Golden State Warriors face Houston Rockets at Toyota Center

Paul George Dwight Howard and the defenseless Rockets An inside look at five X Factors that can decide the West

Paul George Dwight Howard and the defenseless Rockets An inside look at five X Factors that can decide the West

However, while that was impressive in itself, the 36-point performance ensured that Harden's ridiculous scoring average at the start of the season would continue.

The Rockets won the 2018-19 regular season series between the teams by a 3-1 margin before the Warriors won a 4-2 series victory in the Western Conference semifinals.

Houston hosts the Golden State Warriors after James Harden scored 44 points in the Rockets' 107-100 victory over the Grizzlies. Houston led 63-52 at the break and opened the third quarter on a 20-8 burst that extended the cushion to 23-points on a Westbrook dunk, assisted by Harden, at the 6:43 mark of the period.

After sending last season's National Basketball Association finalists - who were paced by 28 points from Alec Burks - to their sixth defeat in their past eight games, Harden noted "this is the league, injuries happen" and the hosts can "build something great" with Golden State in transition. P.J. Tucker had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Clint Capela added 19 points and 16 rebounds, and Austin Rivers was 4 for 4 from 3 with 12 points.

None of the teams have played much defense this season and that is likely not to change soon, so the likelihood of a high octane and high score in the Toyota Center seems very high.

The Warriors, down three starters (Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, D'Angelo Russell) due to injury, mustered an answer to every Rockets run until Harden led a 21-6 surge to close the first half.

Even after a respectable shooting performance in Houston's win over Golden State, the veteran guard is still just converting on just 38.7 percent of his field-goal attempts and a ridiculously bad 27.0 percent of his 3-point attempts. They have also been inconsistent on defense, especially in the fourth quarter and will need to play hard for all four quarters if they want to beat the Rockets on Saturday.

The Warriors said in October that Looney was battling a "neuropathic condition" that had a "direct correlation" to a right hamstring injury that caused him to miss the pre-season. We don't really practice a lot, we're a vet team. "Coach (Mike D'Antoni) leaves it up to us to go out there and compete at a high level. Individually, we have to make sure we're on that, and as a team, we have to make sure we're on that".

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