The Houston Rockets played spoiler to Golden State’s championship celebration on Tuesday, narrowly edging the Warriors 122-121 in the final minutes on Opening Night. Kevin Durant’s game-winning buzzer-beater was ruled good initially, but overturned after replay showed the ball was still in his hands as the clock expired. Nick Young led Golden State with 23 points and six three-pointers, while Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant added 22 and 20 points, respectively.
The Warriors led for the vast majority of the game, but ultimately fell short when it counted. They were outscored 34-20 in the final quarter, which proved all the difference in the contest. Draymond Green suffered a knee strain at the end of the third frame and did not return. He was one point shy of a season-opening triple-double at the time of his exit.
James Harden opened the scoring with a layup 13 seconds into the game. That would prove to be Houston’s only advantage until the 1:32 mark of the fourth quarter, as Klay Thompson soon followed Zaza Pachulia’s two free throws with a three-pointer to give the Warriors their first lead of the night. That shot would get Thompson going, as he would proceed to convert his first four shot attempts of the game, the last of which put the Dubs up 22-9 with 6:56 remaining in the first quarter. The Rockets would immediately respond with a 15-2 run to knot the score, after which Nick Young began to introduce himself to the Oracle crowd. He’d make a three-pointer on the ensuing possession and two more throughout the remainder of the quarter, which came to a close with Golden State holding a slim 35-34 advantage.
Young’s onslaught would continue into the second frame, as he notched another eight points in the first five minutes to increase Golden State’s lead to 51-40. Kevin Durant, who was held scoreless in the first quarter, would account for the Warriors’ next five points and total 10 in the quarter to help keep the Rockets at bay. His assist on Green’s three-pointer at the 3:29 mark gave the Warriors their largest advantage of the entire night at 66-49. Golden State would end up taking a 71-62 lead into halftime thanks to some impressive three-point shooting, having made 11 of their 17 first half attempts from beyond the arc.
Stephen Curry, who totaled only five points in the first half, would double his scoring output within the first 63 seconds of the second to rebuild a 15-point cushion. Durant would provide Golden State’s next points by way of a three-pointer, and he’d go on to total 10 points in the third frame, the last two of which gave the Warriors a 95-79 lead with 3:38 left in the period. Houston would trim just three points off that deficit through the remainder of the quarter, but Green suffered a left knee strain in the final seconds, and the Warriors missed the reigning Defensive Player of the Year throughout the duration of the game.
Golden State possessed a 13-point advantage at the end of three, but the Warriors managed to score only five points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, allowing the Rockets to climb back in it. Thompson’s final three-pointer of the night at the 6:46 mark rebuilt an eight-point lead, but that would be the last time Golden State scored consecutive baskets, and Houston inched closer and closer from there.
After the Rockets had closed within four, the two sides traded scores for the next six minutes until P.J. Tucker followed Harden’s layup with two free throws to give Houston their first lead since the first basket of the game at 122-121 with 44 seconds left in regulation. Those would prove to be the final points in the contest, as Durant’s potential game-winning shot left his hand a fraction of a second after the final buzzer had sounded.
With the loss, the Warriors drop to 0-1 on the season. They’ll now head out on a three-game road trip, beginning with a matchup against the Pelicans on Friday.