When it was announced prior to the start of tonight's main event that James Harden would miss the game with the combination of a neck injury and flu-like symptoms it seemed inevitable that the Golden State Warriors would prevail on their home court.
Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets had something else in mind. They took it to the Warriors right from the opening tip getting out to a 15-0 lead and extended that lead to as much as 20 points in the first half.
The Warriors made their typical third-quarter run and eventually took a slight two-point lead, but it didn't last long as the Rockets retained control of the game before defeating Golden State 118-112 at Oracle Arena.
Paul was phenomenal tonight in what may have been his best game of the season. The veteran point guard stepped up in Harden's absence to notch a 23-point, 17-assist double-double.
He had plenty of help around him, too - Eric Gordon and Kenneth Faried both eclipsed the 20-point mark while P.J. Tucker put together a terrific performance of 18 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and two blocks, locking up on the defensive end.
For the Warriors it was their three scorers in Kevin Durant (29 points), Stephen Curry (25 points) and Klay Thompson (20 points) who tried to keep them afloat.
There were many significant moments in this one but on the topic of CP3's performance, he joined elite company when he earned his 9,000th career assist.
Chris Paul joins John Stockton, Jason Kidd, Magic Johnson, and Oscar Robertson as the fifth player with career totals of at least 17,000 PTS, 9,000 AST, & 4,000 REB. pic.twitter.com/K5hYbtXd25- Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) February 24, 2019
As for notables for the Rockets as a whole, they became the first team to win four straight regular season games against the Warriors in the Steve Kerr era.
They also joined the 2017-18 Utah Jazz as the only two teams to beat the Warriors three times in the regular season in the Kerr era.
3-0 #PhotoOfTheGame | @rokitofficial pic.twitter.com/JUP2PP9fCH- Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) February 24, 2019
In bad news for Golden State, Draymond Green left the game with an ankle injury and did not return. After the game, Kerr told ESPN's Nick Friedell, "I don't think it's a really serious injury but we'll have an update tomorrow."
The Rockets still sit in fifth place in the conference at 34-25, 2.0 games behind the Portland Trail Blazers for fourth. As for the Warriors, they still hold the conference's best record at 42-17 and are 1.5 games ahead of the second place Denver Nuggets.