James Harden scored 48 points, and Chris Paul returned to the lineup with a vintage double-double in just 21 minutes of action, while the Rockets set a franchise record with 90 points in the first half on their way to a 142-116 destruction of the Phoenix Suns.
Paul and Harden, who were last seen on the court together in the Rockets’ season-opening win over the Golden State Warriors, picked up right where they left off, and they really turned on the jets in the first half. So much so that The Bearded One told ESPN after the game, “I thought there was something wrong with the score.”
Paul finished with 11 points, 10 assists and 2 steals in limited time in his first game back after injury, and the Rockets are now 2-0 with CP3 in the lineup, scoring a whopping 264 total points in the two wins. Please tell me there’s no one left out there still questioning whether these two guys can play together?
Harden shot 12-22 overall and 6-11 from deep, and in addition to the prolific scoring, he also racked up 7 assists and 2 steals. He might be playing the best stretch of ball I’ve seen him play since joining the Rockets.
The Rockets also got plenty of help up and down the roster. Ryan Anderson scored 24 points and knocked down 6 triples. Clint Capela double-doubled once again with 11 points and 10 boards. He also swatted two shots. Eric Gordon scored 13 points. EG played just 26 minutes with Paul back in action. The Rockets also got 11 from Trevor Ariza and 10 from Nene to round out six Houston players in double figures.
The Suns were led by 23 points from Troy Daniels, and Greg Monroe, who was making his first start in Phoenix since arriving from the Milwaukee Bucks in the trade for Eric Bledsoe, looked pretty good in the middle, racking up 20 points and 11 boards. Devin Booker went for 18 points and 11 assists, while Josh Jackson scored 16 for an overmatched Suns squad.
The Rockets move to 12-4 with the win, and have now moved back to the top of the Western Conference standings, as the Warriors fell to the Boston Celtics earlier in the evening.
The Rockets play again on Saturday night in Memphis against the Grizzlies, rounding out the fourth and final game of their season series before we even hit December. The Grizz have handed the Rockets two of their four defeats, and I’ve been curious to find out how Houston looks against Memphis with Paul in the lineup.
If his first game back is any indication, expect them to look just fine indeed.