• Brian L. Barefield

STREAK BUSTERS: Golden State halts the Rockets win streak at nine games.

It’s not often that a game that starts at 8:30pm in the middle of the week will get so much attention, but then again this was no ordinary game. The Golden State Warriors was in town to take on a Houston Rockets team that has seem to have their number this season. The reigning champs had lost three in a row to the Rockets coming into this game with Houston defeating them in Oracle 118-112 last month without James Harden who was out with a sore neck and flu-like symptoms.

Golden State ended Houston’s season-best nine-game winning streak by defeating them 104 – 106. They also stopped the Rockets five-game home win streak as well.

“We just didn’t play smart, simple as that. I think we let their guys get too many shots off,” said Rockets guard Chris Paul who had 24 points and six rebounds. “We say it all the time that in order to beat them regardless who’s playing, playing hard enough, isn’t enough. You’ve got to play smart,” Paul continued.

The Rockets came out with little to no energy in the first quarter as they only shot 36.8% from the field while the Warriors shot 58.3%. Golden State was led by a red-hot Stephen Curry who was 2-for-4 from three-point range while leading all scorers with 13 points. With the defensive intensity down, Chris Paul kept Houston afloat by scoring nine points. The lack of energy could have been from the Rockets playing their third game in four nights (Dallas, Charlotte, and Golden State). But Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni was not about to use that excuse on why the Rockets lost.

“That’s a good excuse that probably losers would say. I mean it is, but it isn’t, said D’Antoni during the post-game press conference. “It’s too bad because we didn’t have practice to get ready for them due to the back-to-back games and we needed to give them a day off,” D’Antoni said reiterating that they don’t make excuses in Houston.

Houston dealt with two main issues that they could not recover from which was rebounding and the “Boogey Man,” Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins. The Rockets were outrebounded 44-31 and Cousins dominated the paint by scoring 27 points.

“I was just playing in the flow of the game. I made the right decisions and we played a good team basketball game. When we play that way, I think everybody can get going and everybody can get into the flow of the game, and we can have games like we had tonight,” Cousins told the media after the game.

The Rockets have little time to recover from this loss as the young and vibrant Phoenix Suns roll into town tonight. Although their record of 16-53 doesn’t show it, the Suns are a team on the rise having beat the Milwaukee Bucks (1st in the East) and Golden State Warriors (1st in the West) in the span of a week. With just 14 games left in the season and playing to stay in contention for a number two spot in the Western Conference, Houston cannot afford to drop a game to an underachieving Suns team.

Coach D’Antoni summed up the attitude the team needs to have down the stretch when he uttered one sentence in his post-game conference.

“We just got to tighten it up.”

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