Houston started out the gates strong and were in control for most of the game. James Harden lead all scorers with 29 points and Clint Capela achieved another double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds. It was the Rockets’ eighth win in their last nine games and they stayed at the top of the Western Conference with the win.
The Rockets were able to develop an excellent rhythm from downtown and were scoring at an above-average rate in the first half. They made seven of their first 15 threes and their threes compared with Memphis’s twos had them rush out to an 18-point lead.
The Grizzlies were able to get that lead to just two points after a 21-5 run brought Memphis into the game. However, Houston closed out the second quarter on a 9-1 run and entered the half up 59-50. Seven of the points on the run to close the half came from Eric Gordon, who had 12 points off the bench and was a team-high +27.
The second half saw more domination from the Rockets, especially on the defensive end. Houston held Memphis to just 33 second-half points and were able to neutralize the team’s biggest offensive weapons. Marc Gasol shot 6-17 from the field with just 15 points. Tyreke Evans, who averages 18.5 PPG, shot 3-10 from the floor, resulting in only seven points off the bench.
The Grizzlies’ best scorer? Familiar face Chandler Parsons.
Parsons was the leading scorer the last time the two teams met in Memphis last month and found himself in the same position again tonight. His 17 points lead the team as he shot 7-9 from the field.
The Grizzlies shot 36 percent from the free throw line and outside of their 21-5 run at the end of the second quarter, the team looked lethargic tonight. Memphis definitely missed Mike Conley, who did not play with an Achilles injury, and Houston took advantage tonight.
Chris Paul had a season-high 17 points tonight in 24 minutes. It looks like he will be gradually be featured more as each game progresses. However, his 24 minutes were very good minutes tonight. Early in the game, with CP3 and Harden both on the court, it looked like both got equal opportunities to facilitate the offense and bring up the ball.
He is fitting into the offense much smoother than originally imagined and it is only going to improve as the season progresses. If he is playing like this in November, I can’t wait to see what he will be able to do in April, May, and hopefully June.
This was a very interesting road trip that saw the Rockets win both games in convincing fashion. However, the way they won the games were entirely different. Houston’s offense exploded Thursday night and the defense came through tonight. If anything, this shows how versatile this team is and it should not be something to overlook.
The team goes 2-0 on their quick road trip as they get a good break before they take on the Denver Nuggets at home Wednesday night. Tipoff is at 7 PM CT.