The Golden State Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets 127-120 on Sunday. It was the Warriors’ first road victory of the season and left a lot to be desired, but the Splash Brothers gave fans plenty of moments to enjoy.
The Warriors got off to another hot start, although this time, it was because of Klay Thompson. The younger Splash Brother started 6-for-6 from the field and had his first 20-point quarter of the season. Klay finally caught four and carried the Dubs to a 40-28 lead at the end of the first quarter. Granted, while the 40-points were great, the Warriors surrendering 28 points to a bad Rockets team was a foreboding sign.
With Thompson, Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins, and Draymond Green on the bench to start the second quarter, the Rockets stormed back. It remains baffling why Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is not playing one of those four with the second unit. Golden State never had a unit without one of Curry, Thompson, or Green in the early days of the dynasty. While Jordan Poole remains an exciting young player, it’s asking a lot of him to lift up a unit with basically no other offensive firepower.
The first minutes of the second quarter might have been the Dubs worst basketball of the season. Several turnovers and missed assignments started snowballing into an 11-0 Rockets run. Once again, an early double-digit Warriors lead had evaporated with the starters on the bench, and they struggled to stop the bleeding.
Rockets starter Kevin Porter Jr. and Jabari Smith led the way, each shooting 5-for-8 from the field with 14 points in the first half. Off the bench, the Rockets got solid contributions from Kenyon Martin Jr. and Tari Eason, who each added double digits off the bench as well.
With more confidence, the Rockets were a far more formidable foe when Curry and the other starters returned to the court. They kept Houston from pulling away but could not retake the lead. In the end, the Rockets led 65-60 at the half, outscoring the Warriors 37-20 in the quarter.
Halfway through the third, Curry and Poole began attacking the rim more consistently and things opened up offensively. The Warriors defense was still unable to string stops together, but Thompson knocked down a three in the final seconds of the quarter to put Golden State ahead 97-94.
The Warriors second unit did keep things even in the first few minutes of the fourth, setting the stage for the Splash Brothers to close things out.
Thompson put the Warriors ahead 113-108 with 5:11 left in regulation. After stopping the Rockets on the subsequent possessions, Curry missed a three that could have given the Dubs a bit of breathing room. A couple of possessions later, a pass around the top of the key put the ball in Thompson’s hands on the right wing. He double pumped, but fired away and nailed his ninth three of the game to put Golden State up 118-112.
Curry knocked down a three when the Rockets cut things to a one-possession lead and then Klay did the same thing less than a minute later. Up 123-117 with 35 seconds remaining, Curry launched a wild fadeaway three to put the Warriors up 126-117 that effectively sealed the game.
The Splash Brothers combined for 74 points, 12 rebounds, 18 assists, 5 steals, and just 3 turnovers. Thompson scored 41 points while Curry had a game-high +22 plus/minus with 33 points, 7 rebounds, and 15 assists. Wiggins added 22 points, 5 rebounds, and a pair of steals. Moses Moody was the only Warrior reserve with a positive plus/minus of +8 in less than five minutes of action.
While Klay’s breakout performance was fun to watch for Dub Nation, this game showed the team’s continued struggles. The Rockets were 3-13 entering play on Sunday and Golden State was still unable to hold them under 115 points. The Warriors will travel east tonight, preparing to play the New Orleans Pelicans tomorrow night. Opening tip is scheduled for 5:00 PM Pacific.