James Harden played just a couple of minutes in the fourth quarter, long enough to put the final nail in the Nets’ coffin and get his 12th triple-double of the season, going for 22-11-11. It’s crazy to think that just over a month ago, Harden got the 14th triple-double of his career, tying Hakeem Olajuwon’s franchise record. Now it seems painfully obvious that Harden will eclipse 20 triple-doubles this season and put a lot of space between him and the Dream in the box-score-filling stat.
But Harden wasn’t the only Rocket who succeeded in torturing Jeremy Lin’s new team (Lin was on the sideline for this one). Trevor Ariza poured in 14 points in the first quarter to spot the Rockets a lead while Harden waited to heat up. Ariza hit six Athreezas and finished with 18 points.
The second quarter turned into the Eric Gordon show as the Rockets’ second-leading scorer shook off the obvious rust he displayed Friday night against Memphis, pouring in 24 points on 9-14 shooting and 4-8 shooting from deep.
After only beating the Nets by four points in Houston, it was nice to see the Rockets hammer them on the road. The Nets have the worse record in the NBA by a comfortable margin, and they were without Lin and Brook Lopez. Even a close victory would have been discomfiting after back-to-back losses.
The Rockets face the team with the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference Tuesday night, and they’ll do it with their starting center back in action after a four-week absence caused by a broken fibula.
The return couldn’t be more well-timed. The team looked tired toward the end of their nine-game winning streak, and that carried over in their two losses. Nene and Montrezl Harrell have filled in admirably, but neither of them provide the same finishing ability or rim protection that Capela does.
Not only that, but he’s returning against the Heat, a team the Rockets should beat with or without him. If the Rockets feel comfortable, he’ll play in a back-to-back against the Bucks. If they don’t, Capela will ave a game under his belt for the Rockets’ first rematch against the Golden State Warriors on Friday.