Houston won the series 2-1. If both teams end the season with identical records, the Rockets would get the higher seed and home court advantage should they meet in the postseason.
“No,” Kevin Durant responded when asked if it mattered. “The season starts over when you’re in the playoffs anyway, so it doesn’t matter. You’re going to have to get through these teams to get to where you want to go. You have to play at home and on the road, so it really doesn’t matter. We just want to be playing good basketball when it comes down to that point.”
Golden State (37-10), owner of the best record in the league, now holds a 3½ game lead on Houston (32-12). After the game in the locker room, players were dismissing the narrative that they dropped a significant game.
“It’s game 40-what? Seven, eight?” Draymond Green asked during the media scrum. “Who we play on Tuesday? We just got to get ready for [New York]. Home court will take care of itself down the road.”
The Warriors went scoreless in the final three minutes of the contest and were held to 17 points in the final quarter.
“We were trying to hit home runs all night, and we can’t do that against these guys,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “On the bright side, we know we can play a lot better and we will.”
With the defending champs down three with 2:25 remaining in the game, Klay Thompson took a tough, contested and ill-advised 14-foot jumper that missed the rim altogether. Green was livid, and his frustration spilled into the timeout huddle seconds later.
While sitting on the bench, an animated Green continued voiced his displeasure with the shot selections, and Shaun Livingston stood in front of him, attempting to calm the power forward down.
“I thought we could have got a better shot then,” Green said in reference to that offensive sequence. “… It is what it is.”
Stephen Curry questioned his decision-making in the final two minutes of the game. He acknowledged that he missed Durant for a wide-open dunk to give Thompson a 3-point opportunity that clanked off the rim.
“And the same thing the play before that,” Curry said, “KD was coming off a pick-and-roll, and he was butt-naked-open at the top of the key. I made a read too soon. It was kind of just one of those night where I personally didn’t have the right vision on the floor. I have to take responsibility for that one, because it was pretty bad.”
Curry and Thompson combined to shoot 9-of-31 from the field. They finished with 19 and eight, respectively.
“Shot selection definitely could have been better; KD was open for the dunk, but Klay hits that shot very often,” Green said of the play that would have pulled the Warriors within one with 2:04 left on the clock. “So, I’m not going to look back and say, ‘Ah man we lost.’ … It is what it is. Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.”
The Warriors coughed up the ball 19 times, translating to 23 points for the Rockets. Durant registered a team-high 26 points to go with seven boards and five assists. Chris Paul had a game-high 33 points along with 11 rebounds and seven assists in 35 minutes of play.
Durant is impressed with this new Rockets squad.
“They’re very tough,” said Durant. “I really like this team, I really like their coach, they got a good home crowd. I think the difference between them last year and this year — obviously, everybody I know, everyone is going to say CP, but they’re just playing harder. I feel like they’re playing harder on the defensive side of the ball, I feel like they’ve got versatile defenders. [Clint] Capela has gotten better. It’s just more than CP. They’re doing a good job of meshing together.”
Whatever frustration the Warriors were experiencing in the closing minutes evaporated once the final buzzer sounded.
The team was ecstatic to be completing this five-game, cold-weather road trip, the final extended trip of the season. In the locker room, veteran David West asked a PR official how many games they were up on the Rockets, and when given the answer, he replied, “Yeah, we’re good.”
That’s how the Warriors felt Saturday night.