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Golden State Warriors not keying on Houston Rockets as lone title-defense threat

From NBA media reports

* Tonight on TNT: Warriors vs. Rockets (8 ET)

Rockets GM Daryl Morey turned heads last month when he told ESPN Radio that beating the defending-champion Golden State Warriors is “the only thing” Houston thinks about. The same can’t be said for the Rockets’ target, though.

In an interview with ESPN’s Chris Haynes, stars Kevin Durant and Draymond Green said the Warriors don’t worry about the Rockets knocking them from their perch more than they do any other team in the league.

“It’s no disrespect,” Warriors forward Durant told ESPN, “but we’re not coming in every day saying we’re just thinking about Houston. We know how great they are. We know it’s a team that’s going to be contending for a title along with us and couple other teams. But we’re focusing on ourselves right now.”

“Every team’s a threat,” Green said. “You can lose to anybody.”

“You’ve got San Antonio, you’ve got Houston, you’ve got Boston, you’ve got Cleveland obviously, you’ve got OKC, who I think it’s tough. … You’ve got Minnesota,” Durant told ESPN. “The great thing about this game is it’s a matter of movement. Players can move and, boom, you’re a contender. [Chris Paul] comes over there, and it changes the whole [Houston] franchise around. You’ve got to love it.”

The Rockets sit two games behind the Warriors for No. 1 in the Western Conference. To Durant’s point, the San Antonio Spurs (4 1/2 games) and Minnesota Timberwolves (6 1/2 games) are somewhat within striking range of the Warriors’ spot as well. To Green, though, worrying about a game in early January just doesn’t seem to make much sense:

“My viewpoint as far as them making moves for us, I respect that,” Green told ESPN. “The goal is to win a championship, and if you’re not trying to win a championship, then what are you doing it for?

“So I respect that they’re trying to make moves being that we’re the defending champions. But I’m not going into Game 39 of the season talking about we got to beat the Houston Rockets because they’ve made moves to beat us. It’s just another game, and we’ll try to get better like we do every game.”

Durant praised the Rockets for the “nice formula” and style that they play and knows that topping his team is priority No. 1 in Houston.

“That’s what they’re supposed to think,” Durant told ESPN. “When you win a championship, everyone wants to beat you, and they’re one of the closest teams to us as far as how we play, how we move, how we shoot the 3.

“We know they want to beat us, but that only makes us better and it only makes the competition even better when you’re out there on the court. It’s just fun. It’s fun for the fans, it’s fun for the players, it’s fun for the game in general. We’ll see what happens.”

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