Houston Rockets – Golden State Warriors: Game 1 Thoughts


I’m not one for moral victories. I spent way too many seasons listening to former Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak’s post-game press conferences.

Thankfully, Kevin McHale didn’t say “it was on me” at the post-game press conference last night. Nor, did he put too much emphasis on the loss. After another exceptional game, even for his lofty standards, James Harden could be heard in the locker room after the game reminding anyone listening that it was “just one game.”

And what a game it was for Harden, he was the first player to have a 28-point, 11-rebound, 9-assist and 4-steal playoff game since Michael Jordan in 1989. Every one else not named Trevor Ariza? Not so much.

I commented on Twitter last night that it seemed like the Rockets Game 1 was the bizzaro Game 6 miracle versus the Los Angeles Clippers. Dwight Howard was on the bench like Harden in the 4th quarter and, unlike in Game 6, it seemed like no one wanted to help His Beardness … especially Terrence Jones.

Let’s go back and look through a quick three minute stretch, starting at the 6:00 mark of the 4th quarter, and let’s see where the game gets out-of-hand. The game is tied 95-95:

5:59 – Steph Curry misses a 3. Two Rockets defenders are under the basket. Terrence Jones doesn’t box out Draymond Green for an easy rebound. 95-97, Golden State.

5:30 – Harden jukes Klay Thompson out of his shoes for a nice 18-footer. “Stop on a dime and get nine cents change,”Mark Jackson, with an all-time line.

4:52 – After a Rockets’ blown defensive coverage leads to a lay-up on a Warriors in-bound, a double-teamed Josh Smith throws it to a wide-open Terrence Jones. Only Jones is trying to crash the boards… Turnover, Rockets. 97-99.

4:15 – Warriors miss a 3. Harden drives to the rim and gets double-teamed, blocked and the ball rolls right by Terrence Jones, who doesn’t even make a play on it!! (Note: This is where it gets bad.)

4:09 – Ariza admirably defends a Curry transition lay-up going the other way and waits for the rebound. Jones pushes Ariza out of position, fails to box-out his man and Harrison Barnes gets the put-back over TWO Rockets. 97-101, Golden State.

3:46 – Smith with a good look but misses a 3. Jones and Barnes are the only people under the basket and somehow the one inch taller, 30-pounds heavier Jones gets boxed out. Curry gets the rebound and the Warriors are off. If you’re Jones, how do you not get either of the last two rebounds? I’m getting angry… Let’s see what the Warriors do at the other end.

3:38 – Draymond Green chop blocks Ariza at the knees (TF he slips), holds Ariza (only there’s no flag whistle) and Barnes hits a wide-open, lay-up on a blown switch by Josh Smith. Which is justifiable, considering Smith’s pre-game comments about being physical and him probably weighing the pros and cons of punching Green in the face once he gets up. 97-103, Warriors.

Quick Question: Does anyone else feel like Draymond Green is just a bigger, less tattoo-ed version of a young Matt Barnes? I feel like were one lewd, Green comment towards one of Harden’s stripper GFs away from a complete brawl.

3:20 – An absolute beautiful pick-n-roll by Harden and Smith that started with a “pocket pass” back to Smith and should have ended with a Smith to Terrence Jones alley-oop. Only Jones catches it, then dribbles and tries to lay it in versus two Golden State defenders. Blocked!

3:12 – Curry pushes it the other way as Jones is the last defender up the floor. Curry hits a transition 3 as Jones runs into him in what could have easily been a 4-point play, even though Curry flopped. Jeff Van Gundy goes on to question Jones’ lack of physical self-awareness wondering why he doesn’t just take that lob for the easy bucket. I’m wondering the same. Rockets 97, Warriors 106.

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  • Let’s just go ahead and stop there because two scrambling plays lead to a Curry foul on Brewer and McHale finally replaces Jones with Jason Terry. It should go without saying that Jones doesn’t come back in. But with that said, I think Terrence Jones should easily bounce back from this game. He’s been a huge contributor since he came back in the middle of the season and I think tonight is the first time the absence of Donatas Motiejunas has hurt us. Something I haven’t seen throughout the entire playoffs.

    Hopefully, Howard can come back and look like his playoff self again. Sure, the first half Howard post-ups led to Golden State getting back in the game, but his defense inside held the Warriors’ points-in-the-paint to only two in the first half. In the second half, they had 20.

    Even if Howard isn’t able to play Game 2, I won’t be worried. The Rockets need to prepare for Game 2 as if Howard isn’t going to play, because when he rests throughout the rest of the series, the Warriors are going to attack the basket and the Rockets need to know their defensive switches and assignments.

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    I’d like to see a lot more Clint Capela and Pablo Prigioni in Game 2 as both played really solid in the first game, but combined to only play 28 minutes, with Prigioni sporting a very impressive plus/minus of +10 in only 15 minutes of play. As mentioned above, Terrence Jones and Jason Terry both had equally awful games and shooting percentages. And yet, somehow the Rockets were still able to get within two with under a minute left thanks to Trevor Ariza turning into ’09 LeBron James.

    Last night was not a moral victory. After being up 15 points and down a superstar, we gave that game away. It’s time to take Game 2 and get home court advantage. It’s Houston versus Everybody. Let’s go get it!

    Clutch City, baby.

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    Next: Recap: Warriors Edge Rockets For Game 1 Win

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