Friday night offered a better Warriors performance than some of their wins. They outrebounded the Houston Rockets 56-32, outscored them in the paint 66-40 and they finally got some significant bench contributions from Marreese Speights, who had done virtually nothing for Golden State in the first 23 games.
But the Warriors came up losers 116-112 for one simple reason: The Rockets are better than they are right now. Significantly better. They had an answer for Stephen Curry in Patrick Beverley, who slowed down Curry defensively and also did damage offensively, hitting 7 of 9 shots from the floor. Chandler Parsons was a Warrior-killer once again, scoring 23 points. Dwight Howard, despite foul trouble the entire night, delivered 18 points and 11 rebounds and made the big three-point play 2:15 to go that essentially salted the game away. James Harden, while 9 for 22, still scored 26 points with nine assists. The Rockets also got 26 points from their bench, with guys like Francisco Garcia and Omri Casspi keeping the Warriors at bay with big 3-pointers in the third quarter.
In short, the Rockets are a complete team that had too many weapons to contend with Friday night. The Warriors made a valiant run, but not only did Curry struggle against Houston’s defense, so did Klay Thompson. The Splash Brothers went 2 for 12 from beyond the arc, largely a result of strong perimeter defense by the Rockets.
So, should there there cause for alarm with the Warriors sitting ninth in the Western Conference more than a quarter of the way through the season? Not just yet. As Andrew Bogut said afterward, “Houston’s a great team. They’re going for a championship with the moves they’ve made and have two All-Star players that are potential Hall of Famers one day. Dwight’s one of the best bigs in the league. They’ve got the right tools.”
And the Warriors?
“We’re still I think trying to find how we’re built and what our roles are right now,” he said. “We’ve still got a lot of inconsistencies to everyone’s game, myself included.”
Having Andre Iguodala, obviously, would help immensely. Where would they be with him? Probably holding a record close to Houston’s at 16-8. They need that guy back, ASAP, because the Warriors just don’t have enough horses defensively to close the deal against good clubs like Houston without him. They are last year’s team, essentially, without Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry. When you look at it that way, 13-11 doesn’t actually sound so bad. They were 16-8 at this point last year, playing a much easier schedule than they’ve had so far.
The crazy thing is the Warriors would be the third-best team in the East right now, even with this stuttering start. The West is utterly ridiculous, with 10 teams over .500 and three more clubs hanging close. Only Sacramento and Utah have really put themselves out of it at this point.
With that in mind, the Warriors can’t afford feel sorry for themselves or things really could go sour. It’s going to be a grind all year, particularly with their health issues.