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Three thoughts after Warriors lose to Harden-less Rockets

© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors played the Houston Rockets tonight, who have James Harden, the man who almost singlehandedly beat the Warriors the last time the two teams played at Oracle Arena. Harden, however, did not play tonight. The Rockets’ star player sat out with a cervical strain in his neck and flu-like symptoms, and in his absence, the Warriors played an underwhelming, sloppy game.

Here are three thoughts from tonight’s game:

Draymond goes down

More than anything, the Warriors will be focused on the health of Draymond Green tonight. With just under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, Green went down after stepping on the foot of DeMarcus Cousins. He went down with serious pain in front of the Warriors’ bench, but his ankle did not appear to twist. Here’s the play:

Green then headed to the Warriors’ locker room and did not return. A few minutes later, the Warriors said Green had suffered an ankle sprain, according to Anthony Slater. After the game, head coach Steve Kerr said Green had tweaked the ankle earlier in the game:

“I don’t set picks, I just shoot”

Green is the opposite of Houston-born rapper Travis Scott as a basketball player. While Scott rapped, “I don’t set picks, I just shoot,” on “NO BYSTANDERS,” Green is a Swiss Army knife of a player and does all the dirty work. Green came into tonight’s game averaging near sevens across the board (7.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists per game).

He sets screens, plays staunch defense, and directs the offense from the high post. That effort was typified by a screen he set tonight of Chris Paul, which sent Paul hard to the floor, and set up Andre Iguodala for a half-ending score.

Before Green came out of tonight’s game with the ankle sprain, he was having one of his typically Draymond nights, finishing with 4 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 turnovers and 3 personal fouls.

Warriors out-played, out-hustled, out-everything-ed

Nothing about the Warriors’ performance tonight was promising. It made the Warriors 0-2 against the Rockets at Oracle Arena this season. There was an abundance of sloppy play, and as a whole, the Warriors seemed unable to get their offense going in the face of tremendous team defense by the Houston Rockets.

DeMarcus Cousins struggled especially, despite securing a team-high 14 rebounds, 13 points (4-of-12), 4 blocks, 3 steals and 2 assists. He finished with game low -17 plus-minus, along with a game-high 6 turnovers. His Rockets counterpart, Clint Capela, finished with a game-high +13 plus-minus, and a game-high 15 rebounds along with 8 points (4-of-8), a steal and a block.

While the shooting splits were pretty close, and the Warriors actually shot better than the Rockets (46.7 percent to 43.5 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from 3-pt to 37.2 percent), it was the turnovers and persistent Rockets defense that made the difference.

The Warriors committed 18 turnovers to the Rockets’ 14, leading to 25 points off turnovers for the Rockets, compared to the 15 for the Warriors. It did not help that Draymond Green was out down the stretch, but Jordan Bell played fairly well in his place (6 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal, +6 plus-minus), although he seems averse to shooting the ball unless it’s uncontested.

As a whole, it seemed like a game where the Warriors just didn’t have the energy to match that of the visitors’, who played with the rampant effort required with their MVP-candidate Harden missing.


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