Draymond Green, Warriors stun Rockets with dominant Christmas Day win

Rockets-Warriors isn’t what it used to be.

But thanks to a throwback performance from a makeshift lineup, Golden State gave its fans a Christmas treat with an unlikely win over a superior Houston team on Wednesday.

Draymond Green looked like his old self, while Damion Lee filled up the box score in a dominant 116-104 win for the last-place team in the West.

Houston led for much of the first half and looked ready to run away with the game after taking a 50-38 second-quarter lead. But the Warriors cut their deficit to four at halftime and dominated the second half for the stunning victory.

Harden shoots just one free throw

On defense, the Warriors focused on avoiding fouling James Harden, a strategy that paid off with the Rockets’ MVP candidate shooting his first and only free throw attempt with 7:59 left in the fourth quarter.

After trailing by five, the Rockets briefly took back the lead at 97-96 on a step-back 3-pointer by Harden that saw him draw that free throw on a foul by Marquese Chriss.

But Harden missed at the stripe, and D’Angelo Russell responded with a layup on the other end to give the Warriors the lead for good. Golden State closed the game on a 20-5 run to secure a surprising three-game winning streak after beating the New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves in their previous two games.

The Warriors got a balanced effort from their makeshift lineup and limited James Harden to just one free throw attempt in a Christmas day upset. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The Warriors got a balanced effort from their makeshift lineup and limited James Harden to just one free-throw attempt in a Christmas Day upset. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Draymond Green comes up big

Green tallied 20 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and a block while hitting 2-of-4 3-pointers, including a late dagger that capped a 19-2 Golden State run. Lee led the Warriors with 22 points and 15 rebounds while Russell tallied 20 points and four assists.

But it was the defensive effort on Harden that stood out above the rest.

“We talked about not reaching and making him finish,” Green told ESPN of guarding Harden. ... “Glenn Robinson did a great job on him and the entire team, we was throwing traps at him, able to keep him out the game and keep him from getting downhill.”

As Golden State focused its defense on Harden, Russell Westbrook struggled from the field. He tallied 30 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, but hit just 11-of-32 field-goal attempts.

Harden finished with 24 points and 11 assists while the Rockets shot 16 free-throw attempts as a team, a tally Harden is capable of reaching on his own.

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