The Golden State Warriors needed a win against the Houston Rockets just to prove they could do it, and despite 39 points from James Harden they came through with a 102-99 overtime victory. The game was close throughout, and it appeared James Harden might seal a season sweep of the Warriors singlehandedly.
The Warriors went to David Lee in the post with less than a minute to go for what seemed like the hundredth time in the game (more on that later). Harden stole the ball from Lee, then went down and hit a jumper to give Houston an 89-87 lead with 6.9 seconds left.
Both Mark Jackson and Stephen Curry said the next play was designed to be a three for Curry, but instead Curry took it straight to the basket and made a shot high off the backboard over Dwight Howard.
“Once I caught it and saw Chandler (Parsons) kind of trailing me from behind and the lane was open, at that point it was about getting to the lane as quick as possible to try to get it on the rim. Dwight was there to protect. Thankfully I was able to get a little bit of touch on it and spin it in,” Curry said.
“I was expecting him to come and shoot a floater. That is why I tried to stay back until the last second,” said Howard, who had 21 rebounds but shot 4-for-13. “He made a tough shot and there is nothing I could do about it. He did an excellent job for his team. That’s what All-Stars do.”
The Warriors played strong defense for the second straight game coming out of the break, holding the Rockets to 36.6% shooting. Jermaine O’Neal had a large hand in that, and his left hand came through with O’Neal’s best play of the season — a block on Chandler Parsons with 23.8 seconds left in overtime.
(.GIF via @HPBasketball)
“(Parsons) made a great play going baseline and when you’re a big you kind of look at it like being a free safety; you see plays develop,” said O’Neal, who played over 37 minutes for the first time since March 18, 2010.
Here’s the look he gave after the block, courtesy of @LOLKNBRCallers:
The Warriors held the lead at halftime despite Patrick Beverly holding Curry to just five points on five shot attempts. Curry ended up with 25 points on 15 shots, and only two of those points came after Beverley fouled out in overtime.
“He makes me better. I love that challenge when that guy … you know that’s his mission to stop you any way, shape form he can,” said Curry, who talked about how the Warriors opened up the second half with Andre Iguodala initiating the offense during their first few possessions.
“Sometimes it’s easier to guard when you’re locked in on the ballhandler. We wanted to change it up a bit, give them a different look. Coach made a great move to do that, to free me and Klay up to get some shots.”
— Moving on from a Jackson decision that was praised to the barrage of Lee isolations against Harden that had everyone scratching their heads. Lee had 28 points and 14 rebounds, but things seemed to bog down whenever the Warriors tried focusing on that specific mismatch.
I asked Jackson whether part of the plan was tire out Harden, who scored 34 points in the second half and overtime.
“They don’t put him on Klay Thompson for a reason. We’re not just going to let him be out there playing one side of the basketball, which is offensively. We know he does that exceptionally well. We want to try to force him to defend. I thought our guys did a great job of attacking him, and I think it mattered at the end. It wore on him.”
Harden missed a three at the end of regulation that gave Warriors fans LeBron flashbacks when it left his hands. Out of three shots he attempted in overtime, the only one he made was a dunk at the buzzer with no one defending.
— There was another marriage proposal at Oracle Arena tonight. Pretty sure that makes at least five. Such a unique way to express one’s love and commitment.
— This was the Warriors’ first victory against a winning team on the second night of a back-to-back (the Warriors are 4-5 overall in those games).
— If 50 wins is the goal, Golden State’s magic number is now 17.
— The Warriors are in seventh in the Western Conference, percentage points behind Phoenix and a game ahead of Dallas.
— Steve Blake hit a three with three seconds to go in the first quarter, then took a charge at the buzzer. The foul call was reversed because it actually came AFTER the buzzer, but not before Kevin McHale was called for a technical foul. Other than that, Blake didn’t make much of an impact.
— Draymond Green only played 12 minutes after playing extremely well the night before and playing at least 27 minutes in each of his previous five games.
— @LOLKNBRCallers just sent over another .GIF as I was getting ready to pack up (it’s 12:30 am here at Oracle). It looks like your standard postgame interview, but check out the fan in the background.