Colin Kaepernick is on the hot seat, Uber Technologies is now worth $50 billion, and Donald Trump might be the next president of the United States. It's comforting to know that at least one thing still hasn't changed.
The hyped grudge match between the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors went like most of the last ten games between these two, as the Warriors second unit blew past Clutch City in the second quarter and never really looked back.
The game opened up fast, as the starters traded hay-makers like they were a Rocky IV montage (which I may have watched this afternoon). It was clear from before the tip off that the Rockets players considered this an important game against a playoff rival. But once the substitutes came in, it was clear that the Warriors' bench is still the league's deepest and best backup unit. The backups opened up a 13-point halftime advantage that allowed Curry, saddled with three fouls, to get an extended break (to the potential detriment of his MVP campaign).
The Warriors largely coasted from there, as the lead gradually swelled. Outside of a massive contingent of Warriors fans, tonight's action felt a lot like last season's stress-free, blowout-full Championship run. Two down, 80 to go.
Many pundits picked Houston as a major challenger for the Warriors in the west, thanks to the addition of Ty Lawson. But he wasn't quite the terror we've come to know and respect, registering 11 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists.
The new-look back court will clearly take some time to figure things out, as the team is already 0-2 with two blowout home losses. Hardened analytics nerds and couch coaches alike could have predicted some defensive shortcomings with a Lawson-Harden lineup, but it has been the offense that has failed Houston in each loss. After shooting a meager 34.5% from the field against Denver (22.9% from three), the Rockets were just 36.6% against the Warriors (21.7% from three).
James Harden got the worst of it, as he finished with 16 points on 4-of-18 shooting (with a game-worst -22 plus-minus, per ESPN.com). The Warriors kept to their postseason playbook, forcing Harden to attempt contested, unassisted one-on-one jumpers from mid-range or beyond.
On the other end, the Warriors got contributions from almost everyone on the roster. As Jim Barnett pointed out, Festus Ezeli outplayed Dwight Howard, straight up. Stephen Curry casually dropped 25-7-6 on 9-of-15 shooting. Draymond put up 9-7-7 with two steals for good measure. Marreese Speights and Andre Iguodala combined for 26 points and 10 rebounds. And Harrison Barnes had a solid bounce back game, with 12 points, 5 boards and an absolute poster dunk over Dwight Howard in the second quarter.
Despite missing Andrew Bogut (concussion), the Warriors had no hiccups defensively. It might be safe to say that the reports of Golden State's demise were greatly exaggerated.
Assorted observations...I'm really not feeling Ros Gold-Onwude as a blonde. Though I suppose you could say it's gold for her name, the Warriors, or the Championship ring. Second round rookie Montrezl Harrell was incredibly active, making a great case to be the long term starter at power forward -- like Draymond Green to Tom Izzo, when a hall of fame coach has a favorite player, you should draft him in the second round. I heard rumors that the Rockets are being sponsored by Checkers Restaurants (those jerseys weren't pretty to look at), but I couldn't confirm this with a second source as of writing this. Steve Kerr had a spinal fluid leak which can cause debilitating head aches, but it was clear that Kevin McHale has a bigger headache right now.