Por Justin Torres (TAB)
The fate of the Western Conference lies through the Golden State Warriors.
As the top two teams in the West battled it out, with each team missing top MVP candidates in Kevin Durant and James Harden, the Warriors pulled away in the fourth quarter en route to a 124-114 win over the Houston Rockets.
“Positives, there are no moral victories,” Paul said. “We played a hard game, but we need to get better down the stretch. We got to do better down the stretch.”
The Rockets jumped on the Warriors early, scoring 37 first quarter points to the Warriors’ 34, due to a hot start from guard Eric Gordon.
The Warriors, lead by their All-Star back court of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, eventually took back the lead in the back-and-forth contest and built a double-digit lead early in the fourth.
The Rockets’ Chris Paul and reserve Gerald Green kept them within striking distance, but couldn’t get a stop against the defending NBA Champions late in the game, as Thompson hit big shots for the Warriors down the stretch.
“We had to work hard for 48 minutes,” Thompson said. “I was proud of the way everyone stepped up.”
Gerald Green praised the Warriors, and thinks that with time, the Rockets can eventually get to the same level.
“We made some mental errors, I think, down the stretch, and they came back and they really executed plays, they got open, and they just kind of separated themselves from us,” Gerald Green said. “They’re a really good team.”
Both back courts scored with ease, as Curry and Thompson scored 29 and 28 respectively, with Curry adding nine rebounds and five assists, while Paul and Gordon scored 28 and 30 and combining for 16 assists.
Gerald Green helped keep the Rockets in the game with 29 points.
However, Draymond Green’s versatility could not be understated. Draymond Green notched his second triple-double of the season, scoring 17 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and added 10 assists, en route to becoming the Warriors’ all-time leader in triple-doubles, surpassing Hall of Famer Tom Gola.
Curry remarked that Draymong Green was special, after becoming the record-holder in such a short amount of time.
“He’s huge, he’s made a nice living off his uniqueness and what he brings to our team,” Curry said. “There may be nights where he doesn’t stuff the stat sheets, but he still finds a way to be impactful, and based on the eye test, just watching the game, you can see him all over the place.
With the win, the 31-8 Warriors hold a three-game advantage in the standings over the 27-10 Rockets.
Both teams expect to see one-another in the post season, further backed up by comments from Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey in late December being “obsessed” in wanting to beat them.
Like Gerald Green, Rockets Head Coach Mike D’Antoni stated that to beat the reigning NBA Champions in the playoffs, they have to play much smarter.
“You’re not going to beat these guys unless you’re smart, because they’re smart,” D’Antoni said. “And, they’ve been playing together five years, and we’ve been playing together three months, so you know, we’ve just got to make improvements.”