The Rockets pulled out their ninth straight win and defeated the Pelicans 122-100 in a game in which several records were broken.
James Harden earned another triple-double, his second in a row, and the 15th of his career. With the triple-double, he passes Hakeem Olajuwon for most in team history. Considering Olajuwon had 14 triple-doubles in 16 years with the Rockets and Harden has had 15 in just five years shows how brilliant of a basketball player he is and how the game has evolved.
Another way the game has evolved recently is the volume of threes, and the Rockets have taken that idea and put it on steroids this season. Houston shot 61 threes and made 24 of them, both NBA records. Trevor Ariza led the team in three-point attempts with 14, making 5, and ending the night with a solid 20 points. Eric Gordon, the league leader in three-pointers made, led the team with seven makes and had a season-high 29 points, all while coming off the bench.
The Rockets’ only real struggle tonight was finding a way to guard Anthony Davis. Houston likes to play small ball, but New Orleans does not, and that posed some matchup problems early. The Pelicans started the game with Davis at power forward and Alexis Ajinca at center and it is hard to stop two seven-footers when your team has zero on the court. I thought that this could pose a problem for the Rockets, but as the game went on, the Rockets found a way to neutralize Davis. AD ultimately left the game with an injury in the third quarter, but still managed to score 19 points.
For a team like the Pelicans, for as big as they are, I’m surprised they did not rebound as well as the Rockets did. The Rockets won the rebounding battle 57-47, with Patrick Beverley, Clint Capela, and Harden all with 11 apiece. This is also another big reason why the Rockets were able to keep this game from not getting close. They were up 11 after the first quarter, and never let the lead slip under double digits.
The only part of the game that was disappointing was that Beverley was two assists shy of a triple-double. Could you imagine two teammates having a triple-double in the same game? The last time two teammates did that was in 2007 when Jason Kidd and Vince Carter did it while they were Nets, and it was an overtime game. I have a feeling that if Beverley continues to play this way that it will happen at some point this season.
The game ball goes to the team for this game. Ariza was hot from beyond the line, Gordon continued to build his Sixth Man of the Year case, Beverley was solid and Harden was incredible as usual. A little chemistry goes a long way with this bunch and they now have their longest franchise winning streak at nine games since their historic, 22-game win streak back in 2008.
They will try to extend that streak to 10 games tomorrow night as they head up to frigid Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves, losers of eight of their last 10. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. Central.