Feb 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) scores a basket against Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson (11) during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets 102-99 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Defense Comes Up Huge In Warriors' Win Over Rockets

Jermaine O’Neal made one of the defensive plays of the year, blocking Chandler Parsons at the rim and saving the game for the Warriors in overtime.

After suffering a heartbreaking loss to the Miami Heat on a LeBron James buzzer beater right before the All-Star break, the Golden State Warriors were in need of a good win to get their momentum rolling again.

Even though they won against the Kings on Thursday night, that was a game they were supposed to win, and did so decisively. However, with the Rockets coming to Oracle riding a league-high eight-game win streak — including wins over teams such as the Spurs, Mavericks, and Suns — the Warriors found themselves as underdogs in their home building.

Not only were the Rockets coming in on their winning streak, but also the Warriors had struggled at home as of late, going only 4-5 in their last five home games. They were also without their defensive anchor Andrew Bogut for the sixth straight game, and with Dwight Howard and Omer Asik coming into town, they were undermanned.

However, the Warriors submitted what might have been their best defensive effort of the season, holding the Rockets to only 99 points in a game that went to overtime. Jermaine O’Neal effectively shut down Dwight Howard (holding him to 4-13 shooting and only 11 points) and had what might have been the best defensive play of the year, blocking Chandler Parsons at the rim to seal the game. While James Harden got it going in the second half, the Warriors were able to limit the rest of the Rockets potent offense, holding them to only 31% shooting.

The Warriors offense itself wasn’t pretty, as they shot only 39.8% from the field, but were able to hit clutch shots when they needed them. Stephen Curry hit a beautiful left-handed layup to tie the game with three seconds left after being hounded by Patrick Beverly all night, and Andre Iguodala was able to come up big in overtime with a couple baskets of his own. This was a team victory all around, and is arguably the best win of the season for the Warriors (given the circumstances).

Other Random Observations

  • The hockey substitutions are back. After not deploying all five bench players at the same time for a couple months, Jackson did just that in the first quarter, with a lineup of Steve Blake, Jordan Crawford, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, and Marresse Speights. Just like previous times, the hockey substitution was a failure, as they were outscored 10-3 in four minutes of game time.
  • Steve Blake made his debut last night, checking in for Klay Thompson at the 4:33 mark in the first quarter. Although, he struggled for the most part, going only 1-5 from the field. However, that three was a big one as it cut the Rockets lead from seven to four at the end of the first quarter.
  • Patrick Beverley continued to have success guarding Stephen Curry. Although he eventually fouled out in overtime, he did a good job containing Curry who had to work for all 25 of his points.
  • After hitting his first five shots, David Lee struggled the rest of the game from the field, going just 6-of-17 the rest of the way. He also had some horrible turnovers late in regulation and in overtime, but if it wasn’t for his offense early in the game, the Warriors would not stay close enough to pull out the win.
  • The Warriors have now held opposing teams to sub 40% shooting 20 times this year , second to only the Indiana Pacers. With the great defensive effort last night, the Warriors now rank third in defensive efficiency in the league, and first in the Western Conference. Although the offense hasn’t always looked pretty, with defense like last night, the Warriors will still be in a lot of games.

What’s on Deck

The Warriors will be in action again on Saturday Night against the surging Brooklyn Nets who are 15-6 since the New Year. The Warriors will looking to get revenge after the Nets snapped the Warriors 10 game win streak in early January.

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