Warriors can’t keep up with Rockets

ORACLE ARENA — The Warriors lost a fourth quarter battle Friday as the Rockets left Oracle with their second win over Golden State this season.

Despite a heroic fourth-quarter effort by Marreese Speights the Warriors fell 116-112 to Houston.

Warriors coach Mark Jackson commented before the game on Speights’ poor performance this season. After the game, Jackson said Speights is going to have opportunities even when the team is healthy, and needs to own what he does whether or not it goes well:

“He played well tonight.  He’s got to own that fact the same way he’s owns the fact that he has not played well up to this point.”

The Warriors had looked to make up for their performance in Houston on Dec. 6 when they were blown out 105-83. They had multiple chances in the final frame to take control but never made good on those opportunities.

Warriors head coach, Mark Jackson, warned not to put much weight in the two losses to Houston, pointing out Golden State’s position in the playoffs last season:

“If you look at their record right now they are the better basketball team, but so was Denver at the end of the year last year.”

Golden State was able to keep the score close despite three first quarter fouls charged to Stephen Curry.  With swift foul trouble, Toney Douglas, Marreese Speights and Draymond Green checked in for early minutes.

Free throws by David Lee, who finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds, put the Warriors on top by one point with just seconds left in the first quarter.

But with 1.1 seconds left in the first, Warriors transition defense broke down as Harden drove on Speights for a dunk that put the Rockets on top 30-29.

Houston opened the second quarter with an 11-2 run including two open treys from Harden.  The Rockets continued their lead with spectacle shots including a step-back three from center Dwight Howard to make it 44-35.

Harden said Howard is playing phenomenally and doing everything it takes to get wins:

“His focus level is definitely at a high right now. He’s just worried about winning and that’s what we need from him.”

With 4:24 left in the second quarter Green attempted a six-foot running jumpshot, Dwight Howard went up for a block, getting away with a blatant goal-tend.  Green and the crowd were pleading for the call from the refs, but it was all for naught.

Amid “ref you suck” chants from the sellout crowd, an angry Green clotheslined Harden on the other end of the court and was charged a with flagrant-1 foul.  The Rockets maintained their lead into halftime 58-51.

On back-to-back plays with just over eight minutes left in the third, Klay Thompson and Dwight Howard both picked up their fourth personal fouls on separate offensive charges.

Less than two minutes later Curry, clobbered Casspi and was charged his fourth foul as well.  Even with his star backcourt in foul trouble, coach Mark Jackson left Curry and Thompson in the game.

With five minutes left in the third, Green hit a three pointer to bring the Warriors within four points, but Houston answered with consecutive threes from Casspi and Francisco Garcia.

The quarter came to an end with the Warriors trailing by nine, in even more foul trouble with Green committing his fifth foul, and in desperate need of a run.

Then, just when the Dubs needed it, the bigs showed up in the final quarter, sparking an 8-0 run while forcing four turnovers, and Howard to commit his fifth foul.

Speights scored 12 of his 16 points in the fourth, tying the game 87-87 with 7:35 left to play.  From that point, it was a back and forth grind to the end as the game tied four more times.

“Games like this always give you momentum.  I’ve been working hard in practice and everything, I’m just glad coach never gave up on me.”

Following the loss, Speights reached out via Twitter thanking everyone for having his back:

With just over a minute to go, Patrick Beverley hit a jumper to put the Rockets on top 105-100, and on the following Houston possession he hit another to take a seven point lead.

The Warriors were unable to recover and played the foul game before conceding to the Rockets for the second time this season.

The Warriors, now 13-11 overall, will play in Phoenix on Sunday before returning to Oracle for a three-game home stand starting Tuesday Dec. 17 against New Orleans.

Notes

The Warriors outrebounded the Rockets 56-32, the first time they’ve out rebounded their opponent by 24-plus and lost since Dec. 6 1995 vs. Orlando. … Harrison Barnes, David Lee and Andrew Bogut each recorded double-doubles. … Stephen Curry finished with 20 points and nine assists before fouling out, his career-long ninth consecutive game reaching 20-plus points. … Marreese Speights set season-highs in points (16) and rebounds (nine) in 16 minutes. … James Harden totaled a game-high 26 points to go with nine assists, for his second 25-point game of the season against the Warriors.


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