If you’re Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. and you have the audacity to stare down and verbally engage with an opposition player, then you may want to understand who and what you’re dealing with. Especially, if it is Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors on the other side of the aisle.
That was the case on Monday as Curry, having made just 40 of his last 135 three-pointers (under 30%), seemed to ignite on the back of whatever trash talk Porter had manufactured.
After the rather one-sided altercation occurred late in the third quarter, the two-time MVP exploded for 21 points in an eight minute span in the fourth quarter. The three-point barrage turned what could have been a tricky finish for the Warriors into a comfortable last few minutes.
Stephen Curry’s 40 point game, his first since before Christmas, elevated the Golden State Warriors to a 122-108 win over the Houston Rockets.
There was a surprise prior to the game with Warriors rookie Moses Moody earning his second career start in the absence of Otto Porter Jr. In a positive performance for the minutes-starved wing, Moody knocked down a three in the opening minute of the game and finished with 11 points in just under 25 minutes.
The Warriors, similarly to Saturday’s win over Brooklyn, were propelled in the first half by another 17 points from Andrew Wiggins. They finished it on a strong note, even if they had previously surrendered a double-digit advantage in the first quarter.
The parallels to the win over Brooklyn didn’t stop with Wiggins’ first half. After opening up an 85-67 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the third, Golden State allowed the inexperienced Rockets to come storming back into the game.
Houston went on a 32-18 run to cut the margin to four with six minutes remaining, setting up a finish that could have resembled the two teams’ last matchup less than two weeks ago.
But although Curry needed a buzzer beater on that night to get his team over the line, he finished things much more simply while still retaining the captivating, match-winning value. Porter must have wondered what he’d unleashed, with Curry acknowledging post-game that trash talking does give him a ‘boost’.
While the Rockets were able to produce offensively, their league worst defense couldn’t hold up to the pressure Curry and the Warriors provided. Golden State shot 53.8% from the floor and 42.5% from three-point range (17-40), with Wiggins continuing his all-star form with another efficient 23 point performance.
The Warriors now enter the second night of a back-to-back, facing the ever competitive San Antonio Spurs who pushed the Suns to the brink in Phoenix on Sunday.