Golden State Warriors 121, Houston Rockets 94: Giving up

Let’s just get the most important thing about this game out of the way – and which has absolutely nothing to do with the Houston Rockets and everything to do with Stephen Curry.

Curry was clearly limited in the first half, but you could see how much better he makes the Warriors. Even while he could not shoot, Curry is an underrated distributor and he did a great job at finding the open man for the Warriors in the first half. Never mind the fact that his mere presence at the three-point line can send even the best defenses panicking and scrambling.

In fact, I would say that despite the scoring disparity between the halves, I don’t feel like the Warriors played significantly better basketball in the second half. They just went bonkers from three-point range and the Rockets played a lot worse.

And boy, did they play worse. The first half was the most inspired play which I have seen from this team all season long. They got several nice lobs to Howard, Beasley scored so well that the Warriors double-teamed him, Harden facilitated, and Beverley ran around like an animal.

But then the Houston Rockets, tied at the half and facing the prospect of going down 3-1, “dropped their guard” according to J.B. Bickerstaff. And as they have done this season, the Rockets had a stretch or a period where the fans start to think things may turn around before getting slapped down by the hard wall of reality.

And as the Rockets face Game 5 and elimination on Wednesday against a Golden State team which will probably not play Curry, only the most hardcore of hardcore Rockets fans might believe they can take one, let alone two games in the Oracle Arena.

So how did the Rockets drop their guard? Well, I might have to correct myself when I wondered why Pat Beverley could not be a leader for this Rockets team. Perhaps what the Rockets most missed about Beverley as he missed the second half of Game 4 with a leg injury was how he will not back down from anyone. The beginning of that third quarter, when things began to slip away, saw Draymond Green go off. This included a stretch where he scored eight points in about a minute. And as Green launched that three-point barrage, he jawed like he always does. He jawed at the refs, he jawed about the refs, he probably jawed at the guy selling cotton candy.

And the Rockets just stood there, aside from a bizarre Dwight Howard-Shaun Livingston double tech where I flat out don’t get what happened. The Warriors at first just went on a run because they are an incredibly talented team without Stephen Curry. But then the Rockets gave up, stopped trying and let the Warriors do what they wanted.

Maybe Beverley’s leadership could have stopped that. At bare minimum, the absence of Beverley meant that Coach Bickerstaff turned to Corey Brewer for more playing time.

If you’ve been watching the Rockets at all this season, you know how that ended.

The collapse was almost totally on the defensive end, as should be obvious with a third quarter where Houston was outscored 41-20. But the offense had its problems too throughout the whole game, and it really showed in the third. The Dream Shake pointed out that the Rockets had 17 turnovers in about two and a half quarters, and that existed from the very beginning. Beasley started off hot in the first half, then started taking worse shots in the second half and dropped off. Howard only differed because he didn’t take shots in the second half. It just came down to the offensive playbook of going to Harden or scrambling if it did not work, and that was that.

Now, maybe the series isn’t over. Houston’s first four games against the Clippers last year were terrible ( even getting killed by Shaun Livingston is not as humiliating as getting beaten by Austin Rivers), and I can’t say that this Warriors team without Curry is better than the Clippers.

But this Rockets team is not the same as last year. And even if a miracle should occur, so what? The Clippers will get their revenge in the second round, and the Spurs would destroy this Rockets team as badly as they did Memphis. This is a flawed team, and Daryl Morey has a long way to go to fix this mess.

He may as well get started sooner.




About the author: The son of transplants to Houston, Paul McGuire is now a transplant in Washington D.C. The Stockton shot is one of his earliest memories, which has undoubtedly contributed to his lack of belief in the goodness of man.

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