“I’m thankful that we got the win, but there’s still things that I feel I have to get better at day in and day out to fully solidify myself as an NBA player and not a two-way,” Lee said. D'Angelo Russell added 20 points, and Glenn Robinson III had 18 to help the Warriors win their third straight and end the Rockets’ four-game winning streak. Golden State improved to 8-24.
“We’re probably not going to play a bigger game than this all year,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “A national TV game against the Rockets. This game meant a lot to us.” Russell Westbrook had 30 points and 12 rebounds for Houston. James Harden had 24 points and 11 assists, and Danuel House Jr. had 18 points.
“We had a lot of great opportunities that we just didn’t convert,” Harden said. “It’s pretty simple.” Westbrook had his ninth consecutive game of at least 20 points, the longest by any Rockets player other than Harden since Tracy McGrady did it in 10 straight games in 2007.
“For whatever reason we just didn’t get it done,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “It’s too bad we didn’t play with the spirit and energy we usually have.” Green also had 11 rebounds. He gave the Warriors the lead for good with just under five minutes left in the third quarter on a driving layup.
“It’s been a really trying season for us,” Green said. “To come out Christmas Day and get a win against a very good basketball team feels good.” Ky Bowman hit a driving layup at the buzzer to give the Warriors an 92-87 edge heading into the final quarter.
“This felt like an opportunity for us and the guys seized it,” Kerr said. “I think the fans see how hard our guys are playing. Everybody is feeling great on Christmas Day to get that win.” After falling behind by eight points midway through the first quarter, the Rockets outscored Golden State 48-17 over the next 13 minutes to open a 53-40 advantage. Russell hit a short jumper in the final minute of the second and the Warriors drew to 68-64 by halftime.
“We were up by 13 in the first half and for some reason we decided to start fouling them and putting them on the line and that cost us,” D’Antoni said. “Defensively we gave up 64 points in the first half and that’s not good enough.”
CHRISTMAS TIME IN THE CITY Kerr said playing on Christmas “is definitely a special feeling. It’s a great day already with a lot of good vibes in the air. It’s nice to be home this year.” D’Antoni said: “It’s a special day for basketball; privileged to be able to play on these days.” Harden said: “I was pretty excited to play on Christmas. It’s always a blessing and a honor.”
TIP INS Rockets: Thabo Sefolosha missed his second straight game with an illness. Warriors: Robinson returned to the lineup after missing Monday night’s game against Minnesota with a right ankle sprain. … Kevon Looney missed the game with left abdominal soreness.
UP NEXT Rockets: Hosts Brooklyn on Saturday night. Warriors: Hosts Phoenix on Friday night.
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