DeMarcus Cousins served as a facilitator before thriving as a battering ram, leading the Golden State Warriors to a 106-104 victory over the host Houston Rockets on Wednesday at Toyota Center.
Cousins posted season-highs in points (27) and assists (seven) to help the Warriors avert a four-game, season-series sweep by the Rockets.
Golden State played without All-Star forward Kevin Durant (ankle), yet controlled the action for much of the first half before reasserting control with a series of offensive rebounds and second-chance baskets in the third quarter.
The Warriors, 4-6 over their previous 10 games, snapped the Rockets’ season-best, nine-game winning streak by striking an effective inside-out balance.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 54 points on 20-of-43 shooting, with Thompson tallying 30 and five 3-pointers.
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The Rockets sliced what was a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit to 104-103 on a three-point play by Chris Paul with 10.8 seconds remaining.
But Curry sank two free throws with eight seconds left and, after James Harden missed the second of two free throws with 6.4 seconds left, Andre Iguodala tracked down the loose ball in the backcourt for Golden State to seal the victory.
Thompson, Cousins and Curry (24 points) were the only Warriors to score in double figures. Golden State shot 49.4 percent from the floor and finished 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.
Paul finished with 24 points and was instrumental in engineering the rally down the stretch of the second quarter. While the Rockets pulled even at 52-52 on a Harden 3-pointer with 32.5 seconds left, it was Paul who scored seven points in succession to help erase a 49-42 deficit.
Harden paired 29 points with 10 assists but continued his recent struggles from deep, missing 10 of 12 3s. Clint Capela posted a double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds) but struggled to defend Cousins on the block.
Eric Gordon added 17 points while the Houston bench, which played a significant role in the victory over Charlotte on Monday, produced just 18 points.
The Warriors turned seven offensive rebounds into six second-chance points in the third period. Cousins recorded six assists in the first half.