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Golden State fans should be thankful for the Rockets

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Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) steals the ball from Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on October 17, 2017. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Spring is my favorite season for many reasons.

For one, the new league year in the NFL is around the corner, which means free agency and the NFL Draft is around the corner.

Two, the NBA playoffs are near and before you know it, we’ll be going ballistic over Opening Day as baseball re-enters our lives for the next seven months.

So I’m a happy camper these days, especially after watching the Houston Rockets win 14 games in a row.

It’s an impressive streak — one that includes a victory in Denver and Utah on back-to-back nights. Houston remains a half-game up on the Golden State Warriors for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, and the Rockets’ chirping at the reigning champs has me smiling from ear-to-ear.

We’ve always known the Rockets — led by general manager Daryl Morey — to be obsessed with the Warriors, and now, in league circles, they’re telling anybody who listens that they’re better than the defending champions. And that’s thanks to Michael Wilbon.

Look, I’m not mad at the confidence oozing from their bodies. The Rockets should be feeling themselves, but what their talking has done is wake up a sleeping giant.

The Warriors have noticed, including Draymond Green, who’s response to all the hoopla about the Rockets produced a classic response from the Defensive Player of the Year:

“It’s been highly publicized that team is designed to beat us,” said Green during a sit down with Sports Illustrated’s “The Crossover.” “Noted. Great. We’ll see y’all soon.”

I absolutely love it. The NBA needs teams to not like each other. That’s what was so great about the 70s, 80s and 90s — teams absolutely despised each other.

And just like Oklahoma City, Houston has developed a disdain for everything Warrior related. That’s totally fine by me. Give me all the hate, trash talk and cheap shots come playoff time. Push these Warriors. Please.

James Harden, who will claim his first MVP award after the Finals, said “it was our year.” OK. The moment of truth will come for the Rockets real soon. I just want to wish them good luck against a Warriors team that hasn’t come close to peaking yet.

Quick thoughts on the 49ers

The NFL Combine is in full swing this weekend in Indianapolis, and the 49ers will be picking 9th or 10th in April. That’s a great position to draft a solid football player.

They might as well start looking to replace Carlos Hyde as their lead back. He’s a free agent and is looking to get paid.

He’s a good back who improved his route running and caught over 59 passes last season for the 49ers. But this draft class is loaded with talented running backs, and it simply isn’t in the DNA of a Shanahan to overpay for a running back.

Running backs in the NFL don’t get offered long-term deals. Just look in Pittsburgh, where the best running back in football, Le’Veon Bell, can’t even coax the Steelers’ front office into giving him a lucrative contract.

The 49ers have plenty of needs, but Hyde simply isn’t one of them. El Guapo is a fine running back, but it’s time to move on.

Bonta Hill of 95.7 The Game can be heard from 12-3 on the Greg Papa Show. Born and bred in San Francisco, he is a sports junkie who loves to sit in the lab (home), eats breakfast food for dinner, and has a newfound love for tequila. Follow at your own risk on Twitter @BontaHill.

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