The Rockets look to defeat the Warriors for the eighth straight time Thursday night in Oakland.
It was unclear what to expect from Houston (10-8) early this season playing without injured stars Yao Ming(notes) and Tracy McGrady(notes) and with Ron Artest(notes) leaving via free agency. The Rockets, though, have been very solid and have opened this four-game trip with two wins.
“For the most part, our guys have done a good job,” coach Rick Adelman said. “I mean, we knew we were going to have shortcomings and we knew we were going to be small. We lost our top three scorers from last year, so we knew we were going to find out who was going to be the guy who steps up.
“We’ve played a tough schedule, we’ve played a lot of games on the road against good teams, and we’ve responded.”
This is Houston’s second visit to Golden State (6-11) after having spoiled the Warriors’ season opener with a 108-107 victory Oct. 28. Trevor Ariza(notes)—added to replace Artest—scored 25 points and Luis Scola(notes) had 21 and 11 rebounds as the Rockets erased a 10-point halftime deficit.
Houston hasn’t lost to Golden State since a 112-95 defeat Dec. 31, 2007, and has won four straight visits to Oakland. Three of the Rockets’ wins in the seven-game run have come without Yao.
The Rockets have used strong second-half defense to improve to 6-4 on the road so far. They limited Oklahoma City to 37 points after halftime in a 100-91 victory Sunday and gave up 33 second-half points to the Clippers in a 102-85 win Wednesday.
Aaron Brooks(notes) made his first eight shots and finished with 22 points and rookie Chase Budinger(notes) added 19 against Los Angeles. The Rockets shot 50.7 percent from the field, improving to 7-0 when shooting at least 46 percent.
Scola, wearing protective goggles after getting gouged in the right eye by the Thunder’s Etan Thomas(notes) on Sunday and getting seven stitches, played 28 minutes and was 4 for 11 with eight points and seven rebounds. Scola has played in 182 consecutive games.
The Warriors expect coach Don Nelson to be back after missing the last five games while recovering from pneumonia. Golden State went 2-3 without him, falling 135-107 at Denver on Tuesday.
“We tried hard,” acting head coach Keith Smart said. “We played hard for a quarter and a half and then we just couldn’t compete. We just didn’t have enough tonight.”
The Warriors used only eight players and have had to play short-handed for significant stretches of the season because of injuries.
“We’re kind of used to it by now,” rookie guard Stephen Curry(notes) said. “Our bodies are trying to get adjusted to playing heavy minutes, trying to play hard the whole game. It would be nice to have some healthy bodies but that’s what we have to deal with right now.
“We’ve got to go out there and try to be competitive. That’s our goal.”