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Rockets dump Nets for fifth straight win

James Harden and Chris Paul send the Rockets past the Nets at the Toyota Center.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets came out on fire against the Brooklyn Nets, putting up 43 points in the opening period, and never lost the lead on their way to a 117-103 win and their fifth consecutive victory.

James Harden finished with 37 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks, and he shot 13-20 from the field and 8-13 from beyond the arc. He was scorching from the start, putting up 20 points in the first frame on 6-6 shooting and finished the first half 9-10 overall from the field.

In addition to Harden’s big night, the Rockets also got 14 assists from Chris Paul. He shot just 1-7, but he was dazzling with his distribution to make up for his wayward shot.

Despite their big lead to start the game, the Rockets did lose a bit of focus in the middle frames. At one point in the third period, the Nets used a combination of bad Houston defense and some surprising zone defense of their own to catch the Rockets off guard and cut the lead to four points at 69-65, but they would get no closer, and The Beard stepped back on the gas to put the game away for good.

Houston’s 43-point first period represented their second straight opening frame with at least 40-points, and it was their 10th time scoring 30 or more in the first in their last 11 contests. And despite some occasionally sloppy defense, overall Houston held the Nets to 46 percent from the field for the game and just 10-39 from deep.

Stepping up alongside Harden and Paul were Clint Capela, who finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks, Ryan Anderson, who finished with 13 points, Eric Gordon, who put in 12, and Trevor Ariza, who finished with 11 points and 6 rebounds to round out the Houston players in double figures.

The Nets were led by Isaiah Whitehead, who finished with 24 points, and Spencer Dinwiddie, who had 14 points and 7 assists, but Brooklyn, despite playing well at times, were playing shorthanded and simply lacked the firepower to keep up with the Rockets for any kind of extended period. Houston ultimately turned on the gas when they needed to, and the Nets just had no answer for the Rockets’ stars.

With the win, Houston now moves to 16-4 on the season and remains in the top spot in the Western Conference standings. They’ll take Tuesday night off before playing at the Toyota Center again on Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers, where they’ll be looking for their sixth consecutive victory.