Rockets stave off Warriors 116-112

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Rockets bounce back to defeat Warriors 116-112 behind James Harden's 26 points and nine assists, Chandler Parsons added 23 and Dwight Howard was perfect from the free-throw line. Rockets move to 16-8.

The Houston Rockets defeat the Goldent State Warriors. It's starting to sound like a broken record. Going back to last season, the Rockets are 5-1 against the Mark Jackson coached Warriors. I'm not saying the Rockets have the Warriors' number, but as the victories agains them start to stack up, it could be looking that way.

Here's three quick thoughts on the game:

  1. Patrick Beverley for NBA All-Defensive First Team: Beverley is making a name for himself on the national stage. Beverley — who I nicknamed 'The Mitten' last season, as a nod to Gary Payton's moniker 'The Glove'  — put on another defensive show against one of the league's top point guards. Following Thursday's night game where he held Damian Lillard to eight points, he limited Stephen Curry to 20 points. Take into account that Curry scored nearly half of them from the free throw line. Beverley shadowed Curry and harrassed him into a  5 of 12 shooting night including 1 of 5 from behind the arc. Might be too early in the season but these past two nationally televised games might put Beverley in the discussion for the NBA All-Defensive Team.
  2. Rockets need size: The Rockets two back-up centers, Greg Smith and Omer Asik, are sidelined with injuries and it's clear Houston missed them in this game. When Howard picked up his fifth foul at the 9:55 mark, Kelvin Sampson had no other choice but to take the big man out. This allowed Marcus Speights and the rest of the Warriors to feast on easy layups with no rim protector in the lane for Houston. Reports indicate that Smith could be back by Sunday's game against the Kings and he's return will be a welcome sight for coaches and teammates. Whatever happens with Asik — for the record I hope he stays — it's clear the Rockets are going to need big bodies besides Smith to back-up Howard. Donatas Motiejunas, for all the praise he received his first year, seems to have regressed a bit. If he can find his game again, that could aid the Rockets. Of course, some more playing time couldn't hurt
  3. Fourt quarter slow starts: For the second night in a row the Rockets started the fourth quarter as if it was a preseason game. There was a lack of energy and it showed as the Warriors used the Rockets sluggish play to crawl back into the game. Houston didn't registered it's first points of the quarter until the 9:07 mark when Chandler Parsons threw up a shot to beat the 24-second shot clock. Luckily, Houston was able to weather the storm, but better teams — like the Portland Trail Blazers — will make the Rockets pay.
Player Grades:

Patrick Beverley: 16 points (8)
Besides being Curry's shadow for most of the game, 'The Mitten' hit some key shots down the stretch when the Rockets badly needed points. With less than a two minutes to go, Beverley scored back-to-back baskets to push the Houston lead from three to seven. Essentially icing the game before the Warriors started fouling intentiionally.

James Harden: 26 points and nine assists (7)
Harden had his usual game and was an assist shy from a double-double. He had a two monster dunks, one in each house, that are sure to make SportCenter's Top Ten plays. It's clear that Harden is struggling from behind the arc but the season is still a young one. His stroke should return sooner rather than later.

Chandler Parsons: 23 points (7)
Parsons is slowly working his way back from that back injury that sidelined him a couple games ago. This was one of his better games but he could be seen wincing at times. Parsons had an efficient game and delivered when called upon. As his back starts to heal, he should return to playing the brand of basketball that Rockets fans are accustomed to. I do have one question for you Dream Shakers out there, Parson and Klay Thompson were taken in the same draft, if both are coming out of the draft again, who do you pick?

Terrance Jones: 7 points and eight rebounds (5)
Jones had a tough night trying to stop David Lee, who scorched the Rockets for 23 points and 10 rebounds. Most of Lee's damage came in the first half but it's clear that Jones is not the best defensive post player. He's not bad, but not good neither. This comes on the heels of LaMarcus Aldridge's MVP caliber performance on Thursday night. Jones is still a young player and one of the aspects he will need to work on is on the defensive side of the ball.

Dwight Howard: 18 points, 11 rebounds and 7-7 from the free throw line (7)
You read that stat line correctly. Howard was perfect from the free throw line. He's had one other occurance where he shot the ball better, back in 2005 with the Magic, Howard went 8-8 from the line. What will be remembered from this game was Howard's three-pointer from the corner to beat the 24-second shot clock. The made shot got the Rockets bench up off their seats. Even Asik had a smile on his face. For the record, Howard is now 1-3 from behind the arc. He had one less made three-pointer than Thompson and Curry combined in the game.

Rockets bench: 26 points and seven rebounds (7)
The bench stepped up when it need to. On the plus side, it was nice to see D-Mo get some minutes. He seems to be in a funk and the only way to get out of it is to play yourself out of it.

What are your thoughts on the game? Would you draft Thomspon or Parsons if the draft were to be held today? Should the Rockets run a play to get Howard open for a corner three? What grades would you give the Rockets?

As always you can follow me on twitter @jhacevedo for more Rockets talk.
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