Houston started off the game sloppy and lethargic and only managed 22 points in the opening frame. Balls were being deflected in passing lanes, shots were not falling, and calls were not going the Rockets’ way. All of the above combined with a stingy Pacer defense had the Rockets trailing after the first quarter.
The Pacers were contesting nearly every three-pointer the Rockets would take, which forced the Rockets to drive into the lane and try to make many difficult twos as the Rockets would be greeted by Pacers big man Myles Turner in the middle. Houston only made three triples in the first half, and it led to only 54 first half points as Indiana was only trailing by five going into the second half.
Simply put, the Pacers did not have the stamina to play that type of defense in the second half. Houston made 15 threes in the second half and shot 18-40 overall in the game. Houston made 11 more threes than Indiana tonight, making that a +33 in the box score. The Rockets and the Pacers both made 42 shots as a team, but considering how the Rockets won by 21, it shows how valuable the three-point shot truly is.
Had Indiana taken more threes, perhaps they would have made this game a lot closer. In fact, the Pacers came into tonight’s game with the best three-point percentage in the league, shooting 40.9 percent from distance. Bojan Bogdanovic, Cory Joseph, and Victor Oladipo are all in the top 20 in 3-point percentage this season, yet they only made four threes amongst the trio.
Leading the Pacers in scoring tonight, however, was Thaddeus Young who had 23 points on 11-15 shooting. The Rockets had no answer for him simply because they could not find a rhythm in defending the stretch four position tonight. It’s one of the Rockets’ weaknesses that they tried to address in free agency with P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute, but they have been focused on defending more higher volume scorers as opposed to stretch fours. Hopefully they can work out the kinks as the season rolls along.
Houston was led by James Harden’s 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. All five starters scored in double figures, making it the fourth time this season the Rockets’ starting unit has accomplished that feat. Eric Gordon also led bench scorers with 10 points of his own.
The team enjoyed a very strong night from Ryan Anderson, who scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds, one shy of a double-double. Anderson made five of his nine threes and did a very nice job cleaning the glass tonight. Houston won the rebounding battle tonight, 39-30.
The team also improved to 7-0 when Chris Paul plays. The team had a similar effect last season when Patrick Beverley came back from his injury this time a year ago and the Rockets enjoyed an incredible win streak. The CP3-Harden backcourt looks like it is working beautifully. The pair combined for 17 assists tonight and the Rockets continued to prove why they are one of the best teams the league has to offer.
Houston now improves to 17-4 and finishes the month of November with a 12-1 mark. Their play in the month of December begins Sunday evening as the Rockets begin their three-game West coast road trip by taking on the Lakers. Tipoff is at 8:30 CT.