Warriors-Rockets Preview

Golden State’s defense hadn’t been much of a concern while the Warriors were scoring at a remarkable rate during their record string of blowout victories.

That’ll likely change coming off their worst defensive effort of the season.

After their eight-game win streak ended, the Warriors will look to tighten things up Saturday night and deny the Houston Rockets a fifth consecutive home victory.

The NBA-leading Warriors (31-6) had been playing well defensively, giving up 96.1 points per game – two fewer than their season mark – on 41.7 percent shooting over a team-record eight straight double-digit wins.

Golden State, however, couldn’t continue that trend Friday in the opener of a difficult two-game trip, allowing Oklahoma City to score 98 through three quarters and shoot 52.6 percent overall in a 127-115 loss.

The defeat marked a season worst in points allowed for the Warriors, who have now given up 112.3 per game over their last six on the road.

"I’m not disappointed with our effort, but our focus just wasn’t what it was these last eight games when we were winning," coach Steve Kerr said after his team lost for the fourth time in its last five away from home.

Golden State might have a difficult time returning to form against Houston, which has averaged 112.7 points and shot 48.6 percent – including a 40.2 mark from beyond the arc – in its last three contests.

The Rockets went 16 of 36 (44.4 percent) from 3-point range in a 112-101 win over the Thunder on Thursday for their season-high fourth consecutive victory at Toyota Center.

League scoring leader James Harden had 31 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds while going 6 for 8 from long range, and Trevor Ariza scored 17 as Houston (28-12) never looked back after building a 40-18 advantage through one quarter.

Harden has scored 33.7 per game and made 28 of 50 from beyond the arc over his last six at home, while Ariza has gone 18 for 39 from long range to help the Rockets win five of their last six overall.

"That’s the beauty of this thing," Harden said. "We could be so good, but at times we have mental lapses where we let teams get comfortable."

Harden scored 34 in a 105-93 loss at Golden State on Dec. 10 after he had 22 on 8-of-24 shooting in a 98-87 home defeat Nov. 8.

The Rockets have struggled with a 38.1 overall field-goal percentage and 24.7 mark from beyond the arc in the two meetings. Ariza has totaled 25 points while going just 8 for 31 from the field against the Warriors.

Houston, though, has allowed just 86.3 points per game and a 28.4 3-point percentage while winning by an average of 20.2 during its run at home. The Rockets also have forced the Warriors into 20.5 turnovers per game and a combined 17-for-51 (33.3 percent) performance from 3-point range.

Golden State has been on a roll heading into this meeting, averaging 116.6 points and shooting 43.6 percent from long range over its last eight. Klay Thompson scored 32, Marreese Speights had 20 and Stephen Curry added 19 in Friday’s defeat.

Curry has averaged 26.3 points while sinking 14 of 22 from 3-point range in three straight wins over the Rockets. Thompson, however, has totaled 16 points on 5-of-26 shooting in his last two visits to Houston.

Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut are expected to return after resting Friday.