HOUSTON -- Buoyed by the sharpshooting of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Golden State Warriors fended off a desperate Rockets rally to claim a critical 108-78 win on Sunday night at Toyota Center.
Curry and Thompson combined for 55 points thanks largely to 14-for-20 3-point shooting as Golden State (38-30) maintained its grasp on sixth place in the Western Conference standings. Curry and Thompson were especially clutch in the third quarter, thwarting the Rockets (36-31) several times to stall what was developing into a riveting comeback.
After the Rockets opened the second half with a 26-8 run in less than eight minutes, Thompson drilled a 17-foot jumper to stretch the lead to 64-57. What followed was perhaps the most vital sequence for the Warriors, as Rockets guard James Harden bypassed a contested 3-pointer and then followed with an errant pass to center Omer Asik.
Curry drilled a 3 on the other end, and Thompson followed with his fourth trey of the night to stretch the Warriors' lead to 70-57. Had Harden sank that 3 the Rockets would have trailed 64-60. Instead, the Warriors entered the fourth quarter up 75-60 and were never again threatened, avoiding the series season sweep after three earlier losses.
Golden State had dropped nine of 10 road games, starting with a dismal 140-109 loss in Houston on Feb. 5. Center Andrew Bogut (12 points and 12 rebounds) supported Curry (29 points) and Thompson (26 points).
In their first win over the Warriors the Rockets matched an NBA record with 23 3-pointers and set a season high of 77 first-half points. In the season series finale they scored a season-low 31 first-half points while shooting a miserable 19.6 percent. Houston missed its first eight treys and finished 2-for-16 from behind the arc in the first half. Conversely, the Rockets drilled four 3-pointers by the midpoint of the third quarter.
Harden and Jeremy Lin paced the Rockets with 21 points apiece. Harden added 10 rebounds and eight assists while Lin chipped in four assists.
NOTES: Consider Rockets coach Kevin McHale an admirer of the Miami Heat and their winning streak, which reached 22 games on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors. Miami matched the 2007-08 Rockets for the second-longest winning streak in NBA history behind the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, who won 33 consecutive games en route to the NBA title that season. "What they're doing is very, very impressive," McHale said. "Yeah having the best player on the planet helps, too, because LeBron (James) is just phenomenal. But still everyone else has got to bring it. They've got a nice symmetry going. It'll be interesting to see what happens with the streak. It captures your attention." ... The Warriors closed January with a 14-11 record on the road, a significant reason behind their reaching the 30-win plateau faster than in any season since 1975-76. They have dropped nine of their last 10 games away from Oracle Arena in advance of a three-game swing through Houston, New Orleans and San Antonio. "It's part of the way we've been struggling," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "We haven't defended at the same level overall. We've played some better basketball teams and we haven't played our best basketball."