OAKLAND — Steve Kerr hasn’t been happy with a couple habits his team has fallen into lately. Namely, the Warriors are turning the ball over too much and relaxing on defense.
And with the Houston Rockets — owners of a top-five offense and a fast-paced style — in town, Thursday would’ve been an opportune time to clamp down on those tendencies.
“Especially in a game like tonight,” Kerr warned before the game, “where if you have that many turnovers and they get out and run, and they have all those guys shooting threes, you are asking for trouble.”
Instead, the Dubs maintained their current trajectory, determined to outgun the visitors. It resulted in some head rubbing for assistant coach Ron Adams, the team’s defensive guru, in the first half and some scorer’s-table slapping from Kerr later in the game. And when it was over, the Warriors had lost their second home game of the season, this time in double overtime, 132-127.
Even though the coach couldn’t be happy about the team’s continued “slippage,” as he termed it at Wednesday’s practice, he had to be content with the Dubs’ resolve that allowed them to fight to the end of two overtimes against a much improved Rockets team.
James Harden logged his fourth triple-double of the young season with 29 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists. He also received the first Draymond Green wayward leg of the season in the second overtime. Ryan Anderson scored eight points — including two backbreaking corner 3-pointers — in the final two minutes of regulation to keep the Rockets alive. And, the resurgent Eric Gordon scored 23 points, including a huge runner in traffic that iced the game after Harden made both free throws for Green’s flagrant foul.
Gordon, Anderson and head coach Mike D’Antoni are all new to Houston this year. Before the game, D’Antoni said he was spending the early part of the season making sure his players could feel at ease in his system.
“I don’t think players can think a whole lot and play well,” he said. “It’s mostly reactive. Once they get into a situation where it’s comfortable.”
The Warriors waited too long to make them uncomfortable and it cost them on this night. And in December, that’s OK.
“It’s easy to execute when you are winning by a lot of points,” Kerr said with a thankful tone for the close game. “Under pressure with a tough game you have to be able to execute better than we did. That’s on us and our staff to do a better job of getting our guys into some things that they will be able to be comfortable with down the stretch.”
This game should serve as a reminder that even though they have one of the best offenses in recent memory, but basketball remains a game that’s played on both ends of the floor. And when you’re an scoring-first team, you can’t afford stretches like they had at the end of the game.
“Offense wasn’t moving,” Green said. “[Kevin Durant] took all the tough shots and it wasn’t his fault. Everybody else stood and watched him play. I don’t think it was necessarily tired. Every shot he took in overtime was contested because we watched everything.”
At this time of year, learning your limitations is more important than winning games, because the Dubs won’t have to worry about the latter. It’s the former that needs to be addressed before the contests start to count.