Two elite NBA point guards matchup Friday night with the Golden State Warriors hosting the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena.
Golden State currently holds the No. 6 seed in the West, a mere two games ahead of the seventh-place Rockets, but Houston leads the season series 2-0. A victory could pay huge dividends for the Rockets as teams jostle for playoff position.
Houston’s Jeremy Lin prevailed over Stephen Curry’s Warriors when the two clubs last met on Feb. 12. Lin compiled 14 points and 10 assists with no turnovers, and Curry amassed 27 points, six assists, and five rebounds, in a Rockets 116-107 victory.
Since then Houston has gone 4-3, but the Rockets recently lost on the backend of a home-and-home set with the in-state rival Dallas Mavericks Wednesday. Lin chipped in 12 points with three assists, but broke his streak of nine straight games with at least five assists, in a 112-108 loss.
Guard James Harden recorded a game-high 28 points, going 16-for-16 from the free throw line, and center Omer Asik notched his 28th double-double of the season with 12 points and 15 rebounds. The Turk is now in a four-way tie for the tenth most double-doubles in the NBA.
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The Dallas duo of Dirk Nowitzki and O.J. Mayo overwhelmed Houston early, building a nine-point lead in the first quarter that the Mavericks would never relinquish. Nowitzki and forward Shawn Marion each scored 22 points, while Mayo totaled 13 points and 12 assists, knocking down three of his four attempts from downtown.
Opponents are now hitting 37.5 percent from beyond the arc versus Houston, the fifth worst mark in the league. The loss dropped Houston's defense to second to last in the league, giving up 103.8 points per game.
Golden State has just as porous a defense, ranked 25th in points allowed, and have surrendered the fourth most free attempts this season.
Looking past those discrepancies, the Warriors spurned a four-game losing streak by winning their last two, including an 87-83 win over the Sacramento Kings Wednesday.
It was the first time Golden State dropped the Kings this season, with second-year guard Klay Thompson knocking down a three with 7.5 seconds left for the victory. Thompson finished with game-high 20 points, connecting on four threes, and forward David Lee contributed 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Curry struggled on the offensive end, shooting 3-for-11, with six turnovers to eight assists, and 13 points.
The game tips-off at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time and will be broadcast nationally by ESPN, or you can watch their live online stream at Watch ESPN here, by submitting your cable provider info.
Betting Odds: Golden State is favored by 2 points
Over/Under: 221 points
Prediction: Curry and Lin should put on a terrific show, and Lee and Asik could be another key matchup to watch. This game figures to be an intense shootout that could either be a blowout or come down to the wire. Despite the Rockets well documented road troubles, Harden should be the difference, as the Warriors do not have an answer for him on the defensive end.
Predicted Score: Houston 110, Golden State 107