The Golden State Warriors beat the Houston Rockets 121-116 at the Chase Center in San Francisco, California, on Monday, ending their six-game losing streak.
The Rockets repeated the newly-introduced defensive policy used by other teams when dealing with the Warriors: containing Steph Curry at all costs while showing no respect for others outside the 3-point line, including Klay Thompson. Considering that Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Chris Paul shot 33, 22.2 and 30.2 percent respectively from downtown per game this season before Monday, such defense was not completely unreasonable.
However, the Rockets misjudged this time. When they put plural defenders in front of Curry, who only took eight shots – but made five – in the first three quarters, Thompson, Wiggins, Paul and Dario Saric combined to drain 10 triples. Thompson contributed 12 points in the first period alone. Paul didn’t score double-digit points in any single quarter, but he dropped a double-double of 15 points and 12 assists in total. Saric got 18 points off the bench, more than any other backup player on Monday night.
Though the Rockets were playing back-to-back, they still had better energy, aggression and athleticism, which were displayed in their performances when they were going for offensive rebounds, individual defense and charging the rim. Nonetheless, most of their players were still fighting with raw talent instead of working under a well-designed system. When the Warriors kept making open 3-pointers, their ball-movement grew more efficient and dislocated the opponents’ defense, making the Rockets unable to attend everything at once.
As Curry faced less intensive defense, he was untied on the offensive end and so was able to do more work. He went 3-for-6 from the field and made eight free throws in the fourth quarter, scoring 16 points. The Warriors would have stood against the opponents’ rally without his excellent performance.
The Rockets went 13-for-41 behind the arc in Monday’s game. Ten of those shots were knocked down in the second and the third periods. The Warriors realized that they couldn’t stop the Rockets’ attacks on the paint in the first quarter and soon switched to closing in and zone defense in the rest of the game. Since the team doesn’t have all-round defensive resources, they invest their effort in what they do best – and, apparently, the Warriors bet on the right side in this game.
Other games on Monday (away teams come first):
Boston Celtics 118-121 Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets ended the Celtics’ six-game winning streak in overtime (OT) at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. LaMelo Ball shot 15-for-27 in field goals (FGs) to drop 36 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for the home team. Mark Williams and Miles Bridges both had double-doubles, combining to get 32 points and 31 rebounds. Williams alone grabbed eight offensive rebounds.
Despite the loss, Jayson Tatum played one his best games this season with 45 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, including 31 points in the first half. He knocked down a triple in the final minute of OT to place the Celtics on a two-point lead (116-114), and then drew a 3-point foul when they trailed by three points (119-116). However, he failed to make the third free throw that could have tied the game for his side.
Milwaukee Bucks 142-129 Washington Wizards
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored at least 40 points and 10 rebounds in the second consecutive game, and missed only three of his 23 FG attempts, to drop 42 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists for the Bucks at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. He completed nine dunks, multiple of which over the heads of defenders. He and Brook Lopez also dominated the boards, enabling their side to lead 47-27 in rebounds over the Wizards.
Sacramento Kings 93-129 New Orleans Pelicans
The Kings led 31-29 in the first quarter, but then were outscored 37-22 and 34-16 by the Pelicans in the second and the third quarters at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Zion Williamson made eight of his 10 shots, all in the restricted area, to score 18 points for the Pelicans in the second period. Then Brandon Ingram took over from him and drained six jumpers in the third quarter to add 18 points.
The game was a foregone conclusion before the fourth period.
Denver Nuggets 107-103 Detroit Pistons
Miami Heat 118-100 Chicago Bulls
New York Knicks 100-117 Minnesota Timberwolves
Los Angeles Clippers 124-99 San Antonio Spurs