While the last minute of the game stretched for about 5 minutes of Warriors intentionally fouling the Rockets in hopes of missed free throws and increased shot attempts at closing a 10 point gap, the game looked as if it was decided from jump. Although the Warriors rallied within 1 in the fourth quarter when Jeremy Lin took Rockets backup PG Ishmael Smith off the dribble for a layup, the Warriors collectively, yet again, could not defend the perimeter, let alone anyone, allowing the Rockets to hit consecutive open jumpers to expand the lead back to five and eventually out of reach.
But the defensive woes weren’t just poor perimeter defense but poor defense in general as the Warriors were called for 35 fouls to the Rockets 16, which lead to foul shooting disparity of 51 attempts to the Warriors 18. This Rockets translated this into 27 more MADE free throws.
Kevin Martin made 14-15 free throws but only shot 4-12 from the field. Luis Scola also chipped in 8 freethrows, but missing 7. Although Chuck Hayes dominated the first quarter, making 7-7 from the line, Scola seemed to take over in the second half. He scored 8 points in the third quarter alone and finished with 24 points and 12 boards.
For the third game in a row, Monta Ellis was largely ineffective, shooting a dismal 7-18 from the field for 18 points. Ellis’ shots were way off today, mostly hitting back iron. The Warriors offense sputtered intensely as they committed several shot clock violations. But besides this, the Warriors rarely moved the ball, relying on one-on-one situations (or one-on-three in Ellis’ case) often leading to heavily contested shots. The Rockets, however, easily found open players, as Warriors doubled Scola, but were unable to rotate quickly enough to shooters spotting at the 3-point range from the baseline. The Rockets made twice as many three pointers and shot 50% from downtown compared to the Warriors 26%.
The lone bright spot of the game was Lin who finished with 8 points, scoring on an array of drives and even made a 20 footer from the top of the key. Matched against the smaller Ishmael Smith, Lin found success on both ends of the floor.
Dorell Wright finished with 24 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists and has looked more comfortable taking his defender off the dribble. Scoring off of several drive attempts, Wright looked his best taking it to the hole versus settling for heavily contested jumpshots.