It happened almost exactly halfway through the first quarter: Josh Smith tried to post up Klay Thompson, spun to the middle, and put up and awkward shot as he fell — right into Dwight Howard’s knee.
Howard left the game and went back to the Rockets’ locker room, but returned by the end of the first quarter.
However, he was never the same — he didn’t move as well, and the Warriors took advantage. Because of Howard Houston led the points in the paint battle 20-6 after the first quarter. The last three quarters the Warriors won the points in the paint race 44-32. What’s more, the injury allowed the Warriors to play small, with Draymond Green at the five, which was the most effective lineup for Golden State. The Warriors went on to win 110-106 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Howard’s status for Game 2 Thursday is up in the air.
If he can’t play, it takes away one of the weapons Houston needs this series — they need him to own the paint on both ends of the floor.
What the Rockets actually need is the active, aggressive Howard from the Clippers series. If he plays but is a shell of himself, it’s another advantage for a Warriors team already loaded with them.