Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr can’t figure out how his team is still undefeated.
After a 98-87 victory over the depleted Houston Rockets on Saturday night gave the Warriors their first 5-0 start in 20 years, Kerr laughed about his club’s 26 turnovers.
“We were making plays that would make a sixth-grader blush,” the first-year rookie coach said. “It’s shocking to me that we have so much talent, and if they would just make the easier play, then the game would be simpler and we’d be in great shape.”
When asked how the Warriors were able to overcome an eight-point halftime deficit and outscore the Rockets 50-31 in the second half, Kerr simply said, “We have this guy named Steph Curry. He’s pretty good.”
Curry had 34 points and 10 rebounds in a matchup of undefeated teams, scoring 23 in a pivotal second half that was highlighted by a 22-4 run over the opening 7 minutes of the third quarter.
“At halftime, it felt like a funeral in here,” Curry said. “Guys were down and we couldn’t figure out why we couldn’t establish a rhythm.”
Curry shot 6 for 9 from 3-point range and finished with five assists and four steals.
The only unbeaten team in the NBA, the Warriors improved to 5-0 for the first time since the 1994-95 season, when Golden State finished 26-56 under coach Don Nelson.
Houston played without center Dwight Howard (flu-like symptoms) and power forward Terrence Jones (bruised right leg), which made things much easier for the Warriors inside.
They outscored the Rockets 56-32 in the paint, and Warriors center Andrew Bogut dominated the glass in Howard’s absence, pulling down 18 rebounds.
James Harden led the Rockets (6-1) with 22 points, and point guard Isaiah Canaan had 21 in place of Patrick Beverley (hamstring).
“We were stagnant. We didn’t move,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. “We had too many turnovers, and we just ran out of gas.”
Playing without their two starting big men, the Rockets attempted an NBA season-high 42 3-pointers, making just 10, for their worst shooting performance (23.8 percent) of the young season. They entered the game leading the NBA at 43.1 percent from beyond the arc but struggled mightily to knock down open shots.
“We missed shots, we had opportunities, and we didn’t attack the paint like we wanted to,” Harden said.
Golden State fell behind early as Klay Thompson played only 10 minutes in the first half after picking up his third foul early in the second quarter. Thompson finished with 11 points.
Donatas Motiejunas hit a 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer to give the Rockets a 56-48 lead.
The Warriors quickly erased the deficit in the third quarter as Houston went 1 of 12 on 3-pointers. The Rockets entered the fourth quarter trailing for the first time this season and were unable to mount a comeback.
Warriors: Bogut had 14 defensive rebounds, and Golden State outrebounded the undersized Rockets 54-46.
Rockets: Making the first starts of their NBA careers, forward Kostas Papanikolaou and center Tarik Black combined for four points and 15 rebounds in the absence of Howard and Jones.
Golden State remains on the road Sunday against the Phoenix Suns, who have lost three of four since a 2-0 start.
The Rockets rest until Wednesday, when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Rockets and Warriors entered ranked first and fifth, respectively, in 3-point shooting, both topping 40 percent. But they combined to miss their first six 3-pointers and seven of their first eight to start the game. The Warriors shot 32.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Golden State is 3-0 away from home, and the Warriors have won 21 of 29 road games dating to last season, the best stretch in franchise history.
MAKING IT RAIN
For the eighth straight game, the Rockets made at least 10 3-pointers. Dating to last season, they have the longest such streak in the NBA and are three games shy of the league record.
SOURCE: The Associated Press