"James Harden why did you ruin Christmas in San Antonio?" That's how we started the ESPN post game interview with Harden.
Ignoring that. We here at The Dream Shake would like to say: Happy Holidays Rockets fans.
The Rockets delivered their second win in San Antonio this year with a 111 - 98 victory.
Houston forced the pace of this game. The Spurs unquestionably have one of the best defenses in the league. However, the Rockets willingness to fly up and down the court forced the Spurs to try and match the pace.
Also, before getting to the nuts and bolts, how about watching the Rockets on Christmas Day? Turns out that having the league's best center and shooting guard gets you a prime spot on the NBA calendar. Relevance has never felt so good.
Also, also, Dwight Howard was an absolute man tonight.
With James Harden out Howard was the focal point of the offense. On the block. Feed Howard.
Tonight that wasn't the case as it was the last few games when Kevin McHale was "riding the horse." When Howard got the ball in the post he made Tiago Splitter regret being born.
He also dominated the glass. Even with Splitter and Duncan on the floor Dwight found 20 rebounds.
The Rockets started this game with a run and gun attitude that has almost come to define Houston Rockets victories this season. Chandler Parsons scored 14 points in the first quarter while bombing open threes created from the fast pace set by the Rockets.
Hot first quarter shooting didn't hurt as the Rockets shot 64% from the three point line the Rockets shot 6 - 9 including a 4 - 4 start from Chandler Parsons.
San Antonio failed to keep pace in the first quarter. In the first six minutes they stood in shock. The Spurs vaunted defense waited for the Rockets to start missing. Many times this season teams have waited for the Rockets to cool off and they've been rewarded.
The first quarter didn't have a cool moment. The Rockets dropped 40 points on one of the league's best D's and had to presume they were set to coast to victory.
The Spurs had other plans and found their giddy up in the second quarter, which started with a 10 - 2 San Antonio run.
From that point on the Rockets and Spurs found a groove and neither significantly deviated from it. The Spurs fought hard for their points finding bigger contributions from their bench than from their starters. Manu was the sole source of the Spurs offense in the second and third quarters. Perhaps the only source in the game.
The Spurs pushed hard to turn a 10 point deficit to 5 in the fourth quarter. Then James Harden happened.
In the first half Harden looked entirely lost when he didn't have the ball in his hands. I won't speculate on what he was trying to do, but he only looked in his element during a few monster drives. With the ball at the top of the three point line he took Danny Green all the way to the hole where he drained some extremely difficult layups.
In the fourth quarter, James Harden the all star made every person watching the game respect him. He went for 11 straight Rockets points with a flurry of mid range jumpers, runners and a three. The Spurs had no answer for Harden during a five minute period.
James Harden totaled 15 points in the fourth quarter.
The Spurs didn't look like the same team that came a bad bounce away from winning the NBA title last year. Tony Parker had six points -- SIX POINTS. Parker didn't find the penetration he normally feeds on and that makes him one of the league's best paint scorers.
There's no doubt that Dwight Howard's presence changes the expectations of charging guards, but Terrence Jones deserves a shout out for his work in the lane. He's not making spectacular blocks, but he's poking proding and making life miserable for anyone who tries to avoid Dwight.
The Spurs offense lacked any dynamic elements when Manu Ginobili was off the court. We can't call him ageless, he's most certainly aging, but the Spurs offense found life during his 25 minutes.
Also, are the Spurs getting fair value out of Tiago Splitter? He was brutalized by Dwight Howard tonight and didn't look like a dude who is expected to replace (in some part) Tim Duncan.
The Spurs are at their best when teams come to play with a mentality of "What do I have to do to beat the Spurs?" Tonight the Rockets showed up with a mentality of "We are going to play our game. Let's see if they can catch up."
The result is that the Spurs tried and couldn't find it.
The biggest holiday themed story from tonight is most certainly Chandler Parsons. With a new haircut and the inspiration of Patrick, a 10 year-old cancer patient, Parsons came out hot -- well hotter than usual.
He dropped four straight three pointers in the first quarter and looked poised to lead the game in scoring.
Parsons went cold(er) in the second half but still ended the game with 21 points on 8 - 14 shooting.
The first two weeks of the NBA season Chandler Parson's shot 10 - 38 from three. His shot was off. Tonight he was on.
I can only imagine how amped Patrick has to be. Today, we Rockets fans are all Patrick fans. We'll root for the youngster as loud as we root for the Rockets.
The only question we've got... can Chandler change his haircut every game?
Lin looked back in form tonight. At several points the Rockets were desperate for a basket and Lin came up big. When they needed, he stopped the bleeding while also serving up sweet passes for slashing moves to the basket.
Lin had seven assists on a night where the Rockets assist to FGM ratio is 62%.
Early in the year the Rockets failed to find easy assists. We're now seeing the results of a team that's building chemistry and coming together.
Someone told me I had to give Jeremy Lin props when he deserves it. Tonight he deserved it.
- James Harden went HAM in the 4Q. The Rockets don't win this game without Harden's 9 point streak.
- The Spurs played 12 players. The Rockets can't even put that many guys in uniforms. New Zealand's Aron Baynes was the last man off the bench for the Spurs.
- 3 - 13 in his last FT attempts. Perhaps he should go back to shooting on a single leg.
- Three Spurs starters posted single digit point totals -- Splitter, Parker, Belinelli.
- Isiah Canaan received his first NBA minute of play in garbage time.
- The Rockets shot 50% from three. 12 - 24.