If there was ever any doubt that 7000 Coliseum Way was the center of the basketball universe on Tuesday evening, that was removed better than two and a half hours before the Houston Rockets won the opening tip in Game 2, Eric Gordon dribbled up the floor and the boos rained down from the golden bowls of Oracle Arena.
There sat Stephen A. Smith, the boisterous, polarizing and lyrically-gifted ESPN host/reporter/polemicist extraordinaire, doing his thing in the media room on the ground floor of the arena.
The playoffs don’t truly begin until Stephen A. comes to Oracle — oftentimes in the Western Conference Finals or even the Finals. He goes where the story is.
After Game 1, punctuated by James Harden’s “fair chance” rant, Warriors-Rockets was the story for all the wrong reasons. After Game 2, it was the story because the Warriors played beautiful basketball, handled Harden and Co. 115-109 and took a 2-0 lead back to Houston.
“I think both teams just realized what the hell was going on the last few days,” Draymond Green explained.
Green had 15 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and two steals in the thrilling win over the Rockets. From the jump, it was clear that Green, and the rest of the Warriors, who all too often love to complain about calls, would be doing no such thing.
They were locked in, especially defensively.
“It’s very important because that’s a ball club they can get going and they can become impossible to stop,” Green said. “So, to start the game with that type of defensive intensity these last two games is key in being 2-0 up in the series.”
After holding the Rockets to 19 points in the opening stanza of Game 1, the Warriors limited Houston to 20 in the first 12 minutes of Game 2.
“You can’t really turn a blind eye to anything in day and age with social media and these things,” Green continued. “So, everyone was aware of all the talk about officiating and about foul calls…”
“Play the game. I think both teams did a great job of that,” Green said. “They weren’t complaining about many calls. We weren’t complaining about many calls because it’s kind of embarrassing for the game of basketball — how much has been talked about fouls and officiating.
“What about beating your man? What about stopping your man? No one talked anything about schemes the last few days. It’s all been about foul calls.”
“So I think both teams were just locked in on playing to the best of their ability and you’ve got to give credit to both clubs, both teams did that.”
Kerr, sitting at the post-game podium summed it up best — on a night when the assignment of official Scott Foster, Harden’s sworn enemy, threatened to send the series off the rails.
“I didn’t even notice the officiating,” Kerr said. “I don’t think anybody did. I think that’s best compliment you can give them.”
In the opening quarter both Curry (dislocated left middle finger) and Harden (severely poked eye) had to exit the contest and head to the locker room. Both would return — Curry after quickly conducted X-Rays came back negative and Harden midway through the second quarter.
Harden, with his blurred vision, dropped 29, which was tied with Kevin Durant for the game high. Afterwards, he sat along Chris Paul, looking down at the dais for much of his press conference, shading his eye.
"I barely can see," Harden explained.
"I’m sorry. What?" a reporter countered.
"I barely can see," Harden repeated.
"I can’t hear you," the reporter followed up.
"Barely can see," Harden repearted, again, squinting noticeably.
The “fair chance” star, the guy who started all the referee talk, was in no mood to discuss the noise.
“What ref chatter…?
“There was no chatter. It wasn’t a conversation.”