The Rockets started out slowly tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks, but used big second and fourth quarters to eventually look like the Houston team we all know and love and grab a 111-92 blowout victory at the Toyota Center.
James Harden led Houston with 38 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 blocks, and Eric Gordon once again looked like a Sixth Man of the Year candidate after cooling off and battling injuries for a few games. He put up 25 points and drained 7 triples to help lead the Rockets to this big win at home.
The struggle was real early, however, as the Rockets came out in the first period looking mostly like the team that had lost the night before in Miami. They finally woke up in the second frame, however, and used an 18-0 run to take a 52-39 halftime lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the night.
Milwaukee did battle back a bit in the third behind some ridiculous play from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was virtually unstoppable at times and finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 blocks for the Bucks. But the Rockets used a three-point barrage in the fourth quarter, spearheaded mostly by Harden and Gordon, as the team combined to shoot 6-10 from beyond the arc in the period to ice the victory. We also got some vintage Beard shimmy shaking, which is always a pleasing sight, especially after the team had lost three out of its past four games prior.
Montrezl Harrell, who got the start tonight, finished with 12 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocked shots, and Clint Capela came off the bench to block two more, as the Rockets finished with a season high 12 blocks as a team. That aggressive defense helped hold the Bucks to just 39.9 percent from the field, as Milwaukee was mostly ineffective outside of the otherworldly play from the Greek Freak.
The Rockets also got 12 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks and 3 steals from Patrick Beverley, as he was a huge factor in the Rockets forcing 18 total Milwaukee turnovers on the night.
Houston now moves to 33-12 on the season with the victory, but perhaps most importantly, looked like the team we’ve been watching for the majority of the season rather than the one that’s been slumping this past week. That’s more pertinent than ever as the team heads into a weekend back-to-back set against Western Conference rivals the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies.
The Rockets should also get Ryan Anderson, who’s sat the last two games due to a flue bug, back in time for the weekend’s festivities. With Gordon mostly healthy again and Capela working back into shape, the Rockets should be at mostly full strength and officially out of their slump in time for Friday night’s tip-off at home against the Dubs.
The real Rockets are back, and not a moment too soon.