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Reply To: NBA • "New Year's Eve!" • Thursday 12/31/15

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Preview: Golden State At Houston

When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, December 31, 2015

Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

The Golden State Warriors found out what life was like without reigning MVP Stephen Curry on Wednesday night and it wasn’t pleasant in a 114-91 defeat at Dallas. Curry could sit out for the second straight contest with a lower left leg bruise when Golden State visits the Houston Rockets on Thursday in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference final.

Curry, who leads the league in scoring (30.5), missed his first game of the season as the Warriors lost for only the second time in 31 outings. The NBA’s second-best point producer James Harden (28.4) leads the Rockets, who have dropped back-to-back games after appearing to turn the corner with a 4-1 stretch that pulled them over the .500 mark. Houston gave up 115.5 points per game during its most-recent losses against New Orleans and Atlanta, falling to 27th in the league in scoring defense entering Wednesday’s contests. “We continued to beat ourselves,” Houston forward Trevor Ariza told the Houston Chronicle after the 121-115 loss to Atlanta on Tuesday. “Coach (J.B. Bickerstaff) said we are one of our toughest opponents, and I think he’s right about that.”

TV: 7 p.m. ET, CSN Bay Area (Golden State), ROOT (Houston)

ABOUT THE WARRIORS (29-2):
Golden State allowed 51.2 percent shooting and its starters combined to make only one-third of their shots in the loss to the Mavericks on Wednesday. Draymond Green played despite an ankle injury and went 4-of-15 from the floor for 11 points after scoring at least 21 in five of the previous seven contests. Shaun Livingston got the start in place of Curry and his backcourt partner Klay Thompson, the team’s second-leading scorer (19.3), struggled to a 4-of-15 shooting night and 10 points.

ABOUT THE ROCKETS (16-17):
Houston posted 71 points and led by 15 in the first half Tuesday before the Hawks rallied, finishing with 33 points off 20 Rockets turnovers. Howard, who is third in the league in field-goal percentage (60.5), is coming off one of his best games of the season when he registered 30 points and 16 rebounds. Ariza (11.3 points) is shooting 34.4 percent from 3-point range combined the last two seasons – 32.6 in 2015-16 — with Houston after draining 40.7 percent with Washington in 2013-14.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Warriors have won six straight in the series during the regular season, including the 112-92 triumph on Oct. 30.

2. Houston F Terrence Jones, who is averaging 10.3 points, missed Tuesday’s game with an illness but is expected back in the lineup.

3. Golden State has lost three straight games with Curry out of the lineup, including a pair last season.

PREDICTION: Warriors 108, Rockets 100