Golden State (14-18) at Houston (18-14)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 88° F
  • Game info: 8:30 pm EST Mon Jan 5, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Problems on offense have contributed to the Golden State Warriors’ longest skid of the season, and can’t be hidden against the team’s next opponent.

If the Warriors hope to end a five-game losing streak, they need to find ways to consistently score against one of the NBA’s top defensive teams as they face the Houston Rockets.

Golden State had its losing streak extended Saturday, falling 99-93 to the Detroit Pistons.

The Warriors are averaging 82.4 points during their slide, which has followed back-to-back wins over two of the league’s best teams—the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers.

Saturday’s defeat, however, did see Golden State keep the game close until the final seconds and the team scored its highest point total of the five-game skid.

“We lost the game, but as the way we’ve been playing lately we just have to take some positive energy from it, build on it, and realize this is the way we’re going to have to play,” Warriors guard Nick Van Exel said Saturday. “It’s a tough loss, but sometimes a loss can really turn the season around.”

Warriors guard Jason Richardson led all scorers Saturday with 24 points, while Van Exel added 18. Richardson is averaging 24.5 points in his last two games.

Houston is coming off the best defensive game in its history, beating the Utah Jazz 84-63 on Saturday.

The previous team record for fewest points scored by a Rockets’ opponent was 66, set by both the Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls this season. Houston is holding opponents to 84.3 points per game for the season—81.1 at home.

“We’ve really been taking pride in it,” Rockets forward Maurice Taylor said. “We really have a game plan, and we’re executing, like helping the way we’re supposed to.

“We’re establishing an identity as a great defensive team. We’re holding teams to a great field-goal percentage. We’re outrebounding opponents. We’re one of the best defensive teams in the league. And we won’t be satisfied until we’re the best defensive team in the league.”

Steve Francis had 17 points, Yao Ming scored 16, Cuttino Mobley had 13 and Kelvin Cato added 11 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Clarence Weatherspoon, acquired by Houston from the New York Knicks on Tuesday, was in uniform Saturday but did not play.

STANDINGS (through Jan. 3): Warriors - 6th place, 9 GB, Pacific Division. Rockets - 5th place, 3 1/2 GB, Midwest Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Warriors - F Mike Dunleavy, F Clifford Robinson, C Erick Dampier, G Richardson, G Van Exel. Rockets - F Jim Jackson, F Cato, C Yao, G Francis, G Mobley.

TEAM LEADERS: Warriors - Richardson, 18.3 ppg; Dampier, 11.2 rpg; Van Exel, 5.9 apg. Rockets - Francis, 17.2 ppg and 5.4 apg; Yao, 9 rpg.

SEASON SERIES: Rockets, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 19; Rockets, 85-83. At Houston, Yao scored 15 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Rockets.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Warriors - 4-12 on the road; Rockets - 11-4 at home.

INJURIES: Warriors - C Adonal Foyle (knee); C Evan Eschmeyer (knee); G Pepe Sanchez (ankle). Rockets - G Adrian Griffin (knee).

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