OAKLAND — With five games scheduled this week in the already-packed NBA schedule, a good week can push the Warriors back into playoff contention and a bad week can bury them.
They’re not back in the playoff mix yet, but they started the week off right with a 106-97 win over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night at Oracle Arena.
The key was a 15-point Houston second quarter in which the Rockets went scoreless for more than five minutes, spurring a 13-0 Golden State run that turned a 29-23 first-quarter deficit into a 48-44 Warriors (10-14) lead at the break.
“We are just covering each other’s back — scrapping, intensity,” said Warriors guard Monta Ellis, who scored a game-high 33 points on 13-of-23 shooting. “We’re really ready to turn this around. Right now, it’s a great opportunity for us. We are trying to get back to .500 before we get to the All-Star break and put ourselves in a great position.”
The Rockets (16-12) tied the game twice in the third quarter, but never got the lead back.
“We had plenty of opportunities in that game,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “We had 19 turnovers and we just weren’t sharp prior to that.”
Ellis was dynamic on the offensive end and scored in nearly every way imaginable, but the biggest scoring threat for the Warriors was beyond the 3-point arc.
Golden State shot just over 54 percent from 3-point range, led by a 4-of-6 shooting night from rookie guard Klay Thompson, who scored 14 points off the bench.
“It’s almost impossible to defend us [when we are shooting well],” Thompson said. “We have so many guys who can score and who are such good shooters on this team. As long as we keep doing that, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
Stephen Curry added 15 points and was 3-of-6 shooting from 3-point range and Brandon Rush was 2-of-3 from behind the arc to finish with 10 points off the bench.
“We have shooters that are very comfortable and confident with shooting the 3-point basketball,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “I’m a guy that fully understands the weapon that it can be, and I like the way we’ve used it.”
The Warriors didn’t ignore the lane either and outscored the Rockets 36-26 in the paint, led by 15 points, 13 rebounds and six assists from forward David Lee, his 13th double-double of the season.
On the defensive end, the Warriors largely defended the Rockets well, but the outlier was Houston guard Kevin Martin, who scored a team-high 28 points while shooting 5-of-11 from 3-point range. Martin came into the game averaging 18 points per game, but had scored just 16 points combined in his four games prior.