December 1, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) shoots the basketball against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Rockets defeated the Warriors 132-127 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday night, the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets had the most new-school NBA game possible. 

One thing is clear: defense got put on the backburner between the Warriors and Rockets Thursday night. The Dubs by themselves have enough to go shot-for-shot with any team. Houston, though, cannot get overlooked.

James Harden has re-branded himself as a legitimate triple-double threat, and his incredible scoring ability allows him to rack up an absurd amount of assists on a nightly basis. He also happens to be one a legitimate threat from downtown, meaning Thursday’s game featured six guys who can knock down threes at an alarming rate.

Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are one trio, but Houston has their own trio with Harden, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson.

Durant is the only one of those six not in the top-ten for made threes.

Expectedly, two teams who love to shoot threes and play at a pace quicker than the Road Runner would launch an incessant amount of threes. And they did. By the end of the double overtime shootout, the Rockets had come away with the 132-127 win, which is shocking in and of itself. They beat Golden State at their own game, even though Ryan Anderson was the only one to have a good shooting night:

Rockets Players Threes Made/Attempted:

  • James Harden: 2-of-11
  • Ryan Anderson: 5-of-10
  • Eric Gordon: 4-of-9

Warriors Players Threes Made/Attempted

  • Stephen Curry: 4-of-13
  • Klay Thompson: 3-of-13
  • Kevin Durant: 3-of-11

In total, 88 threes got shot. Only 26 got made. For the first time in NBA history, two teams attempted 40-plus threes in the same game. Since 1984, 20 teams have had games with more than 40 threes, but 13 franchises had them come after 2010, according to Basketball-Reference.

Although the stats were similar, the way the Rockets and Warriors get those shots are considerably different. With Houston, it’s all Harden all the time. The NBA’s leader in assists handed out 13 more Thursday night, and it’s no secret the Rockets’ offense is Harden-centric. Since he’s so adept at getting to and finishing around the basket, the defense has no choice to collapse on him, and Houston’s front office hit the lottery this summer by signing Gordon and Anderson, two guys who will get plenty of open looks once Harden is swarmed.

Other times, he’ll make one pass; that’s it.

Harden is elite out of the pick-and-roll. Therefore, Golden State sends two defenders at him, allowing Sam Dekker to leak out to the corner.

It’s been paying off, and the Beard assists on six of the Rockets 14 made threes; Anderson had four alone.

With the Warriors, it’s entirely different. Steve Kerr doesn’t run an offense where his star player is expected to create every time down. Crisp ball movement is how Golden State gets so many open looks, and everyone on that team is willing to make the extra pass. Furthermore, they run actual sets, complete with an array of off-ball screens for Curry and Thompson.

Golden State has all five players involved in this play: three setting screens, one at the top and Curry burying the open three.

The scoring numbers are inflated because the game took six periods to complete and offense was clearly prioritized. Contests like this won’t become standard, but they’ll happen throughout the season, and it’s a way of telling the basketball world that the new-school play style is in full swing.

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