The Warriors blasted out of the gates Tuesday night at Oracle, hanging an impressive 42 points on the visiting Houston Rockets in the first quarter (shooting 68% from the field). Sitting on a 15-point advantage thanks to a 7-of-8 start from Stephen Curry, it looked like an easy victory for Golden State.
James Harden and the Rox channeled their inner Lee Corso in shaking off the slow start, and returned fire with a 39-point quarter of their own to pull within three. Thanks to hot three-point shooting from Harden and Trevor Ariza, Houston made a game of it, and even took a lead in the early third quarter. It was a surprising response from a team that had seemed finished just minutes earlier: the H-Town defense was active and scrappy, Dwight Howard was vacuuming rebounds, and Harden was getting to the free throw line (when he wasn't drilling shots from distance).
It was like Saturday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder all over again, as an impressive start gave way to a depressing let down quarter. But unlike the Thunder, who could never get over the hump, the Rockets had a lead and were playing inspired ball. The teams would trade buckets all the way to the third quarter buzzer, ending the frame 93-93.
Then the fourth quarter started -- winning time. And as with the Thunder on Super Saturday, an opponent was unable to stay with the Dubs for the full 48. Golden State ran roughshod over Houston, despite generous rest for Stephen Curry. The home team won the frame 30-17, providing all the margin of victory it needed. Despite underwhelming performances from all-stars Klay Thompson (5-of-19 shooting), and a non-triple-double from Draymond Green (what are they paying you for, anyway?), GSW got enough help from Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Marreese Speights to support Curry. Final score: 123-110.
That final score will look nice and sparkly in the morning, but the defense continues to show signs of weakness. The Warriors remain a great defensive team on paper, and their metrics usually look terrific over the course of a game. But good teams are consistently finding success against their defense at times, and they seem to require more and more points to put teams away. With a number of upper-class playoff teams on the schedule ahead, it would be nice to see a dominant performance from the defense.
But we're nit-picking, now.
With the win, the Dubs rack up their 42nd straight home win (remember, there are only 41 home games in a season!). More importantly, the Golden State Warriors own the best start in the storied history of the National Basketball Association, with a ridiculous 47-4 record. I'm not sure a 78-4 record would be enough to silence GSW's (old and crotchety) doubters anymore, but at least it would be a heckuva accomplishment. And uh: it's still in play.
Next: buckle up for the Phoenix Suns, Wednesday. It's our last chance to catch the team before the 2016 NBA All-Star weekend in Toronto.