DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins scored a season-high 27 points to lead the Golden State Warriors to a 106-104 victory over the Houston Rockets.
With approximately 15 games remaining in the regular season, the Warriors continue to be the team to beat in the NBA. The two-time defending champions hold the best record in the Western Conference and currently sit in the coveted #1 seed in the playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets, the biggest surprise in the West, trail the Warriors by two games. The Houston Rockets (42-26) are competing with the Oklahoma City Thunder (42-26) for the #3 seed in the West.
Only the Milwaukee Bucks (51) and the Toronto Raptors (48) have more wins than the Warriors. Greek Freak and the Bucks are the only 50-win team in the NBA.
Boogie Cousins had his best game of the season since joining the Warriors mid-season after rehabbing a blown Achilles. He scored a season-high 27 points, while adding 8 rebounds and 7 assists. He also avenged a mediocre performance in their previous meeting against the Rockets during a six-point loss in Houston.
Cousins is averaging 15.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game with the Warriors this season. He also has a 20.68 PER rating. His three-point shooting is down from 33.2 percent in his career to only 24.2 percent this season.
The Warriors won a key game without their All-Star Kevin Durant. On Sunday, Durant went down with a sprained ankle. The Warriors kept him out of the lineup for precautionary reasons. Even without Durant, the Warriors powered their way to a victory. Heading into the game, they were on their worst 10-game stretch of the season with a 4-6 clip.
The Warriors held off a late surge from the Rockets to win by two points. Klay Thompson led all scorers with 30 points. Steph Curry added 24 points.
Thompson his five treys in this game to give him 203 on the season. He joined Curry as the only player in NBA history to connect on 200-plus three-pointers in seven consecutive seasons.
While the Warriors were stumbling through the final quarter of the season, the Rockets were on fire. The won nine games in a row and looked unstoppable. They had also beat the Warriors in all three games this season. The Rockets were ready to turn the corner until this setback.
“Sometimes you don’t learn a lot when you win,” said Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni. “If this didn’t get their attention, then we’re in big trouble. It’ll get their attention. And we just gotta figure some things out and do a better job.”
The Warriors have their number in the postseason. The Rockets were eliminated from the playoffs in three of the last four years by the Warriors. Even though the Nuggets have looked good in the regular season, they lack the postseason experience of older teams like the Thunder and Rockets.
Harden scored 29 points and contributed 10 assists. He hasn’t looked the same since he injured his neck around the All-Star Break. He missed only one game, but has only scored 30-plus in five out of his last nine games.
With center Clint Capela back in the line up, the Rockets increased their scoring output. During the recent winning streak, Harden did not have to carry the team like earlier in the season when he scored 30-plus in 32-straight games. Capela returned to action after missing significant time with a thumb injury. The double-double master scored 13 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.
According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas, the Golden State Warriors are -220 favorites to three-peat as NBA champions. The Houston Rockets are 8/1 odds to win the NBA crown.