This game continued the trend where the Rockets have begun to look a lot more like the team fielded last year. James Harden led the way with a season-high 43 points, nine assists and four steals.
Complementing Harden was Clint Capela, who scored a season-high 27 points while grabbing 15 boards and blocking four shots. Chris Paul also performed well, scoring 20 and dishing out seven assists.
The first half saw the Rockets struggling to contain the Detroit bigs in Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. With Detroit’s traditional two-big lineup, it exposed some mismatches for the Rockets early and often. Griffin’s 37 points and 11 rebounds led the way while Drummond notched 20 points and 11 boards.
The Rockets gathered a bit of a rhythm in the third quarter when the team shot 60 percent in the frame. Houston won the quarter 37-26 and a one-point halftime deficit turned into a double-digit lead going into the fourth quarter.
The one moment that went against the grain for the Rockets was P.J. Tucker’s ejection in the third quarter arguing a call where he believed Blake Griffin fouled him. His ejection came with 4:32 left in the third and he left with six points and a team-high +11. The team could have used his defense in the fourth quarter when the Pistons began to sink their outside shots.
As a team, Detroit shot 16-34 (47 percent) from beyond and made 6-12 threes in the fourth. Griffin mainly led the charge and brought the team to within four with a minute to go, but the Pistons committed two turnovers and could not capitalize on the opportunities presented to them, leading to a Rockets win.
The cherry on top tonight came in the fourth quarter when Harden made some franchise history, surpassing Rockets legend Rudy Tomjanovich for third on Houston’s all-time scoring list.
Now, the Rockets head into Thanksgiving thankful for the fact that the ship is now steering in the right direction. The Rockets will travel back with the Pistons to Detroit to face them on Friday. Tipoff is at 6 CT.