The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets fall to Golden State 116-103
This is a bad loss for the Rockets - there's no getting around it. Losing to a Warriors' squad without Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on Christmas Day is about as embarrassing a loss as you're going to get in the NBA. It wasn't just that Houston lost - it was the manner in which they lost.
This game boiled down to a couple things: the Rockets' failing to respond to the Warriors' doubling and trapping James Harden and Houston's poor defensive effort. The Rockets have seen double teams all year so there's no reason for them to be frazzled by it at this point in the season. However, Russell Westbrook could not seem to get it going in the first half (6 of 17 from the field and 0 of 3 from three-point range) and the Rockets simply could not hit shots. James Harden shot 6 of 10 from three-point range, but everyone else combined for 10 of 41.
Houston's defense was also porous all game, particularly Clint Capela. Capela's rim-protection was about as bad as you're going to find and as a result, only played 29 minutes. He ended the game a -20 and the Rockets quickly shifted to their lineups with P.J. Tucker at center. Even with Tucker at center, the Rockets still couldn't get it together defensively and as a result, the Warriors made them pay with their fourth quarter run.
Star of the game: James Harden is probably the only Rocket that played well tonight. Harden logged 24 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals on 9 of 18 shooting from the field and 6 of 10 shooting from three-point range. However, Harden could only attempt 18 field goals because of the Warriors' aggressive trapping and doubling scheme.
Honorable mention: This is a rough. I suppose you can say Russell Westbrook played the least bad among the non-Harden Rockets'? Westbrook had 30 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists on 11 of 32 shooting from the field, 0 of 8 from three-point range, and 8 of 8 from the free throw line. This game ends the high efficiency streak Westbrook has been on for the prior 7 games.
Key moment: The fourth quarter is really where the Rockets let go of the rope. Usually in a game like this, the underdog team is going to make a run at some point in the game and for the Warriors, that was the 3rd quarter. It is up for a team like Houston to take the onus upon themselves and respond big in the fourth quarter. However, the Rockets folded. They let their poor defensive habits carry over into the fourth (113.6 defensive rating tonight) and they couldn't knock down open shots. The Warriors outscored the Rockets' 24-17 and Houston could not buy an open jumper if it was free.
Up next: The Rockets return home to Houston at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday to play the Brooklyn Nets.