118-112 loss to Houston on Saturday was their third against the Rockets in three games this season – and the third time in a row in Oakland.
This was, however, the first time the Warriors were dominated in most phases despite the Rockets being without MVP candidate James Harden.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Gifts, gifts and more gifts
In a most discouraging development, the Warriors committed 18 turnovers, off which the Rockets scored 25 points.
DeMarcus Cousins gave it up six times, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green three times apiece.
This is the second game out of the All-Star break, so these errors should have been eradicated. A high number of turnovers against a team that shoots as many 3-pointers as Houston – which was 16-of-43 from deep -- practically begs for defeat.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Rough night for Boogie and Draymond
Both Cousins and Green spent the evening seeking rhythm and timing and, well, anything that could convey effectiveness or production. Aside from Cousins grabbing 14 rebounds, neither really did.
Cousins had a nightmarish first half, scoring 6 points while going 1-of-7 from the field and 4-of-4 from the line. He had three fouls, four turnovers and was minus-17 in 13 minutes.
He was better in the second half, finishing with 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting while grabbing 14 rebounds.
Green was unusually ineffective over his 24 minutes. The numbers weren’t good: 4 points (2-of-6 from the field, 0-of-2 from deep, 0-of-2 from the line), for rebounds, three assists. But his energy was off. There were no steals, no blocks and several times he was beaten off the dribble in ways he normally is not.
Dray was in visible pain and went to the locker room after stepping on Boogie’s foot pic.twitter.com/gFAa2BZOeD— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 24, 2019
Green left the floor with 8:56 to play after his left foot landed awkward atop the foot of Cousins and did not return.
About that start
Opening the game with the intensity of a vacant lot, the Warriors found themselves down 15-0 before Klay Thompson's 3-pointer put them on the board with 7:57 left.
Before the quarter was over they’d trail by such scores as 24-8 and 33-17 before ending at 35-20.
The Warriors couldn’t shoot, missing their first seven shots (including two Durant free throws) and finishing the quarter at 30.4 percent while Houston was at 50 percent. They committed three turnovers inside the first three minutes and five in the quarter, donating seven free points.
The convenient explanation is that there was a letdown effect with the absence of Harden. The Warriors wanted Harden and surely lost some mental edge.
That, however, is not a legitimate excuse. This was a prime-time game on their home court, where they’ve lost their last two games against the Rockets. They opened the door to three in a row and were not able to close it.