Here's what Russell Westbrook did to earn his second technical foul of the night, resulting in his ejection.
Westbrook now leads the NBA with 13 technical fouls on the year. pic.twitter.com/9dc7ETYw9z
— KNBR (@KNBR) February 21, 2020
The Warriors were bludgeoned by the center-less Houston Rockets on Thursday night. It was an assault by three.
Westbrook gets ejected
But the fans at Chase Center got some reprieve from the 135-105 loss late when Russell Westbrook, having received a technical in the early minutes of the game, was ejected after notching his second, and now league-leading 13th on the year. He leapfrogged Marcus Morris and Draymond Green in the process, and tied himself for the league lead with two ejections.
With about five minutes remaining, Westbrook got into it with just about everyone on the court.
It started with the Warriors players on the court, then Warriors players on the bench, then whoever was tasked with trying to calm him down, and then the referees, after bumping Kevon Looney on his way back to the Rockets’ bench.
A recommendation: watch Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins in the video below:
Lmao Westbrook tryna talk to the Warriors bench and Klay's just sitting there pic.twitter.com/jlJWV2ri4p
— Chris Montano (@gswchris) February 21, 2020
Wretched off-ball defense allowed Houston bombardment from deep
Houston went 15-of-26 from three in the first half and Golden State hit just once (from Jordan Poole) on 14 three-point attempts. It was less than spectacular. The Rockets finished that first half up 72-50, and the deficit failed to get any slimmer in the second half.
The bizarre thing about Thursday’s contest was how well the Warriors guarded James Harden on the ball. Andrew Wiggins, Green, even Ky Bowman and Juan Toscano-Anderson played tremendous defense on him. The most surprising was probably Marquese Chriss, who locked up Harden on back-to-back dribble attempts when switched out on him at the three-point line.
Harden’s shooting numbers suffered (29 points on 6-of-16 from the field, 3-of-12 from 3-pt), as they sometimes do, but he was 14-of-15 from the free throw line and had 10 assists. Westbrook quietly notched 21 points too, but it was Robert Covington, Danuel House Jr. and P.J. Tucker who really did damage to the Warriors, and consistently so from outside.
Covington scored 11 of his 20 points (7-of-13, 5-of-10 from 3-pt) in the third quarter, hitting a triplet of threes. House (11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, 3-of-4 from 3-pt), who was cut by the Warriors last summer, was t’d up at one point after hitting at a corner three. Tucker had 15 points and was perfect on all five of his three-point attempts.
Rockets’ small-ball outmatched Warriors
There’s been much made of the Rockets’ small-ball lineup, having committed to Tucker at center after trading away Clint Capela. It was a nightmare for the Warriors, who struggled to match up with the Rockets’ speed and length at every position.
It was that ability to move the ball quickly and cut off the ball that the Warriors struggled with all game. Again, it wasn’t the on-ball defense that struggled, it was the switching and closing out. Too often that small size and speed tested Golden State in ways they demonstrated a marked lack of awareness to keep up with.
The bright spots for the Warriors were Andrew Wiggins (22 points on 10-of-14, 2-of-4 from 3-pt) and Toscano-Anderson (10 points on 5-of-8 shooting with 7 rebounds and 4 assists). But it was not a silver lining type of night. Golden State was bad and the Rockets (25-of-49 from three) were just far too efficient.
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