Nor was DeMarcus Cousins available for the Warriors' first two meetings against the Rockets this season, while he was still recovering from the torn Achilles tendon that made it possible for Golden State to add an All-Star big man for the taxpayer's exception.
DeMarcus Cousins stepped up in Durant's absence, scoring 27 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out seven assists. "When it comes to smaller guards, I think I can guard them better than anyone in the league".
Russell Westbrook unleashed his 26th triple double of the season and led a second-half surge that lifted the Oklahoma City Thunder over visiting Brooklyn 108-96.
"When Kevin is out, we don't have the luxury of throwing to him and getting 30 points", Thompson said.
Kevin Durant sat out tonight with a right ankle contusion. My defense is going to be one of the bigger things come playoff time. "He propelled us to a victory tonight".
But the version of Cousins that showed up to the Toyota Center on Wednesday is capable of altering the dynamic of a playoff series, particularly against the undersized Rockets.
"We made a concerted effort to feed him in the post", Curry said.
Of course, a loss to the Warriors has the potential to carry more weight than others, especially for the Rockets, whom Golden State has eliminated in three of the past four postseasons, including last year's seven-game Western Conference finals.
National Basketball Association scoring leader James Harden netted 29 points and added 10 assists to lead the Rockets (42-26), who also got 24 points from Chris Paul and 13 points and 13 rebounds from Clint Capela.
Paul sank two free throws with 47 seconds remaining to pull Houston within 104-100, then completed a three-point play after being fouled by Andre Iguodala to pull the Rockets within 104-103 with 10 seconds remaining.
No regular-season game means all that much for a couple of rivals that played seven games in the Western Conference finals last season. "We've got 15 games left for us to figure out the combinations". So it's good to have multiple guys that can step up every night.
When Cousins settled for a one-year deal with Golden State, a lot of folks figured he could be a solution to the Rockets' switch-intensive defensive scheme that often baited the Warriors into relying on isolation instead of their typically attractive ball movement.
More impressively, Cousins played well defensively, even drawing a first-quarter charge on James Harden and earned minutes down the stretch from Steve Kerr. He finished with 3 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.