Warriors beat Rockets, improve to 72-12 for 2015
It was clear from the get-go that Thompson and Harden had a score to settle. Thompson proclaimed himself as the league's best shooting guard last week and Harden - who fashions himself as the league's best player - stormed out of the gates with two 3-pointers in the first six minutes.
Harden also goaded Thompson into two quick fouls, but the Splash Brother convinced his head coach to leave him in. Thompson rewarded that decision with four straight baskets as part of a 17-point opening frame.
With Thompson picking up the scoring slack in Curry's absence, Draymond Green assumed the reigning league MVP's role of playmaker. Green racked up 12 assists in the first half before finishing with a career-high 16 as part of a 10-point, 11-rebound triple-double effort in 38 minutes.
Green leads the league with five triple doubles this season.
The game remained close throughout, and the Warriors kept their cool despite missing four rotation players. They beat up on the Rockets' bench behind sixth man Andre Iguodala's hyper-efficient, 20-point outing (on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor). They also did a tremendous job of beating the Rockets on the offensive glass (12-4).
Houston made it a three-point game with five minutes to go after Harden dropped in a short fadeaway, but the Warriors' fourth-ranked defense clamped down and didn't allow another basket until after the game was well out of reach.
The nail in the coffin came courtesy of Harden's notoriously poor defense. Harden pounded the rock for an entire possession only to miss an awkward 21-foot step-back jumper, then failed to track back on defense which allowed Iguodala to push the lead to five after Green tossed a picture-perfect, hit-ahead pass for his 16th assist.
Golden State's victory closes the book on a near-perfect calendar year that includes a championship and a Jordan-esque 72-12 record between two regular seasons.
Their resolution for 2016? Don't change a single thing.
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