For 18 minutes, the Rockets looked like they were going to sleepwalk through another mediocre performance against a non-contender, as John Henson put in an and-one with 5:54 remaining in the 2nd quarter to push the Milwaukee lead to 18. From there, the Rockets outscored the Bucks 85-53, embarrassing them in Milwaukee on their way to a 115-101 victory.
It was a wonderful night all around, but perhaps the most exciting part of it was watching Carlos Delfino splash threes in the Bucks' faces. At one point in the fourth, Delfino got the ball in the corner with a defender draped all over him, rose up and drilled the fadeaway three. At some point, I was convinced that Delfino had gotten all of Larry Bird's basketball prowess in a sort of Space Jam situation, but I'm not 100% sure on that.
Other than Delfino, the other two rotation bench players, Patterson and Douglas, also went off. Patterson made a bid to regain his starting spot with 18 points on 6-7 shooting and 3-4 from behind the arc (while Morris was 0-7 on a zero point night), and Douglas also had a cool 18 on a night that where Jeremy Lin struggled to score consistently.
Watching Delfino jack up threes on nights where he isn't hitting anything is painful, but tonight all that pain was worth the reward, with perhaps Delfino's most swaggerific night yet.
Also worth noting was James Harden's remarkable performance:
(ELIAS) James Harden: 11th straight game with 25+ points, tied with Moses Malone for 3rd-longest such streak in team history— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 5, 2013
With a workingman's 29 and 7, Harden managed his 11th straight 25+ points game, and continues to impress with his remarkable consistency. Early in the year as he was getting accustomed to the Rockets, there were fears that his lack of experience as an alpha dog would cause him to be inconsistent at times.
Through his first 32 games as a Rocket, all Harden has done is put all those fears to rest as he's established himself as the preeminent young two-guard in the league. Including tonight's game, Harden is averaging 26.3 points per game, the most since Hakeem Olajuwon's 1995-96 campaing (26.9).
If he keeps this improvement up, let's hope that some free agents are paying attention.