James Harden scored 28 points, and he cashed a three with 34 seconds left and then followed that up with a poke steal of a red-hot Victor Oladipo to help send the Houston Rockets to a 98-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers for their third consecutive victory.
The Rockets started the game off hot, getting to the bucket and draining three-pointers in a vintage display of their basketball philosophy, but the Pacers, a fine defensive squad, really turned up the heat in the second and third quarters.
In fact, they forced 8 Houston turnovers in the third period while allowing the Rockets just 6 field goals in the quarter to take a 75-69 lead into the fourth.
Carmelo Anthony, who was quiet the majority of the game until the final period, and James Ennis, who shot well all night, kept the Rockets in it in the final frame with some timely makes, leading up to Harden’s heroics to finish off the night.
In addition to The Beard’s clutch performance, the Rockets also got 18 points and 10 boards from Clint Capela, which was his career-high sixth-straight double-double. They also got 13 from James Ennis, 9 points and 13 assists from Chris Paul, 9 points from P.J. Tucker, and 8 from Anthony.
The Rockets shot just 44 percent overall from the field and were only 15-47 from deep, but the defense stepped up when needed, holding the Pacers to just 44 percent overall and 8-28 from beyond the arc.
The Rockets were also pretty sloppy with the ball, committing 16 turnovers, but they also forced 15 to almost even up the score in that column.
It was a fine performance against an Indiana squad that came into the night winners of 7 of their first 10 games, and the Pacers are well-regarded as one of the league’s more rugged defensive squads. The Rockets felt that wrath, but overcame it in what was their most impressive victory of the year to date.
Houston now moves to 4-5 on the season, and it appears that the team is finally coming together after a slow start. They have the next two nights off in a row before returning to action on Thursday night on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It’ll be interesting to see how the Melo factor effects both teams when they meet up head-to-head.
For now though, enjoy the Rockets victory. They’re not yet dominating like last year’s squad, but they’re putting together victories, and the chemistry is sure to continue to improve as the team gets more acclimated to the new faces in the lineup.
Big win, Rockets!