Not only did they throttle a solid, young team led by rising stars Buddy Hield (23 points) and De’Aaron Fox (19 points), but they easily beat a team that they should beat. The Rockets are still separating themselves against the middle and lower tier of the NBA, and this win tonight shows that they’re most likely still in that top tier.
On top of that, they capitalized on the momentum of three straight big wins, and they didn’t look back. That’s exactly what good teams do.
The Rockets offense looked absolutely incredible, scoring a season-high 132 points on 56-percent shooting.
Houston’s big three did what it did all last season and blew Sacramento out of the water. The trio of Chris Paul, James Harden, and Clint Capela combined for 81 points, 61% of Houston’s offense.
Chris Paul is emphatically shaking off criticisms of his play early this season. Paul put up 18 points in the first half on his way to a 24-point, 9-assist game on 7-of-9 shooting, 6-8 from the three-point line.
James Harden capitalized on the work Paul did in the first half and closed out the game for the Rockets with 21 points of his own in the second half. Harden led all scorers with 34 points and 9 assists on 10-17 shooting, 4-10 from three, 10-10 from the free-throw line.
Arguably the most impressive performance of the game came from Clint Capela. Capela had his second 20+-point game in three games, scoring 23 points on 11-of-14 shooting. It’s safe to say he’s back in full form after pulling down 16 total rebounds and rejecting 5 shots, including this ferocious block on Frank Mason.
While they were incredible on offense, the Rockets also seem to be in full swing on defense. Despite allowing the Kings to shoot 52-percent from the field in the first half, Houston turned up the intensity in the second half and allowed Sacramento to shoot only 45-percent from the field for the game.
Gerald Green made a notable return for the Rockets after missing three games with an ankle injury. And despite having some shooting woes early this season, Green went for 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting, 5-8 from three. His ankle looked great on this play, by the way.
Now on a four-game winning streak, the Rockets are above .500 for the first time this season at 8-7. Trending upward, they have a favorable five-game stretch up ahead until they have to face the Spurs in San Antonio on November 30. This is a great time for the Rockets to get some separation from the middle of the pack.