Well, that was fun.
The Rockets finally got a drama-free win over the Sacramento Kings after losing their first two meetings of the season. Dwight Howard dominated, especially after DeMarcus Cousins left the game with an ankle injury. Howard finished the game with 26 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks.
Patrick Beverly was again the Rockets' catalyst, with a ridiculous +31 in 33 minutes and finished with six points, eight assists, six rebounds, three steals and no turnovers. <3
Sure, the Rockets were helped by Cousins and Rudy Gay going out with injury, but they were already winning when Gay went down, and it's not as if the Rockets -- missing Terrence Jones, Francisco Garcia and Omer Asik -- are a paragon of health at the moment. So they will take this win, and so will we. On to the recap:
Man, that was a rough start. The Rockets' only points in the first four minutes were a Dwight Howard layup, a Dwight Howard free throw and a Dwight Howard dunk. The Rockets were playing like it was a second half they had so little energy.
Halfway through the quarter, a switch flipped, particularly with Howard and James Harden. For a solid four-minute stretch, they were playing exactly as they should in an ideal world. Howard was blocking shots, drawing fouls and dominating DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson on the block. Harden was attacking the rim with abandon and distributing.
In the second quarter, the bench simply kept things going. Jeremy Lin filled his sixth man role to perfection, attacking and dishing and running the offense, while Omri Casspi hit a couple of key shots to keep the Kings at bay. By the time Dwight Howard came in, the game was starting to get out of hand and Superman just helped usher it over the top.
By halftime, Howard had 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Harden had 16 points and five assists and both were shooting well over 50 percent. The Rockets led by 11. The rout was on.
The second half, the third quarter especially, was just a blur of scoring for the Rockets and watching the Kings depressingly fold without their two best players. Omri Casspi exploded in the second half with a career-high 12 rebounds and 20 points on 9-15 shooting. This game was such a blowout that Robert Covington played 10 minutes. Ten!
Big picture: the Rockets needed this. It was great to see James Harden on the bench after early in the fourth quarter, his knees wrapped in ice. It was great seeing Howard joking on the bench while the second unit extended the Rockets' lead. Too many of their games against inferior competition have been too close for comfort or just straight up losses. After the first five minutes, this one felt in the bag the whole way through.
The Rockets are now 29-15, 18-6 at home, and they're still in fifth place in the Western Conference. Their next two games are against a surging Memphis Grizzlies teams that could present serious matchup problems if Terrence Jones is still not healthy. D-Mo has played well -- he had 9 rebounds tonight -- but Zach Randolph is going to be tough to deal with.