If a road win in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals was a case of the Golden State Warriors being “greedy,” in the parlance of Coach Steve Kerr, the first half of Game 2 on Wednesday must have been an experiment in generosity.
In a half defined by Golden State’s turnovers, mental mistakes and missed shots, the Warriors were thoroughly outplayed by a motivated Rockets team. Trevor Ariza led the way with 15 points and Houston shot 10 for 22 from 3-point range as a team as it went into the locker room up by 64-50.
After Wednesday’s shootaround, Kerr referenced his team as having become greedy in last year’s playoffs when they were able to win games on the road. But while he was hoping for some of that greed to continue tonight, he also alluded to Golden State’s occasional struggles to stay focused in a series that had seemingly become a mismatch, and he had tried to devise a game plan to avoid those pitfalls.
“There’s a balance you have to find,” he said. “You’ve got to be loose but you’ve got to be disciplined. We should come out and let it rip but do that in the context of taking care of the ball and defending with purpose.”
Instead, the Warriors had a brutal first quarter — at one point allowing a 10-0 run by Houston — and committed 11 turnovers in the half while going just 5 for 16 from 3-point range. The mistakes were on both ends of the court, but the crispness of their passing was decidedly absent, with several plays in which a pass not only missed its mark but the intended target was hard to even determine.
Kevin Durant led Golden State with 18 points in the half but he was not able to dominate as he had in Game 1, especially not with a diversified Houston attack that relied far less on James Harden to dominate every possession. P.J. Tucker, who had just 1 point in Game 1, had 14 points in the half, Harden also had 14 and Eric Gordon had 13.
There will undoubtedly be halftime adjustments by both teams, but playing at home with a 14-point lead, the Rockets have a fairly large margin for error in their effort to tie up the series.