3 takeaways from the Warriors’ win over the Rockets
After losing the first three matchups of the season series, the Golden State Warriors won the final regular-season matchup against the Houston Rockets, 106-104, in a game played without Kevin Durant due to an ankle contusion. Here are three takeaways from the contest.
1. DeMarcus Cousins and his bully-ball style
If the Warriors and Rockets do meet again in the playoffs, DeMarcus Cousins will be an X-factor.
Cousins had a season-high 27 points on 11-of-16 from the field, and he provided the supplementary scoring without Durant on the floor. He also punished the Rockets in the post on the offensive end and used his size and strength to overpower defenders:
In addition to his scoring, Cousins’ post passing was dynamite. Early in the game, he found many cutters, including Curry and Thompson, for layups. The big man racked up seven assists.
As Thompson noted postgame:
“This was probably the most complete game since he’s been here,” Thompson said of Cousins’ breakout game.
Cousins has had his struggles with the Warriors, but Wednesday’s game showed how he can make an impact when he’s playing well.
2. Kevon Looney’s hustle and activity
Center Kevon Looney is second on the totem pole of big men in Steve Kerr’s rotation behind Cousins, but the coach has developed quite a bit of trust in the youngster. While Looney was a minus-5 in this game, the Milwaukee native made a noticeable impact with five offensive boards in his 16 minutes on the floor.
Looney finished the game with six points, six rebounds, one steal, one assist and one block. Additionally, in the times he got switched on James Harden and Chris Paul, he held his own, just like he did against them in the Western Conference Finals last season. If the Warriors and Rockets meet in the playoffs again this season, expect Looney to play a big role.
Here is a clip of Looney defending Harden on a switch early in the first quarter:
Notice how Looney didn’t bite on any of the ball fakes or head fakes. He stayed in his defensive stance and moved his feet to cut off Harden, then continued to stick with the reigning MVP beautifully to contest the step-back jumper.
Here is another clip of Looney’s defense against the Rockets on Wednesday night. This time Looney offered up some stellar help defense, rotating over to block Harden’s layup attempt:
After Andre Iguodala got beat off the dribble by Harden, Looney rotated over to swat the shot. P.J. Tucker’s tip failed to go down, leading to a Stephen Curry fast break the other way and ultimately resulting in a Klay Thompson 3-pointer.
3. Stephen Curry is still struggling from 3
On the night, Curry finished with 24 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals. However, he only shot 8-of-20 from the field, including 3-of-9 from beyond the arc, continuing a stretch of substandard shooting for the two-time MVP.
Since the All-Star break, Curry is shooting just 36.6 percent from 3-point range and only 33.9 percent in the month of March. Is this just a cold spell, or will this continue for the rest of the regular season and in the playoffs?
Perhaps Curry is feeling a little fatigued during the dog days of March, especially after a busy All-Star Weekend back home in Charlotte. Whatever the case may be, the Warriors are hoping he rediscovers his shot in time for the postseason. Given his track record, expect the sharpshooter to get hot again soon.