Warriors visit Rockets in huge Western Conference showdown
The Golden State Warriors lead the Houston Rockets by a half-game for sixth place in the Western Conference standings.
Sunday's game between the two in Houston will go a long way towards deciding that sixth seed for the upcoming playoffs.
The Rockets come into Sunday's matchup with consecutive wins, although Friday's victory was hard-earned. They trailed by 20 in the third quarter at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but James Harden scored 25 points in the second half to complete a 108-100 comeback win.
"They were making me mad tonight. They normally just frustrate me. Tonight they made me mad," Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said afterward. "They responded and that's credit to them.
"It's just the problem is they're really young. They do stuff that makes me just shake my head a lot. Then they do stuff like that in the second half, and then I guess all is right with the Rockets."
Harden had 37 points for the night on 8-for-16 shooting from the field and 5- for-10 shooting from long range. Jeremy Lin added 24 points and Chandler Parsons and Greg Smith also scored in double figures.
Both of the Rockets' recent wins came at home. Sunday will be game three of a seven-game homestand.
The Warriors finished up a seven-game homestand with an embarrassing 113-95 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Friday. Golden State finished the stay at Oracle Arena 4-3, but the way it ended was certainly disappointing.
"We were bad and we own the fact that we were bad," said Golden State coach Mark Jackson. "We got outplayed in our own building. We have to get over this one and look forward to going to Houston."
Jarrett Jack paced the Warriors with 20 points. David Lee chipped in 15, Harrison Barnes added 12 and Kent Bazemore netted 14 points late in 12 minutes of action.
Golden State's starting backcourt of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 15 points on 5-for-22 shooting. The pair also got shut out from long range, going 0-for-9.
Jackson also lamented his team's lack of experience.
"We're a young basketball team," he said. "They're learning to not allow the offense to dictate the defense. It's a young basketball team learning to win. It's a process."
The Warriors have two more on the road after Sunday, with tilts in New Orleans and San Antonio on the horizon.
The Rockets have owned the Warriors in recent history. They've taken all three meetings this season and 17 of the last 19 matchups, while Golden State has lost nine straight in Houston.