With two of the NBA's biggest stars, Kevin Durant and James Harden, sidelined by injuries, Thursday night's Warriors-Rockets showdown in Houston lost some of its luster.
But the two teams certainly weren't lacking in offensive firepower, as the Warriors beat the Rockets, 124-114.
Even though Durant just joined the Warriors last season, he's already made such an imprint on the team it seems like another era when the pre-KD Warriors won an NBA championship (in 2015). With Durant sidelined by a calf strain Thursday, the old guard arose for the Warriors (31-8). Stephen Curry led the way with 29 points, Klay Thompson chipped in 28 and Draymond Green had 17.
The Warriors are now 21-5 with Durant sidelined since he joined the team last year.
“(Durant's absence) doesn’t affect anything. They’ll do what they do,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said afterward. “They’re still the world champions without him.”
The Rockets (27-10) came into the game hitting an NBA-high 15.8 3-pointers per game, and hit 17 against the Warriors. But it took them 50 attempts to do that (the Warriors were a much more efficient 13-of-30 behind the arc).
Guard Chris Paul, who is expected to shoulder the load with Harden possibly out up to six weeks with a hamstring strain, scored 28 and dished out nine assists, but he had help. Eric Gordon scored 30 to pace the Rockets, while swingman Gerald Green, a 31-year-old veteran who had not played in the NBA this season until signing with the Rockets last week, continued his strong play in Harden's absence. Green scored 29 and knocked down 8 of 15 from beyond the arc.
Stud of the Night
Draymond Green picked up a triple-double, with 17 points, 14 boards and 10 assists, in the Warriors' win over the Rockets. The Warriors improved to 21-0 in Green's career when he records a triple-double. Only Magic Johnson's Lakers have won more consecutive games in a player's triple-doubles than the Warriors have in Green's, according to ESPN.
Duds of the Night
The Clippers: Leading after three quarters to the Thunder, Los Angeles stuggled late, missing six shots in the paint during the fourth quarter, eventually losing 127-117 in the nightcap of the NBA's two-game slate. C.J. Williams earned the start for the Clips but was a horrible minus-21 and made just three field goals in 33 minutes.
Chris Paul's ball crossover sends David West out of the game with a tweaked ankle.
Chris Paul 😳#Rockets pic.twitter.com/mY1CKr8M3f— NBA (@NBA) January 5, 2018
Clippers guard Jawun Evans thinks he has a layup, but Jerami Grant rejects the ball — right off an official's cheek.
NO EASY BUCKETS!#ThunderUp pic.twitter.com/FD0781gSZr— NBA (@NBA) January 5, 2018
Timberwolves (24-15) at Celtics (31-10) 7 p.m. ET — The No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference faces the No. 4 team in the West. Kyrie Irving and the Celtics have lived up to expectations, while the addition of guards Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague has supercharged the T-Wolves' offense.