The Houston Rockets, by almost all accounts, are just better than the Philadelphia 76ers. They started a little slow, and Joel Embiid started pretty fast, but that didn’t last very long.
James Harden went 8-8 in the first quarter and ended up with 23 points. This meant his assist and rebound numbers were "down," but that’s all pretty relative with the Beard this season. Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela played some of their best defense of the season as the Rockets opened up an early lead.
Everything but Harden’s heat continued into the second quarter. The Houston bench did a good job of running, though Corey Brewer did continue to struggle. He made a great block followed by a charge followed by a good pass followed by an absurd foul. The King of Doin’ Too Much, Brewer, in a lot of ways, didn’t look like he knew what he was doing out there.
That was pretty offset by the starters, though. Eric Gordon continued his hot streak. Ryan Anderson continues to get more comfortable. And the Rockets started to run a lot more. Whether it’s against Philly or not, we know D’Antoni loves to see that.
Harden got hot again in the third, though he had a lot more room for heat checks. After a couple huge runs, the Rockets opened up a 29-point lead. Embiid’s size really deterred Harden from the lob tonight, but that didn’t stop Capela from having arguably his best game of the season. He added 12 boards and 5 blocks and the Sixers to only 16 points by the end of the third.
I don’t remember but maybe one blowout from last season, but that’s what this game turned into. And yet, for some reason still beyond my understanding, KJ McDaniels played 0 of the first 40 minutes. I guess that’s not that noteworthy, but it is true. Houston coasted to a 115-88 victory.
The Rockets are a lot better than the 76ers; this much is true. But they were last year, too. I remember watching Houston struggle to get a lead, much less keep it, against Philly last year. It was awful, and anxiety inducing. Call me crazy, but this easy blowout made me think even more that the Rockets are on the right track… Even if Harden couldn’t get that triple double (he ended with 33/9/7).
The Rockets travel to OKC on Wednesday.