The game got out of hand real quick. By the end of the first quarter, the Golden State Warriors were already trouncing the Houston Rockets 33-15. It never got much better for Houston. They were shut down offensively as the Warriors stifling defense took hold of the game early.
Nothing but ankle injury stops Curry
Both sides started the game cold, with the first bucket in the game comng off a Stephen Curry three with 9:41 left in the first quarter. The Rockets failed to get points on the board until there was 8:24 left. Soon after that, Curry and Patrick Beverley got into a small scuffle. Beverley was trying to fluster Curry early to slow down the most likely MVP for a second consecutive year, and as a result they got tangled up while Curry was trying to drive. It led to pushing from both players involved, and they were both given technicals.
It was obvious, however, that Beverley's tactic did not work. Curry scored 24 points in the first half off of 8-13 shooting, 5-7 from three. If he didn't injure his ankle late in the second quarter, he would've caused even more damage. He begged coach Steve Kerr to get back in the game, but the latter opted to be cautious, resting his star due to the Warriors' huge lead.
Rim for Rockets shrinks to half its size
A quick glance at the Rockets' stats line says it all. Only two players scored over ten points, the first being James Harden on 36.8% shooting, leading his team with 17 points and the second being Dwight Howard, who went a horrible 4-11 from the line, and finished with 14 points. The team as a whole shot 35.7% from the field, 27.3% from the three, and 50% from the free throw line, horrible percentages to say the least. Their woes on offense didn't end there, as they got 24 turnovers.
While some credit must be given to the Warriors' crazy good defense today, most of the blame rest on the Rockets' shoulders. They failed to move the ball effectively and as a result had to settle for hard shots. It looked ugly out there as the Rockets were desperate for points throughout the game.
J.B. Bickerstaff's minute allocation issues
There are many reasons why J.B. Bickerstaff is a terrible coach. One, he is not respected by his team, which needs to be the basis of any player-coach relationship. A main reason for this is him constantly throwing the team under the bus for its chemistry issues instead of taking some of the blame for not focusing on that problem. Second, he gets lost easily in the middle of games, not knowing how to respond to a run from the other team or other things that go wrong for the Rockets. And lastly, he is terrible at allocating minutes effectively.
This is not only seen with Michael Beasley's sudden decrease in playing time after he proved to be a great scorer off the bench but in other areas as well, but with other players as well. Beasley played only six minutes, with Donatas Motiejunas and Josh Smith seeing more action. Both, especially the latter, have had disappointing seasons and Beasley clearly outplayed them when he was given the opportunity to do so.
From the moment he was signed, he emerged as a clear sixth man candidate for a team desperate for scoring off the bench. He could take some pressure off of Harden, who was the only threat on offense at the time. However, Bickerstaff has lately opted time and time again to keep Beasley on the bench for no reason.
Bickerstaff also played Jason Terry more than Beverley. The latter did have a tough time shooting the ball, but Terry didn't have a large impact on the offense either. Terry was also a liability on defense and as a result could not help the Rockets in any way while he was playing.
Finally, it is important to note that every time the Warriors lost this regular season was because their opponents slowed the game down. They focused on post play and half-court offenses. Instead of exploiting their weakness, Bickerstaff did exactly as they wanted by going small. He started Corey Brewer instead of Clint Capela, making the Rockets try keeping up with the Warriors instead of focusing on a completely different aspect of the game.
If Capela started, the Rockets could have dominated the boards and forced the Warriors to go big, thus slowing the game down and giving Houston a chance. However, Bickerstaff instead showed yet again why he is such a horrible coach. For the Rockets to bounce back from this trouncing, Bickerstaff will have to reevaluate his whole gameplan against them.