Stephen Curry missed the Golden State Warriors' 115-106 win over the Houston Rockets on Monday night, after a pregame warmup revealed his right ankle has yet to heal. Golden State responded wonderfully, with a diversified attack.
With no Curry to augment the small-ball threat, Houston started with two bigs this game, Dwight Howard and Donatas Motiejunas. With or without Curry present, it’s likely a better look than their Game 1 small-ball iteration that featured Corey Brewer and Trevor Ariza at power forward.
The Warriors began with defensive intensity that wore down in the first half as Houston shelled them from the outside. Eventually, they eroded Houston's attack.
Josh Smith and Andre Iguodala traded 3s in the second quarter, a surreal sequence that helped fill the game’s Curry void. On his third straight 3-pointer, Iguodala shrugged nonchalantly like Michael Jordan. On Iguodala's fourth straight 3-pointer (end-of-quarter full-court heave excluded), he pointed at the bench, seemingly toward Curry. While enjoying himself immensely, Iguodala was fantastic off the bench (18 points on 10 shots).
Thompson had another 3-pointer off a long offensive rebound. He’s fantastic at those. He didn’t even pause, and was leaning back a bit as he unleashed it.
James Harden punished the Warriors for reaching (15 free throw attempts).
Draymond Green used some extra effort, redirecting himself to dap Thompson for giving up the ball on Thompson's second assist. It seems Green really wants to encourage unselfishness from Thompson.
At halftime, the Warriors led 66-58 despite the Rockets going 6-for-11 on 3-pointers and having 21 free throw attempts.
Of missing Curry for a game, Iguodala said, “It’s good for us.” Iggy meant Golden State would have to focus in Curry's absence. Was it good for the Warriors? In a halftime interview, Iguodala told Warriors sideline reporter Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, "It kind of feels like playing a scrimmage in practice." Guessing he was referring to the Rockets.
Marreese Speights had a roller-coaster sequence of failure and redemption at the end of the third. He was blocked emphatically by Harden, and soon after, rushed a bad shot against a Harden contest. Then, a pretty step-back banker over Clint Capela and a subsequent corner 3-pointer out of a chaotic possession to end the quarter. In his own strange way, on a night when Curry sat, Speights might have been the most entertaining Warrior to watch.
Shaun Livingston is a steadying force, and was fantastic all around (16 points on nine shots). Maybe it’s something about the way he gets the team set in its possessions that calms the Warriors when they fall into a rut. On second thought, it was probably his automatic mid-range attack.
Howard fouled out with 4:13 left. Warriors center Andrew Bogut, who was excellent in the game, bedeviled him.
From ESPN Stats & Info: Thompson had 13 drives on Monday, three more than any game in the regular season. He was eager to attack from the start, and the Warriors needed that.