Sunday’s 127-120 victory over the Houston Rockets was the result of the Golden State Warriors comeback after blowing an early 18-point lead. The first road victory for Golden State in 2022–23 can be summarised in three ways.
3 Warriors takeaways from tough win over Rockets
The floodgates for Klay Thompson finally opened. Here is what Thompson wrote on Instagram after the Warriors’ November 13 away defeat to the Sacramento Kings.
Klay Thompson just posted this message on his Instagram story: My belief is stronger than your doubt I PROMISE you it s coming. And when it does the flood gates will open
— Kylen Mills (@KylenMills) November 14, 2022
After switching up his offensive strategy in Golden State’s victory over the New York Knicks on Friday, Thompson’s unshakeable confidence finally paid off a week later. Against Houston, he erupted for 20 first-quarter points on 7-of-9 shooting and four three-pointers made.
Exactly as energizing? The game’s natural flow was interrupted by Thompson’s outburst. Not only were all of his threes open, but they also all came off the grab with his feet planted in perfect rhythm. When the Rockets were in rotation, he made additional passes, one of which found Andrew Wiggins for an uncontested dunk. He also completed three rim shots, none of which were uncontested, which is encouraging for a player who has had difficulty around the basket the whole season.
Thompson only “forced” anything early once, after his first six shots had already tickled the twine, resulting in two heat checks on consecutive possessions.
Although Thompson wasn’t quite as hot for the rest of the game, he still played with greater offensive aggression. With two seconds remaining in the third quarter, his quick-hitting wing three broke a tie and allowed Golden State to seize control in the crucial moments. How did that occur? When the Warriors needed him the most, vintage Klay made a comeback.
Some of Thompson’s toughest shots of the season were those first two. I’m crossing my fingers that his career-high 41 points on 10-of-13 shooting prove to be a sign of future consistency.
The second quarter was a complete failure. The first quarter of the Warriors’ game versus Houston saw them lose some of their 11-0 lead. Even so, by the time it was through, they had a season-high 40 points and were clearly headed for a victory. They also had a double-digit lead over the Rockets.
The game then abruptly changed as the second quarter got underway.
Jordan Poole, Donte DiVincenzo, Jonathan Kuminga, Anthony Lamb, and Kevon Looney made up the starting five, but they were utterly outmatched on both ends. In the second quarter, Golden State’s first six possessions were as follows: missed three, missed three, turnover, turnover, missed runner, turnover.
They didn’t play cohesively or consistently on offense, which allowed Houston to launch its transitional attack. Unsurprisingly, the Warriors couldn’t stop fouling as well, sending the Rockets to the line repeatedly for free points.
Due to this imprecise offense, Houston scored the first 13 points of the period, taking advantage of it with high-flying finishes and long-range bombs.
The advantage and momentum that his team had gained after a strong start had already been lost by the time Steve Kerr called timeout just over two minutes into the second half.
Even when the Warriors reduced the Rockets’ advantage, Golden State’s regulars were unable to exactly right the ship before halftime, swapping buckets with Houston in a section of the game that resembled pickup basketball. This undoubtedly infuriated Kerr. They ended up down by five points at halftime after being outscored 37-20 in the second quarter.
Although Golden State’s difficulties were extensive, their poor performance alone shouldn’t have come as a surprise. According to NBA.com/stats, the defending champions had a -7.3 net rating in the second quarter going into Sunday’s game, placing them 25th in the league.
The Warriors have stayed with the same lineup for the past several games in an effort to preserve the outstanding play of their starters. It may be time for Kerr to revisit his rotational plan after benching Lamb and Kuminga immediately following the break.
Golden State’s opening second-quarter squad just isn’t adequate on either end, at least not until Poole snaps out of his malaise.
Possibly the worst basketball team in Houston. The Warriors’ worst loss in a string of demoralizing losses to start the season would have been anything less than their first victory on the road.
For a club like Golden State, however, results come first, and another poor defensive performance away from Chase Center all but doomed the defending champions.
According to NBA.com/stats, the Warriors entered this game with a road defensive rating of 120.8, which was second-to-last in the league. On Sunday, they behaved accordingly, playing sloppy transition defense, fouling way too frequently, and generally showing little engagement.
After rash close-outs, Draymond Green was repeatedly beaten off the dribble. Thompson anticipated a dribble hand-off, but it never occurred, making room for a simple dunk by KJ Martin. Eric Gordon torched Kevon Looney off the dribble. Following a successful three-point attempt by the Warriors, Andrew Wiggins fouled Kevin Porter Jr.
With how simple Golden State made the game for them on Sunday, you would have hardly guessed that the Rockets have the fourth-worst offense in basketball. Such a defensive effort will not be adequate against even average teams, much fewer championship contenders.
Count on Kerr to inform his squad about it. For now, just give thanks to the basketball gods that the Warriors’ 24-of-47 three-point shooting kept them from suffering a humiliating defeat.