The Golden State Warriors started their first back-to-back of the season with a comfortable 120-107 win over the Houston Rockets on Sunday. Golden State solidified their place at the top of the NBA standings, improving to 8-1. To cap off the night, head coach Steve Kerr rested Stephen Curry and Draymond Green for the entire fourth quarter.
The Dubs jumped out to a 17-8 lead, but Houston worked their way back into it. While the Rockets have been one of the worst teams in the NBA this season, they have excelled pushing the pace and drawing fouls. That kept them in the game for the first 2.5 quarters.
Both teams combined to shoot 37 free throws in the first half, and the Rockets took advantage of the referees’ quick whistles. Green, Curry, Jordan Poole, and Gary Payton II all had three fouls before halftime.
Poole led the Warriors offense early. After Andre Iguodala commented on Poole’s dearth of free throws in his postgame press conference on Friday, it seemed like Poole made a point of getting to the line. He attacked the hoop and had nine free throws in the first half. Poole had 20 points on just seven field-goal attempts in the first half, leading the Dubs to a 69-61 halftime lead.
With Golden State resting Iguodala, Payton was one of several reserves who stepped up. He finished with a game-best +27 plus/minus alongside 10 points, three rebounds, three assists, and four steals. He even got on the other side of an alley-oop, tossing one up to Andrew Wiggins, who finished with 16 points and three rebounds.
Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter Jr’s three-point shooting helped generate explosive offensive runs (Porter in the second quarter, Bjelica in the third). The two veteran shooters were 8-for-10 from three and scored 24 points in 30 combined minutes.
Houston kept the game close into the third quarter, but once again, Payton seemed to immediately change the game when he reentered, sparking a 20-2 run that stretched the lead to 21. Payton recorded a steal, assist, and finished another impressive alley-oop at one point in the sequence.
Not to be outdone by the bench, Stephen Curry finished 8-for-16 from the field (4-for-11 from three) with 20 points in 26 minutes. It was another good but unexceptional performance from the Warriors star guard. The rest of the NBA cannot explain Golden State’s hot start away by pointing to a couple of players on unsustainable streaks. This team is good from top to bottom.
The Warriors blowout win enabled head coach Steve Kerr to keep everyone’s playing time under 30 minutes, setting them up well for their game tomorrow at 7:00 pm PST against TraeYoung and the Atlanta Hawks (4-6).
No postgame Twitch stream tonight.
This atrocious performance by the 49ers means I'll be doing some extra work tonight. Sadly that means no time for a Warriors/Rockets postgame stream @unstoppablebaby. Don't worry #DubsNation, I'll be back after Golden State takes on the Hawks tomorrow to recap the back-to-back.— Marc Delucchi (@maddelucchi) November 8, 2021