Jalen Green hopes a return to his high school region and G League success will help him end a shooting crisis when the Houston Rockets visit the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night in San Francisco.
Green has spent the last three seasons playing for three different types of programs in Northern California: high school (San Joaquin Memorial in Fresno), academy (Prolific Prep in Napa), and professional start-up (the G-League Ignite, which was based in Walnut Creek).
The “no. The second pick of the 2021 draft returned to California as an NBA player for the first time last Sunday, but only shot 2 for 8 in a seven-point performance against the Los Angeles Lakers.
He rebounded 24 points against the Lakers in a rematch, but has since gone 3 for 14 in Phoenix and 3 for 9 in Denver, the latter resulting in a 95-94 defeat, heartbreaking Saturday afternoon.
The defeat was the Rockets’ second in their current five-game away game that went all the way to the final shot, with Houston within a basket of a shocking win. But the Rockets missed both shots: a Kevin Porter Jr. triple in Los Angeles and a layup by Jae’Sean Tate on Saturday that was blocked by Denver’s Nikola Jokic.
While the prospect of a back-to-back at the end of an eight-day trip probably doesn’t excite many Rockets, it’s one Green has been looking forward to. It will be her first head-to-head meeting with Stephen Curry, who was a bit of a mentor during Green’s high school days.
“Steph just tells me to keep working,” Green noted of the most recent message from the two-time Most Valuable Player leading up to the draft. “Try to give me information as much as you can. It’s never stagnant, and it’s something I didn’t really have in my game. “
Saturday’s defeat was Houston’s seventh consecutive and eighth in nine games overall this season. The Rockets have been kept under 100 points four times during their losing streak.
Now they run into one of the NBA’s most impressive defenses, the one that took the Warriors to three straight wins and seven in eight games this season.
Golden State has capped its last three opponents – Oklahoma City, Charlotte and New Orleans – all to 92 points or less on their way to home wins by an average of 28.0 points.
One of the leaders of the defensive charge was Gary Payton II, who has five steals and a block during the winning streak.
He also found time for 17 points in 18 minutes against the Pelicans on a reserve that also included Nemanja Bjelica (13 points) and Andre Iguodala (10 assists).
“It’s really a weapon,” Warriors manager Steve Kerr said of Payton. “He’s really a dynamic player, and I think the harmony with this year’s team is so good because he’s been shooting around him. We can almost reverse the offense. Now Gary can become the pilot, and then we have our heavyweights – Beli (Bjelica) and Otto (Porter Jr.) – off the 3-point line. It’s an interesting and different aspect. “
The Warriors wiped out the three-game streak from the Rockets last season, averaging 28.7 points and a total of 17 3-pointers from Curry.
He enters the match on Sunday after scoring 20 points or less in three consecutive games, which equates to his longest run since February 2019.
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