Warriors Under Review: Champs fail to close, hand victory to Rockets


Warriors Under Review: Champs fail to close, hand victory to Rockets

OAKLAND -- In identifying the most revealing losses by the Warriors in the first half of this season, the collapse against Houston is a strong contender for that label.

The Warriors were at home. They led by 20 points in the third quarter. They wanted not only to beat the Rockets but also to destroy them.

And they could ... not ... finish.

Here are some of the positives and negatives gleaned from a 135-134 overtime defeat that will haunt the Warriors until at least Feb. 23, when the Rockets return to Oracle Arena:


The third-quarter malaise

The passive-aggressive contrast of the teams was striking, with the Warriors being passive and the Rockets aggressive. Houston came out firing and the defensive response of the Warriors was soft, allowing 8-of-13 shooting from deep. Draymond Green, the heart of the defense, was not as effective as we’re accustomed to seeing. By winning the quarter 39-28, the Rockets trimmed the deficit from 17 to six and, more important, found rhythm and confidence.

The Warriors of yore frequently found their junkyard dogs at halftime and unleashed them in the third quarter. The dogs on this night were tame.


Durant, again, was the default option

The Rockets were defending Kevin Durant with PJ Tucker and Danuel House. Time to eat, right? Nah. Durant through three quarters had 11 field-goal attempts, three more than Kevon Looney. When the going was good, Durant often was uninvolved. When the going got tough in the fourth quarter and OT, he suddenly was Option No. 1, being force-fed. The Rockets responded by sending extra bodies. Durant was 4-of-12 over the final 17 minutes.

Coach Steve Kerr pointed out, as we have in the past, the offense suffers when Durant doesn’t get consistent touches.

[RELATED: Ball don't lie? Dubs lose to Rockets after questionable call]


The offense in the first half

The Warriors tallied 70 points in the first half, on 63.6 percent shooting, including 46.7 percent from deep. The ball movement was on point, resulting in 18 assists. There was balanced scoring; four players had between 12 and 19 points. Ten different players put in at least four minutes.

The desire to dominate was visible, at least for 24 minutes.


The early sloppiness

Maybe the sight of the Rockets got them too hyped up. The Warriors were overthrowing passes, trying to squeeze them through tiny windows and sometime simply failing to communicate. Stephen Curry had five turnovers in 17 minutes, Draymond Green had fou in 16. The result was 12 turnovers, most of them of the live-ball variety, giving the Rockets 15 of their 53 first-half points.

Cut those numbers in half, and the Warriors lead by 25 at the half. That would have severely tested Houston’s resolve.


They made Harden put in work

James Harden racked up a triple-double, with 44 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds. His 3-ball was deadly. He made the game-winning shot in OT. Yet the Warriors decently accomplished their priority goals, which were to keep him off the foul line and make him a volume shooter. Harden jacked up 32 shots from the field -- making 40.6 percent -- and nine from the line.

Harden averaged 15 free throws over his last 10 games. Though he extended his streak of 40-point games to five, he needed 11 points in OT to do it.

Warriors' Draymond Green won't be rooting for 49ers in Super Bowl 54


Warriors' Draymond Green won't be rooting for 49ers in Super Bowl 54

You can say a lot of things about Warriors forward Draymond Green. But 49ers fan is not among them.

After Friday's shootaround ahead of a matchup with the Indiana Pacers at Chase Center, Green was asked who he's rooting for in Super Bowl LIV.

"It's definitely good to see the Niners having the success they're having," Green said to reporters. "Obviously for me, my brother is on Kansas City, Frank Clark, so I'm definitely rooting for him to get a Super Bowl. No disrespect to the Niners."

[RELATED: Ask Kerith: Is Chase starting to feel like home for Dubs?]

Green went on to explain that he's a Steelers fan, as he liked the black and gold color scheme during his younger days.

Even as his team has moved its headquarters into San Francisco, Green isn't going to pick against one of his close friends.

Warriors star Steph Curry shares his favorite Stephen Jackson story

Warriors star Steph Curry shares his favorite Stephen Jackson story

The Warriors drafted Steph Curry in June 2009, and traded Stephen Jackson a couple weeks into the 2009-10 season.

So the two were not teammates for very long, but it was long enough to create some memories.

And on the most recent episode of Showtime's "All the Smoke" with Jackson and Matt Barnes, Curry shared his favorite "Stack Jack" story:

"This was probably like two weeks before you got traded -- we were on a road trip in Indiana, and like seven of us went to a steakhouse right down the street from the hotel.

"The day before, somebody had started rumblings about your trade rumors and (how) you were unhappy and (how) people in the locker room were unhappy -- media taking over, doing what they do.

"And I remember sitting at the dinner table, and you called up this reporter and cussed him out so bad for writing some untruthful article (laughing). And I'm sitting there, like (laughing) "This how we do it! OK. This how we do it!' I was crying (laughing).

"I was crying. That just told me when he knows what he knows and he's passionate about something, he's gonna let you know."

[RELATED: Steph tells story of encouraging call he got from Monta]

The visual of Jackson cussing out a reporter in the middle of a restaurant is just fantastic, and very on-brand.

"Stack Jack" stories never get old.

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