From playing clutch defense in the first overtime to kicking opposing players in the second, Draymond Green was certainly himself in the Warriors’ 132-127 loss to the Houston Rockets in double overtime.
With the game tied at 123 at the end of the first overtime, the Rockets inbounded the ball with 1.5 seconds remaining on the shot clock to Eric Gordon. Green quickly poked the ball loose from behind as the shot clock expired, sending the game into a second overtime. However, those five minutes told a different tale.
During the second overtime, in which the Warriors were trailing 126-123, Green went up to put back a Durant miss. He flailed his leg in the process which, intentionally or not, grazed James Harden on the head. The referees assessed a foul on Harden and a flagrant on Green. Green missed one free throw while Harden made both of his. With Curry having fouled out, that was the turning point that essentially ended the Warriors’ 12-game win streak.
Nevertheless, Green displayed his usual hustle defensively along with another near triple-double: 20 points, 15 rebounds and 9 assists.
Contrarily, Kevin Durant wasn’t himself — at least not in the last two minutes of regulation and in both overtime periods, in which he shot 1-8 from the field and 0-4 from long distance. Durant had 37 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks in regulation, but he disappeared when the team needed him most, perhaps due to fatigue. More likely, however, as Draymond Green pointed out, Durant simply missed tough shots due to the stagnancy of the offense.
“Offense wasn't moving. [Durant] took all tough shots. It wasn't his fault. Everyone else just stood and watched him play,” Green said to ESPN. “I don't think he was necessarily tired. I think every shot he took in overtime was contested because we were all standing there.”
Curry was limited to just 11 minutes in the first half due to early foul trouble. Two of his fouls in the first quarter came on the same possession while guarding James Harden. Curry was caught being too physical trying to battle for position, and then his hand got caught in the cookie jar on a Harden 3-point attempt.
Still, Curry came out in the second half putting on a show, including this up-and-under twisting layup after the crossover.
Steph shaking & baking Pat Beverley https://t.co/bm9HI4pBas— The Cauldron (ICYMI) (@CauldronICYMI) December 2, 2016
The All-Star point guard scored 6 points in the first overtime. But his ill-advised fouls in the first half of the game proved costly, as he picked up his sixth early in the second overtime on a charge.
The Warriors’ star players weren’t shy about launching three-pointers. Durant, Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 37 three-pointers attempted. In fact, both teams set a record for most combined 3s shot in a game — 88. The problem is the Warriors weren't hitting their shots from long range at an efficient clip (27.3%).
The Rockets got out to an explosive start, making six of their first seven shots. To shake things up, Coach Steve Kerr put in fan favorite JaVale McGee, whose otherworldly length helped defensively. McGee hedged on Harden in a pick-and-roll before deflecting Harden’s pass to Montrezl Harrell. Golden State got a steal out of it, which led to Andre Iguodala getting fouled on the fast break for two free throws. Moments later, McGee once again used his long limbs to stifle another Harden pick-and-roll, which triggered a fast-break 3 for Iguodala — putting the Warriors up 24-20 after a slow start.
McGee also showed his flaws defensively, however, as he failed to move his feet and got blown by Eric Gordon for an open layup.
Zaza Pachulia clearly isn’t the answer for Golden State at center, and McGee remains a question mark. The Rockets were able to match the Warriors’ small-ball lineup without compromising their rebounding, particularly offensively. Houston got 17 second-chance points, which inspired this tweet by Andy Glockner.
They have plenty of time to continue to gel and improve, but I don't think Golden State is untouchable in a playoff series. Size concerns.— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) December 2, 2016
The good news is that Kerr and the Warriors have plenty of time to figure out the center position. But perhaps Curry not committing silly fouls and staying in the game is a viable remedy.