Inside the Paint: Houston big men dominate Warriors
Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (25) drives past Harrison Barnes during the first quarter on Friday night. (USATSI)
Mark Jackson called it a "bad loss.'' He's right.
Klay Thompson said there is no "excusable'' reason for it. He, too, is correct.
The Warriors on Friday submitted their worst performance of the season in a tip-to-buzzer 105-83 loss to the Rockets at Toyota Center in Houston. The evening started ugly, turned uglier was punctuated by an abundance of warts.
"There's been times when our bench has been bad, and we let them know,'' Jackson said. "Tonight, the starters did a poor job of setting the tone. We got outworked, they played with more force and it set the tone for the rest of the way.''
That, and the fact that there is another road game on Saturday, explains why most of the Warriors starters were spectators for much of the night.
The Rockets took possession of this one quickly, building a 31-12 first-quarter lead, as the Warriors missed 16 of their first 20 shots. And all those errant shots seemed to affect their defense, which consistently allowed Houston to get good looks.
"We didn't hit shots early and we had a tendency to dwell on that, as opposed to getting stops,'' Stephen Curry conceded.
The Warriors (11-9) shot a season-low 35.5 percent (27 of 76) from the floor, including a season-low 12.5 percent (2 of 16) on 3-pointers. They committed 22 turnovers, which Houston (14-7) turned into 23 points. They had a team total of 10 assists, the first time the Warriors have finished with so few since April 2008.
Yet the most worrisome aspect of this loss might be the punishment the Warriors absorbed in the paint, where they were outscored 54-36. Rockets big men Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones simply dominated Andrew Bogut and David Lee.
"Our starting group needs to come out with better energy and buckle down defensively, even if we missed every shot in the first quarter,'' Bogut sniffed.
If the Warriors are to become the team their press clippings suggest, they need to apply consistent defensive pressure. And if their All-Star power forward is blistered by Terrence Jones – and not bailed out by sublime 3-point shooting – it's going to be exceedingly difficult to win.
The loss dropped the Warriors to 0-6 on the road against playoff-caliber opponents this season.
Backup power forward Marreese Speights put up decent numbers (9 points, seven rebounds), though most of it was accumulated when the game was out of reach. Kent Bazemore scored 12 points in 17 minutes off the bench.
Just about everything, beginning with Curry's eight turnovers, Thompson's 2-of-10 shooting and their combined 1-of-9 3-point shooting. Then there was the ease with which Bogut and Lee were handled inside. And, finally, another game – the second straight – in which the Warriors began as if they were asleep.
Backup point guard Toney Douglas (stress reaction, left tibia) is on the trip but is listed as day to day. Forward Andre Iguodala (strained left hamstring) also is on the trip but remains out.
The Warriors visit the Grizzlies Saturday night in Memphis, where they have not won since April 4, 2008. The Warriors have lost their last 11 games, regardless of location, to the Grizzlies.