Jackson: Right now Rockets are a better basketball team
Dwight Howard scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Rockets' 116-112 win over the Warriors on Friday. (USATSI)
OAKLAND – The Warriors started fast Friday night, and then fell into their habit of falling behind. And this time, they did not catch up, losing 116-112 to Houston before a sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.
Five Warriors scored in double figures, led by 23 points from forward David Lee and 20 from Stephen Curry. Marreese Speights came off the bench to total 16 point and nine rebounds.
The Warriors took a 6-0 lead and quickly lost it. They played most from behind and suffered from acute inaccuracy from 3-point distance by of all players Klay Thompson and Curry. Neither hit a trey until the fourth quarter, and they finished a combined 2-of-11 from long distance.
The Warriors made 6 of 22 3-pointers, while the Rockets scorched the nets with 12-of-29 shooting from beyond the arc.
That deficiency, along with 18 turnovers (off which Houston scored 22 points) was more than enough to offset a surprising 56-32 advantage on the glass against the top rebounding team in the NBA. Harrison Barnes grabbed 12, Andrew Bogut 11 and Lee 10.
The Warriors were hurt early by Houston forward Chandler Parsons (23 points) and late by point guard Patrick Beverley (16, including two clutch jumpers in the final seconds).
No Warriors stood taller on offense than Speights, a free-agent signee who has been a disappointment. The subject of a frank pregame assessment by Mark Jackson -- ``he has to play better'' – Speights responded with his most active and productive game. He looked like a big man capable of helping.
After a Barnes follow slam tied it at 98-98 with 3:15 to play, the Rockets responded with a 9-2 run to go up 107-100 with 48.9 seconds left, sending fans toward the exits.
The Warriors, trailing from early in the second quarter, usually by double digits, were in danger of being blown out. They made it a game with 10-0 run that started late in the third quarter, closing to within 1 (82-81) with 9:45 to play.
Forward Andre Iguodala (strained left hamstring) and centers Jermaine O'Neal (surgery, right wrist), Ognjen Kuzmic (surgery, right pinkie) and Festus Ezeli (surgery, right knee) are out indefinitely. Iguodala worked out prior to the game, as he has on most days over the past week.
The Warriors will practice at their downtown Oakland facility on Saturday, then fly to Phoenix, where on Sunday afternoon (5 p.m.) they will face the Suns at US Airways Center. The Warriors last season swept the Suns for the first time in 36 years. Their six-game win streak against Phoenix is the longest in franchise history.