Warriors at Rockets
Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut are both back in the lineup, and the Golden State Warriors are getting a clearer picture of what the team will look like as it heads toward the playoffs. The Warriors will test themselves with a four-game road trip beginning on Tuesday against the Houston Rockets. The Rockets have picked up their level of play over the last five games and will be a tough test for the Golden State defense.
Houston is one of the highest scoring teams in the NBA and has put up an average of 112.6 points in the last five contests. James Harden is still the leading scorer but Patrick Patterson and Chandler Parsons are beginning to give more consistent production and Omer Asik has been strong on the inside. The Warriors boast two of the best shooters in the NBA in Klay Thompson and Curry, who returned from a two-game absence to put up 29 points in a win over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (Golden State), Comcast SportsNet Houston
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (30-17): Golden State is riding a four-game winning streak but will have to face three playoff contenders in a row with Houston, Oklahoma City and Memphis making up the first three stops of the road trip. Bogut, who is returning from ankle surgery and will not play on back-to-back days until after the All-Star break, will therefore miss two of the four games during the trip. But he should be in the lineup on Tuesday, giving the Warriors a shot-blocking presence to stop Harden and company at the rim. Bogut’s presence also opens things up a bit for All-Star David Lee, who can move away from the lane and use his quickness against bigger defenders. Curry did not show any rust in the 113-93 win over Phoenix, handing out eight assists to go along with his 29 points. Curry, Thompson and Jarrett Jack have become one of the best backcourt trios in the Western Conference and work together in crunch time as part of a three-guard lineup.
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (26-23): Houston will try to use its length to keep Curry and Thompson from going off from beyond the arc but is more likely to try and run with the Warriors. The Rockets have made positive strides defensively by holding three of their last five opponents to 95 points or fewer but are still a team that plays with an open style. Harden recorded his first career triple-double in Saturday’s 109-95 win over the Charlotte Bobcats while Parsons and Patterson scored 24 points apiece. Asik hasn’t been asked to do as much scoring but has pulled down an average of 17 rebounds over the last four games and has three double-doubles in that span. The Rockets will have their grip on a top eight spot in the West challenged over the next two weeks, with two dates against the Warriors and one each with Miami, Oklahoma City, Brooklyn, Portland and the Los Angeles Clippers in the next eight games.
1. Rockets PG Jeremy Lin (ankle) and SF Carlos Delfino (elbow) are both questionable for Tuesday.
2. Curry has put up 16.4 points and 5.9 assists in seven career games against Houston.
3. Golden State is 14-11 on the road, compared to 16-6 at home.
Warriors 111, Rockets 108.