This game was over when the first quarter ended. The Rockets came out of the gate behind Terrence Jones' 11 points and Dwight Howard's 9 point and 9 rebound first quarter to take a 31-12 lead and from there they didn't look back, building a 26 point lead that they used to cushion them as they coasted to a 105-83 win.
The Rockets pulled out the win even though they ended the game 6-28 (21.4%) from 3 point range despite starting including a 4-25 streak to close the game after a 2-3 start. This is one of those games where even though the Rockets' shots weren't falling, they were executing and out-playing the Warriors in every other aspect which led them to this win.
James Harden's bounce-back night:
Harden shot 0-10 from 3 against the Suns in the Rockets' last game and only accounted for 14 points in that game. WIth the Rockets in need of a win and Harden needing to get his rhythm back, he came through. Harden shot 13-22 from the field and 7-9 from the charity stripe, totaling to 34 points on the game. What makes this night even more impressive for Harden is that he knew his shot hadn't been falling, so he attacked the lane where he is at his best. Tonight, only 3 of his 22 field goal attempts came from behind the arc. I hope Harden keeps this attacking mentality throughout the season because not only does it make him a more effective player, it makes the Rockets team as a whole better.
You know what also makes your team play better? Playing defense. Harden showed something somewhat similar to defensive focus during the first half tonight. He accounted for both a steal and a block on defense and he also beat the Warriors team down the court on several occasions to get uncontested dunks. Overall, it was a solid night for Harden and a good way for him to get his rhythm back.
The Rockets' Defense Shows Up For Once:
Golden State ranked 27th in the league in turnovers coming into this game and they might drop a spot or two after their performance tonight. They turned the ball over 22 times (6 above their average) to the Rockets' 16 (2 below their average). The Rockets showed good team defense by getting hands into the passing lanes and capitalizing afterwards by accounting for a shit ton (metric measurement for a lot) of points off turnovers.
The defense on the "Splash Bros" (what a stupid nickname) was stellar. Chandler Parsons (who guarded Klay for most of the night) and Patrick Beverley held Curry and Thompson to a total of 27 points on 7-24 shooting (1-9 from 3). Additionally, the Rockets did a great job defending the paint tonight by blocking shots left and right. They ended the game with 9 blocks, 4 of which were from Francisco Garcia and 3 others from Terrence Jones.
Overall, they held the Warriors to 27-76 (35.5%) shooting and 2-16 from 3 point range. The Rockets need to step up their defense like they did tonight more often. Maybe then there won't be questions on whether or not this is a championship caliber team if they do.
Chandler Parsons' Return From Injury:
I was reading an article by Jason Friedman back from 2007 when Daryl Morey recently got hired. It talked about the Shane Battier trade and how Battier might not stand out on the stat sheet, but whenever he's on the court the other team shoots worse, his team shoots better, rebounds better, and turns the ball over less. Chandler Parsons seems to be that guy, just better individually. Despite not having a standout game tonight, his presence seemed to be the key difference in the Rockets' play. It's like McHale said earlier in the season, "Whichever team Chandler is on tends to always win." That speaks highly of Chandler and what he means as the glue for this Rockets team.
The Rockets stay in Houston as the Magic come to town to play on Sunday. Let's hope the Rockets can use the momentum from this game to secure another easy win.