Warriors prevent season sweep with blowout win over Rockets
Stephen Curry had 29 points and 11 assists in the Warriors' 108-78 win over the Rockets on Sunday. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
In its most important game of the year, Golden State turned in one of its best performances.
The Warriors shook off their embarrassing loss to Chicago on Friday and ended a nine-game losing streak at Houston with a 108-78 win against the Rockets to keep possession of the No. 6 spot in the Western Conference standings.
"To come down after the job we did against Chicago, this is a big win for us," Stephen Curry said. "They won three games (against us) already, a half-game behind us before tonight. This is huge."
It was just the third win in the last 20 games against Houston for Golden State (38-30), which lost the first three meetings with the Rockets (36-31) this year.
After trailing by 23 to start the second half, Houston hit 11 of its first 15 shots in the third quarter to cut the deficit to five with four minutes, 39 seconds left in the quarter. Just two days prior, Houston erased an 18-point halftime deficit to win 108-100 against Minnesota.
"We expected them to make a run," Curry said. "Obviously, you want to try to eliminate it as much as possible, but you can't get rattled in that situation. When they start to close the gap and get the crowd back into it, you just got to stay under control and we were able to get a couple stops and have that translate into some easy looks on the other end."
With the Rockets surging, the hot shooting shooting of Klay Thompson kept Golden State on top. Thompson scored 11 of his 26 points in the third, which ended with the Warriors leading 75-60. Thompson finished the game 6-of-9 from deep
"Klay Thompson was absolutely outstanding," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "Not just offensively, but more importantly defensively. He defended one of the best in the businesss (Harden) and made him work for everything."
Harden scored 21 points for Houston on 6-of-16 shooting.
After a 2-for-13 performance from the field on Friday, Curry bounced back with 29 points, including 5-of-11 from three. He had 11 assists to just three turnovers as the Warriors avoided a drop to the No. 7 spot in the West.
Curry coudln't understate how important the win way.
"They beat us three times," he said. "They embarrassed us one game, killed it at the three-point line and they were a half-game back and, obviously, had a chance tonight to jump us in the standings."
Instead, Golden State extended its lead to 1.5 games with 14 games left in the regular season.
Houston used a 9-2 run to cut the Warriors lead to 79-69 early in the fourth, but it was all Golden State the rest of the way. Houston's 78 points marks its new season-low.
Andrew Bogut tied his season-highs with 12 points and 12 rebounds and finished with three blocks in what arguably was his best game in a Warriors uniform.
As adept as both teams are at scoring, it would have been hard to tell in the first quarter. Houston was just 3-of-23 (13.0 percent) from the field, but the Warriors (9-for-29) weren't much better in taking an 18-10 lead.
Houston's 10 points were the second-lowest scoring quarter for a Warriors opponent this year, bettering only the nine points New York scored in the fourth on March 11.
Considering the Rockets rank as the NBA's top-scoring team and went for 140 the last time the teams played in Houston, it was about as surpring a start as possible. For context, the Rockets' first quarter had them on pace to score 100 less points than they did against Golden State on Feb. 5.
The scoring pace was more than doubled in the second quarter as Golden State got hot and opened up a 54-31 lead. Curry had 16 points at the half (14 in the second quarter) and Andrew Bogut had eight rebounds .
Houston's 31 points were the fewest against the Warriors in the first half of a game all season and my.yahoo.com46 less than it scored the first time against Golden State. The 77 first-half points the Warriors allowed on Feb. 5 was their worst defensive half of the year.
Former Warrior Jeremy Lin scored 21 points for Houston.
Next up -- at New Orleans, Monday
The Hornets lost at Minnesota, 97-95, and will likely be playing without Eric Gordon on Monday as he's not currently playing in back-to-back games. Golden State won the first two meeting with New Orleans this year, including a 116-112 road win on Jan. 19. New Orleans has lost three straight and 11 of its last 14.