Rockets-Warriors Preview

The Golden State Warriors have developed a trend of slow starts,

though their explosive offense has bailed them out late.

That wasn’t the case against the Houston Rockets, who bottled

them up in a lopsided result last week.

Golden State will look for a quicker start Friday night when it

tries to avenge its worst loss of the season against Houston.

The Warriors (13-10) have been outscored by an average of 11.6

points in the first halves of their last five games, scoring just

43.8 per contest in the first two quarters. However, they’re 3-2 in

that span, including Wednesday’s 95-93 home win over Dallas. They

trailed by as many as 18 late in the second quarter before Steph

Curry took over late. He scored 16 of his 33 points in the final

period, including the go-ahead jumper with three seconds

remaining.

“He’s a great player and an all-time great shooter,” coach Mark

Jackson said of Curry, who also had 10 assists. “I’ve seen Steph

Curry every single day take that shot hundreds and hundreds of

times, thousands of times, so when the curtains open up you expect

it to go in.”

Golden State, which is 7-2 at home, hasn’t always been able to

recover from its early deficits, however. The Warriors trailed

61-37 at halftime of their 105-83 defeat at Houston on Dec. 6,

their 18th loss in the last 21 meetings.

Jackson’s club shot a season-low 35.5 percent from the field

while the Rockets blocked nine shots and had a season-high 14

steals. Curry scored 22 but was 5 of 14 from the field and

accounted for eight of his team’s 22 turnovers.

“We have to stop,” forward Draymond Green said. “We can’t

continue to get behind like that and continue to try and come back

and win.”

The Rockets (15-8) won’t be fresh after dropping their second

straight road game, 111-104 in Portland on Thursday. However,

they’re 4-1 on the second night of back-to-backs this season.

They were without coach Kevin McHale, who has left the team to

mourn the death of his mother after she passed away on Tuesday.

Assistant Kelvin Sampson will guide the team for the second

straight game.

Dwight Howard finished with 32 points – one shy of his season

high – and 17 rebounds, but Houston gave up a 52-48 rebounding

advantage and allowed 15 offensive rebounds for the second straight

contest. It marked just the fifth time the Rockets – who own the

league’s best rebounding margin at plus-6.3 – have been

outrebounded.

“They made some big plays down the stretch,” Howard said. “It

seemed like every time we would close the gap, they came down and

got a great shot. This was big for them.”

Houston’s second-leading rebounder, Omer Asik (6.8 rpg), missed

his fourth straight contest with a bruised right thigh.

James Harden, who scored 34 points on 13-of-22 shooting in last

week’s win, is averaging 28.0 points over his last six contests.

Howard had 22 points and 18 rebounds against the Warriors.

Andre Iguodala is expected to miss his 11th straight game for

Golden State due to a strained left hamstring. Jermaine O’Neal is

scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist Friday

that may be season-ending.