Led by James Harden's 45 points, the Rockets moved to 2-0 after dropping the Atlanta Hawks, 109 to 102. The first half started smoothly enough with the Rockets looking in control of the action. The Hawks sought to push the ball and realized early that the Rockets were shooting the three-ball terribly. Unfortunately for the Hawks, Omer Asik was a black hole for the boards.
The entire Rockets team crashed the offensive glass and managed to keep several possessions alive long after they should have died. On that same consideration, they failed miserably at taking care of the ball and the Hawks kept the game close. A late run capped by a first half drought-breaking three pointer (Which turned out to be a 4-point play) helped the Rockets cruise into halftime with a 9 point lead.
The second half story is one plagued with more turnovers and miscues. The only thing the Rockets were consistently bailed out by was their constant effort on the offensive boards and James Harden’s heroics. The second half highlighted the fact that the Rockets can get flustered easily and will quit defensively. The Rockets gave up several breaks where the last second or third man back just didn’t care enough to chase his man down. Harden put together yet another inspired performance and kept the red alive. More to the point, James Harden looked at his previous career high and said "That’s not good enough of a career high for an 80-million-dollar-man. I’m gonna run train on this thing." 45 points. Let that sink in.
I do want to eat a bit of humble pie on this: Marcus Morris actually showed a glimpse of what he could do if he forgot how bad he sucked every once in a while. The Houston bench was largely unremarkable and allowed the Hawks to take a brief lead in the fourth quarter. Omer Asik put on a clinic on how to get after the ball, eat up space, and rebound the ball and, thank everything holy because we needed it. Asik recorded nearly 1 rebound to every turnover.
Jeremy Lin showed some question marks on his game that we all knew existed in that, when pressured, he starts to turn the ball over (though on the game, he only had three). Overall, Lin played a great game, nearly recording a triple-double. But to be sure, hopefully as the season continues and he gets acclimated to James Harden playing hero, those turnovers will go down. The rest of the team really needs to cut down on the sloppy passing and unforced turnovers.
Notable stat lines: Harden (45 points/2 assists/7 rebounds), Lin (21 points/7 assists/10 boards), Asik (0 points/19 rebounds/1 block).
An in-depth recap will follow tomorrow morning/later tonight.