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Post ity weren’t necessarily Strief’s g
HOUSTON — It required two minutes and 23 seconds for all the Rockets had worked for to be torn asunder , for their unrelenting charge to the best record in the Western Conference to be rendered moot, and the home-court advantage that accompanied that accomplishment to be blithely negated through the handiwork of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.

It took that long for Golden State to churn out a 12-2 run in the third quarter that yielded a double-digit lead and a stranglehold on Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Monday night at Toyota Center.

The Rockets had labored down the stretch of the regular season to bypass the Warriors in the standings and guarantee that this anticipated series would open in Houston. In one two-plus-minute flash, the Warriors snuffed the Rockets and left them reeling.

In the aftermath of their 119-106 victory, the Warriors were left basking in a triumph that included rare circumstances. It marked the first time since their opening-round series with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 that the Warriors began a postseason series on the road, and, like that April 19 game at Staples Center, they met the challenge in road environs.

Thompson remembered that game as well as the outcome of the subsequent contests in that series. So, while the Warriors welcomed the lauding, they were hasty to issue words of caution while attention shifted to Game 2, which will tip off on Wednesday night back at Toyota Center.

“It was a great win, but this series is far from over,” said Thompson, who scored 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting. “I’ve been in this same situation, me and Draymond Kevin Hogan Color Rush Jersey , before. We came out and won a tough game, and they (the Clippers) came back and beat us (138-98) in Game 2.

“So, it’s natural to relax, but we’re not going to relax. We’re still not where we want to be, and we’ve got a long way to go.”

Modesty aside, the Warriors don’t have nearly as far to go as the Rockets, who not only surrendered home court, they allowed Golden State to dictate the terms of the series opener.

Houston breezed through the opening two rounds of the playoffs in part by displaying historically judicious ball security, posting a turnover rate (9.8 per 100 possessions) that ranked as second-best in playoff history over the 41 years that turnovers have been an official statistic.

In Game 1, the Rockets committed 16 turnovers and helped fuel the Warriors’ devastating transition offense. Golden State entered the series averaging 17.6 points per game in transition this postseason, far and away the best mark in the NBA. The Warriors scored 18 fast-break points in the opener, penalizing the Rockets’ surprising and sudden carelessness with the ball.

“If you miss shots or if you turn the basketball over, they’re out,” said Rockets guard James Harden, who paired a game-high 41 points with seven assists but also posted four turnovers. “They’re getting dunks, they’re getting 3s. I’m not sure how many transition points they had P.J. Hall Color Rush Jersey , but it was too many. That’s what they thrive on. So, we’ve got to do a better job of not turning the basketball over, taking better shots, and getting back (defensively) and matching up.”

The Warriors recorded a 60.6 effective field-goal percentage in the series opener, which was par for the course even against the Rockets’ exceptional defense. Golden State produced a 61.8 effective field-goal percentage during the team’s three regular-season meetings, the highest such mark against Houston by any opponent. However, it wasn’t that the Warriors shot efficiently but rather the number of wide-open looks they generated by ball movement.

The Rockets rightfully claimed some responsibility, with a handful of blown defensive assignments resulting in uncontested shots for Thompson, Stephen Curry, and Nick Young. Combined, that trio shot 10 for 25 from behind the arc, with Thompson, in particular, burning the Rockets with open 3s after Houston was caught scrambling to defend multiple actions.

“There’s too many times we had just mental lapses,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We either didn’t switch properly or we didn’t switch hard enough.”

Houston could point to a myriad of other factors contributing to its demise, namely key role players P.J. Tucker Josh Rosen Color Rush Jersey , Gerald Green, and Luc Mbah a Moute combining for seven points — two fewer than Young scored in 15 minutes off the Warriors bench — on 2-of-14 shooting. But what resonated were the miscues on both ends, fissures it can mend in advance of Game 2.

The objective is clearer for the Warriors: avoid the Game 2 letdown that undermined their postseason hopes four years ago.

“Nothing really changes,” said Durant, who scored a team-high 37 points. “We know it’s a long series, a seven-game series, so we know they’re going to come out with a lot of energy next game, try to even this thing up. So, we’ve just got to stay focused and be patient out there, and continue to keep playing hard.”

Zach Strief’s eyes watered up and the normally loquacious Saints right tackle struggled to speak at times as he discussed his decision to end of a 12-year NFL career that exceeded his ”wildest imagination.”
He did not, however, lose his sense of humor.

Strief, who announced his retirement Monday, said he considered walking away after the 2016 season, but was driven by a sense of obligation to his team – particularly quarterback Drew Brees – to play at least one more year.

”There was no clear replacement on the roster and I knew if I was at home watching TV and Drew was getting hit and I felt like I could have helped, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself Browns Baker Mayfield Jersey ,” Strief said. ”It’s much easier knowing that there’s someone there that’s going to play at a high level for him. So this is all Ryan Ramczyk’s fault.”

Ramczyk, a late first round draft choice last year, blossomed his rookie season, much of which he spent at right tackle after Strief’s Week 4 knee injury, which wound up ending the veteran lineman’s season.

Strief’s health wouldn’t have stopped him from coming back, but the 34-year-old’s priorities are changing. He became a father about two months ago and is part owner of a New Orleans microbrewery, where he said with a grin that he hopes to meet every last member of the Saints’ fan base.

”I am not above shameless self-promotion,” the often self-effacing Strief added, drawing laughs from a crowd of family and well-wishers that included coach Sean Payton and long-time teammates including Brees, running back Mark Ingram, All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan and punter Thomas Morstead.

Some retired Saints that Strief played with early in his career – including Steve Gleason and Deuce McAllister – also attended.

To Payton, Strief said, ”You took a chance on me when no one else would. Your faith in me has changed my life.”

To general manager Mickey Loomis: ”You kept me around for a long time, admittedly to your own surprise. If I was honest, I’d say it surprised me as well.”

He told Brees: ”My greatest drive as a player was not to let you down. You’re the greatest leader I’ve ever been around and I admire you so much.”

The 6-foot-7, 340-pound Strief Josh Allen Bills Jersey , a Cincinnati native, was a seventh-round draft choice out of Northwestern in 2006. That was Payton’s first season and the Saints’ first year back in New Orleans after being displaced to San Antonio by Hurricane Katrina.

Strief recalled struggling in his first training camp and all but making up his mind to quit, but his father urged him to stick it out and some timely encouragement from then-assistant coach Terry Malone persuaded him to persevere.

Strief wound up being part of the most successful era in franchise history, which included a Super Bowl triumph in the 2009 season.

He was a regular reserve during much of his first five seasons, routinely rotating onto the field for tackle-eligible formations. He became a starter in 2011 on an offense that set an NFL single-season record with 7,474 yards.

While quickness and agility weren’t necessarily Strief’s greatest assets, Payton said Strief’s size, strength, intelligence and character made him an elite lineman.

Payton called Strief ”an expert at his craft,” adding, ”We never insert someone just because they’re a good guy and they’re smart.”

Strief counted among his career highlights a game in which was on the field, but not in uniform. He was a healthy scratch for the Saints’ emotional and triumphant first home game in the rebuilt Superdome in September 2006.

”I got to see this city at its worst and for 12 years it’s gotten better,” Strief said. ”I’ve gotten to be a part of not only this organization kind of growing to where it is today, but also this city. So it’s very hard not to become attached to that.”


10. Aug 2018, 03:22
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