Rockets defense slows Golden State

Rockets defense slows Golden State
December 7, 2013, 8:30 am
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Dwight Howard after win over Warriors

“Desperation. We had to win a game.”

That was what Rockets guard James Harden said about why the team came out and just suffocated the Warriors en route to a comfortable, 105-83 victory Friday night at Toyota Center.

“We lost two games, we should have won,” Harden said. “It was time to come home and just win. Find a way to win and we did it on the defensive end tonight.”

Houston forced 22 turnovers, just the second time this season they have forced more than 20 turnovers in a game. Those helped lead to 22 fast-break points. That’s the seventh time the Rockets have scored at least 20 fast-break points and they are 6-1 in those games.

They also held Golden State to just 35.5 percent shooting. It’s the first time this year, the Warriors have been held under 40 percent

“We knew coming into the game, we couldn’t allow Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to get off from the 3-point line,” Dwight Howard said. “They didn’t get a chance to really get going”

It all started with the Rockets effort on defense in the first quarter. The Warriors were harassed into missing all but four of the 20 shots and didn’t make any of the 3-pointers (0-4).

“Overall I think our effort was really good from beginning to end,” Howard said. “The last two games before tonight were terrible and we don’t want to play like that again.

Curry and Thompson came into the game as two of the best long-range shooters in the NBA, both shooting better than 44 percent on 3-pointers, but were just a combined 1-of-9 on 3-pointers and were just 7-of-24 shooting overall.

“If we don’t get after it on the defensive end, it’s going to be tough for us,” James Harden said. “Our mindset is getting stops and getting out in transition. We did a good job early in the game of putting pressure on their guards and it got things going our way.

“They are great shooters,” Harden said. “If you don’t contest it, then they’re going to knock ‘em down the majority of the time,”

Harden also bounced back offensively, after struggling on Wednesday against the Suns, making just 3-of-17 shots. He made his first three shots and took off from there, scoring 34 points, giving him his third game of 30 or more points in his last four.

He also showed some explosiveness, really for the first time since recovering from his broken foot as he threw down a monster slam in the first half that put the Rockets up by 23 points just before halftime.

The Warriors had come back from a 27-point deficit to win their last game, but could get no closer than 15 points following that emphatic, crowd-pleasing throwdown.

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