Improving Rockets set for home opener vs. Warriors

The result was the same, but for the Houston Rockets, the effort produced Friday marked a vast improvement over what was displayed in an embarrassing season-opening loss at Orlando.

After a 30-point loss to the Magic on Wednesday, the Rockets went down to the wire before relenting to the San Antonio Spurs in a 126-122 overtime loss that left them winless in advance of their home opener against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.

Draymond Green (ankle) is slated to make his season debut for the Warriors, who split their first two games.

As for the Rockets, the issues that plagued them at Orlando were prevalent at San Antonio. Houston committed 18 turnovers against the Spurs after recording 19 against the Magic, including four in the opening 1:42 of overtime.

The Rockets also missed 10 of 20 free throws in the game and were just 8 of 32 (25.0 percent) from 3-point range.

Despite those woes, the Rockets were in contention throughout, and the balanced scoring attack they hoped would be a staple with the offseason additions of Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks was showcased.

Alperen Sengun (25 points), VanVleet (24) and Jalen Green (22) all posted 20-plus points for Houston while shooting a combined 31 of 58 (53.4 percent).

Starting with the Warriors, Houston will play its next seven games at home. If there is an opportunity to generate early momentum, it will present itself in the coming weeks.

“It’s a little tough but it’s only Game 2,” Jalen Green said of the close loss. “You can’t really put too much pressure on ourselves about it. Everyone played really well and the best part about it is we’re going back to the crib. We’ve got a pretty long homestand, so that’s good news.

“Everybody fought hard, everybody played hard, we just didn’t close the game out, which is a very last-year thing for us. But … we’ve got 80 more of them so we’ll figure it out.”

The Warriors rode a standout performance from Stephen Curry to a 122-114 road victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday. Curry scored a game-high 41 points on 14-of-19 shooting, including 7-of-10 3-point shooting to usher a 29-point turnaround.

However, Curry is dealing with left foot soreness and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

After trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half, the Warriors rode Curry to an 18-point lead late in the fourth quarter before the Kings fashioned a frantic rally to within five points. Curry scored 16 points in the third quarter, and it was his 3-pointer with 43.4 seconds remaining that extended the lead to 120-112 and silenced Sacramento for good.

The Warriors needed every ounce of what Curry provided. Klay Thompson and Chris Paul combined for 28 points on 12-of-24 shooting while three others scored in double figures.

Still, Golden State leaned heavily on Curry to carry a disproportionate amount of the load and steer them to victory, yielding early-season queries regarding roster balance and whether the Warriors have the scoring depth to be a legitimate title contender.

“We’re just figuring out our team right now,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We’ve got a lot of talent, a lot of shooting, good young players. I really like our mix and I’m not worried about any of that stuff.”

Kerr is ready to welcome Green into the mix. The four-time All-Star missed the entire preseason after injuring his left ankle in late September.