OAKLAND, Calif. — On Dec. 1, the Golden State Warriors celebrated Asian Heritage Night at Oracle Arena. Fans were entertained outside the arena by the Shaolin Kung Fu Lion Dance Team of Oakland.
Students from the organization started with a lion dance and performed martial arts demonstrations led by Grandmaster Chiu Chi Ling. Chiu is a kung fu expert and is well known for his choreography for the international blockbuster film “Kung Fu Hustle.”
Once fans entered the arena, they were treated to a high-flying demonstration in the Korean martial art of taekwondo performed by dozens of young Bay Area martial artists. San Jose Taiko capped the festivities during a performance at halftime.
Spurred on by the night’s celebrations and with the Warriors riding a 12-game win streak going into the game, the fans gave a deafening ovation to its starting five during team introductions. However, the home crowd could not will their Warriors to a win as the team fell to the visiting Houston Rockets, 132-127, in a closely-contested, double-overtime game.
Golden State head coach Steve Kerr summed up his team’s performance, “Overall, we did not play well.
We got off to a horrible start.”
Houston jumped to a 13-4 lead in the opening 2:44 of the game, making six out of their first seven field goals. Golden State quickly came back, sparked by guard/forward Andre Iguodala. The Warriors’ sixth man provided an immediate lift off the bench when he slammed home a basket on a fast break. After the first quarter, neither team led by more than six points for the rest of the game.
During the two overtime periods, the Warriors shot just 25 percent (5-of-20), and just 9.1 percent in the second and decisive overtime period.
When reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry fouled out with 3:25 left, Houston’s defense collapsed on forward Kevin Durant, who leads the Warriors with 27.7 points per game. That strategy proved effective as he missed all four of his shots in the second overtime period.
Even with their poor shooting, the Warriors still had several chances to win the game. “We had our moments, especially in the first overtime.” Kerr said. “We had a real cushion. I think we were up four (119-115, 4:11 left) and I thought we let it slip away at that point when we had every opportunity to finish them off.”
In the second overtime, the Warriors trailed by only three points and had possession of the ball when forward Draymond Green was called for a costly flagrant-1 foul with 2:10 left to play. Green was called for kicking Rocket guard James Harden in the head while coming down with a rebound. That foul gave Houston two free throws, both made by Harden, and possession of the ball. That sequence sealed the victory for the Rockets.
During their win streak, the Warriors outscored their opponents by an average of nearly 18 points per game. However, the Warriors could not put together a sustained run this evening as the Splash Brothers, Curry and Klay Thompson, shot a combined 13-of-42 from the field (31 percent) and 7-of-26 on three-pointers (27 percent).
Houston’s win was highlighted by Harden, who led the Rockets with 29 points, 15 rebounds, and 13 assists for his fourth triple-double of the season. Harden also led Houston with 46 minutes played.
“I thought they deserved to win,” said Kerr. “They outplayed us.” Kerr was particularly effusive of Harden’s performance, saying that “with James Harden coming down hill at you with his strength, and his ability to handle the ball, pass it and shoot it they put a lot pressure on you.”
Houston’s win snapped an eight-game losing streak in the regular season against Golden State dating back to Feb. 20, 2014. Including the playoffs, Golden State had won 16 of their last 18 meetings with Houston, and eliminated the Rockets in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
Despite Golden State’s recent dominance over Houston, it just wasn’t the Warriors night.