Warriors end road hex with win over Rockets but aren't satisfied


The 2023 Rockets aren’t the 2018 Rockets.

Five years ago, James Harden and Chris Paul led Houston to a 65-17 finish in the regular season and the top seed in the West. Eventually they were ousted by the Warriors in a tense Western Conference Finals. A 35-point Game 6 Klay performance was necessary to stretch the series to seven games before the Warriors eventually closed it out.

The Rockets entered Monday night’s matchup against the Warriors with the Western Conference’s worst record, but Golden State felt like its back was against the wall. That’s what happens when you’ve lost 11 straight road games.

The Warriors ultimately fended off a fourth-quarter push from the upstart Rockets, temporarily ending their road hex with a 121-108 victory. After the game, 95.7 The Game’s Tim Roye asked Steph Curry what it felt like to get a road win.

“What’s that?” Curry joked. “I don’t know what that is.”

Despite the Rockets being cellar dwellers, Klay Thompson said he got up for the game by pretending he was facing those talented Houston teams of the past.

“We didn’t look at their record,” Thompson told NBC Sports Bay Area. “I actually told myself I’m pretending to play the 2018 Rockets, where it was a battle every time we used to play those guys.”

Five years later, Klay, Steph and Draymond Green still have fond memories of those battles. On the contrary, Kerr forgot the last time the Warriors won a road game, coming on Jan. 30 in Oklahoma City.

“It’s been a long time,” Kerr said. “I don’t remember the last road game we won. It’s been a while.”

“January 30,” a reporter told him.

“January 30? Thanks, that doesn’t make me feel any better,” Kerr joked.

Another way to look at it? The 49ers were beaten by the Eagles in the NFC Championship on Jan. 30. Yeah. It’s been a long time.

For the first time since the All-Star break, the Warriors held a lead going into the second quarter of a road game. Both teams were turnover-happy, which was to be expected from the league leaders in giveaways. The Warriors were able to overcome a cold shooting from distance (7-of-20) and committed 14 turnovers in the first half. They likely can’t keep playing this way and win in the postseason against superior competition.

“Our focus level was pathetic to start the game,” Green said. “We were really careless with the ball. We were able to lock in. Coach challenged us coming out of the half and we were able to lock in after those first couple minutes of the third quarter.”

The Warriors turned a four-point lead into a 13-point lead within the first 4:16 of the fourth quarter to take control of the game, as they got 30 points from Steph and 29 from Klay.

After the game, Kerr said the combination of Draymond, Kuminga and Anthony Lamb helped the Warriors steady the pace against the athletic, talented Rockets squad to begin the final period.

“We started switching everything,” Kerr said. “Really good three-man combo defensively and we strung together a bunch of stops and that gave us the lead.”

Jonathan Kuminga was very efficient and impactful with his 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting while Jordan Poole continued to struggle, going 1-of-8 from the field for five points with eight assists. Poole’s head also collided with Steph’s lower right leg during a sequence in the third quarter but Curry returned in the fourth quarter and told reporters he was “fine” after the game.

At 37-36, the No. 6 seed Warriors still find themselves on the bubble of the play-in tournament, holding a slim 0.5-game lead over the No. 7 seed Mavericks. Wednesday’s matchup in Dallas – the Warriors’ first against the Kyrie-Luka duo – will surely have a playoff feel with just nine games left in the regular season.

“It’s good to get a win,” Green said. “I don’t necessarily view it as getting over the hump. We won one game, we need to go win the next one.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images