Elevator Pitch: Despite a season-high 39 points from James Harden (and making Klay Thompson look better suited for ice skating in Sochi with a mean step back to momentarily put Houston up two with under 10 seconds in the final frame) and 21 rebounds from Dwight Howard, the Golden State Warriors used an extra five minutes of free basketball to eek out an 102-99 victory over Houston.
Game Ball: The funny thing is, The Dubs are known as the sharp-shooting, electrifying long range squad led by Steph Curry, whose layup tied the game at the end of regulation. Nearly as important, however, David Lee’s a walking double-double. In fact, Kevin Love, Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins and Lamarcus Aldridge are the only four 20-and-10 players this season. Lee? He’s on the cusp with 19.1 points and 9.9 rebounds. Last night’s 28-and-14 should help that cause.*
Supporting Actor: Jermaine O’Neal’s defense on Dwight Howard – nevermind being made a momentary poster – and overall rim protection was as valuable as any Curry trey ball or Lee post move. Plus, he inspired this glorious tweet.
Standings: The playoffs don’t start for another two months, but now is the time when postseason positioning becomes more than just the casual bar conversation. Thanks to Harden and Howard looking more and more like an inside-outside tandem and an eight-game win streak (before this loss), 37-18 Houston sits a half game ahead of the Clippers and Blazers for third in the West.
Here’s the provocative tidbit. As of this very moment, Golden State (33-22) remains a game ahead of Dallas. They’re currently seventh in the conference, but give or take a loss between now and mid-April, and the Thunder remain locked in as the top seed, riddle me this.
If you’re a Thunder fan, does an OKC/Golden State 1 vs. 8 first round matchup scary the living piss out of you?
* – Also, Blake Griffin is knocking on the door as well with 9.9 rebounds.