The Houston Rockets’ 22-game winning streak has come to a screeching halt, as they’ve found themselves on the wrong end of a pair of blowouts.
A game against the Golden State Warriors, however, might bring back some fond memories.
The Rockets will look to get back on the winning track Friday night when they continue their three-game road trip against Golden State, the team they beat to begin the best run the NBA has seen in 36 years.
Houston (46-22) defeated Golden State 111-107 on Jan. 29, the first of what turned out to be 22 straight victories—the second-longest streak in league history behind the 33-game run of the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
The Rockets finally lost on Tuesday, scoring only 34 points after halftime on their way to a 94-74 defeat to the league-leading Boston Celtics.
The second-half struggles got even worse Wednesday in New Orleans, as Houston scored only 25 points after the break en route to a 90-69 loss to the Hornets, handing the team its first losing streak in more than two months.
“This is a time where we really need to be mentally tough and focused going into every game,” said guard Tracy McGrady, who has just 23 points on 10-of-32 shooting in the back-to-back losses. “We’re on a two-game slide so we gotta get ourselves together. It’s getting harder every game.”
Houston will have its hands full against Golden State (42-25), the highest-scoring team in the NBA. The Warriors are averaging 110.9 points, which would be the highest-scoring season for a team since the 1992-93 Phoenix Suns averaged 113.4.
They’ve hit the century mark in their last 31 contests, scoring 114.1 points in that stretch.
Golden State has won nine of 12 but over the past month, nine of its 13 games have been against sub-.500 teams. That included its latest contest, a 116-100 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.
Their next eight games are against current Western Conference playoff teams, and the Warriors, just 2 1/2 games up on Denver for the No. 8 spot, can’t afford to slip up.
“This stretch is going to dictate our season, and it’s going to be very difficult,” said Baron Davis, who’s averaging 25.7 points and 7.4 assists in his last nine games. “We’ve got to hit our mark and really take care of business and prove that we belong.”
Golden State has certainly proved it can hang with the Rockets, having beaten them soundly twice prior to Houston’s January win.
Davis had 27 points in a 113-94 Warriors win on Nov. 29, then had 23 when Golden State won 112-95 in Houston on Dec. 31. Monta Ellis, who’s averaging 22.4 points in his last five, has scored 18.7 per game against the Rockets this season.
McGrady sat out Houston’s two most recent games against Golden State with injuries. In the Rockets’ win in January, they were paced by Yao Ming’s 36 points, along with 17 points and 12 assists from Rafer Alston.
Alston has given the team a sorely needed second option to McGrady since Yao went down with a broken foot on Feb. 26. He’s averaging 16.3 points over those 12 games, though he’s just 8-for-26 from the field in the past two.
While the Warriors have scored at least 100 points in 31 straight, the Rockets have gone 14 games and 21 of their last 22 without allowing an opponent to hit the century mark. Houston is giving up only 87.1 points per game during that stretch.
The Rockets have lost four of five overall in this series.