Playing without injured Kevin Durant, the Golden State Warriors snapped Houston's nine-game win streak and avoided being swept this season by the Rockets with a 106-104 road victory Wednesday.
Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors shoots layup against the Houston Rockets on March 13, 2019 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. (Photo: VCG)
Klay Thompson scored a game-high 30 points while DeMarcus Cousins netted a season-high 27 points plus team-highs of eight rebounds and seven assists and Stephen Curry contributed 24 points in a crucial victory for the defending champions.
"When Kevin is out, we don't have the luxury of throwing to him and getting 30 points," Thompson said. "We had to throw it to 'Boogie' (Collins) in the post and he came through for us in a big way. He propelled us to a victory tonight."
Durant, a two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, was sidelined by a right ankle sprain suffered in a Sunday loss to Phoenix.
But the Warriors, a Western Conference-best 46-21, bounced back behind 3-point sharpshooter Thompson, who hit 12-of-23 from the floor including 5-of-10 from beyond the arc.
"Whether Kevin is out here or not, I play the same way," Thompson said. "I try to keep moving and being a force."
Cousins, signed as an injured free agent in July, has had to blend with the Warriors powerhouse lineup since returning in January from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
But Cousins established himself as a physical inside force who could give Houston fits in a playoff series.
"We made a concerted effort to feed him in the post," Curry said. "Nothing he does out there should surprise anybody."
Houston, which led Golden State 3-2 in last year's Western Conference finals before falling in seven games, had won the first three meetings of the season with Golden State but could not become the first team to sweep the Warriors since Steve Kerr became coach of the club and their run of four consecutive NBA Finals runs began.
"It's a good win for us," Kerr said. "We've got 15 games left for us to figure out the combinations. This was a good night."
NBA scoring leader James Harden netted 29 points and added 10 assists to lead the Rockets (42-26), who also got 24 points from Chris Paul and 13 points and 13 rebounds from Clint Capela.
Paul sank two free throws with 47 seconds remaining to pull Houston within 104-100, then completed a 3-point play after being fouled by Andre Iguodala to pull the Rockets within 104-103 with 10 seconds remaining.
Curry sank two free throws with eight seconds to play to boost the lead and the Warriors fouled Harden to send him to the free throw line.
Harden sank the first to create the final margin, but missed the second only to have Iguodala chase down the rebound and tap the ball to unguarded Thompson, who tossed it in the air as the final horn sounded.