"We didn't learn nothing that we didn't already know", guard Chris Paul said after the Rockets' nine-game winning streak was snapped and any realistic hope of catching the Warriors for the West's top seed was extinguished. The Warriors play in Oklahoma City against the Thunder on Saturday.
There is, however, a 6-foot-11, 270-pound wild card in the equation that wasn't around for the West finals past year. And he was a liability in the Warriors' Feb. 23 loss to the Rockets, a nonfactor offensively and picked on defensively.
Cousins is averaging 15.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game with the Warriors this season. The Splash Brothers combined for 54 points while DeMarcus Cousins stepped up in KD's absence with a line of 27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. "I'm anxious about what's in this locker room", he said before walking away.
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. "He propelled us to a victory tonight". He became the first player not named Harden to lead the Rockets in scoring in 43 games when the Beard got into foul trouble on Sunday night and Gordon's 26 points led the team over Dallas.
Despite what the final score of 106-104 might suggest, the Warriors were in control for a majority of the 48 minutes, leading by as many as 14 with only a slight four-point deficit early in the second half.
"They're still the team to beat", Rivers said.
Nor was Houston coach Mike D'Antoni, saying, "Cousins will get what Cousins gets". "I'm sure they are".
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"I'm gonna put that on my wall in my man cave for sure".
And after his best game of the season on Wednesday night in a win over the Houston Rockets, Cousins likened the media frenzy surrounding the team to a soap opera his grandmother watched every day when he was a child.
The joy that Kerr wants his team to play with was on display both during and after Wednesday's win as smiles permeated throughout the locker room.
For the better part of the last month, the Warriors have tried to stay above water.
"I love the way we're playing right now", P.J. Tucker said.
When he rolls to the basket his defenders has to move with him and weak side defenders have to keep at eye on him if he gets a switch. "And we just gotta figure some things out and do a better job".
"I mean, I was getting wide-open looks from his passing ability".
Cousins, signed as an injured free agent in July, has had to blend with the Warriors powerhouse lineup since returning in January from a ruptured Achilles tendon. It had the same eerie feeling it did when James Harden hit that impossibly hard 3-pointer on January 3 to beat the Warriors in overtime.