James Harden scored 47 points, including a dagger three-pointer with 13 seconds left to lift the Houston Rockets to a hard-fought 102-97 victory over the Utah Jazz.
James. Harden. Dagger. #Rockets | #PlayersOnly pic.twitter.com/BhF5HeTWig— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 18, 2018
In addition to his big night scoring, The Beard also went for 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals, as he scored 46 percent of all of Houston’s points. He’s now averaged 39.5 points during Houston’s four-game win streak that has the team finally back above .500, and he’s playing at as high of a level as any point we’ve seen him.
The Rockets also played some rough and tumble defense, keeping the Jazz under 100 points and also holding them to 39 percent shooting. Utah only had 37 points at halftime on 29 percent from the floor. Houston forced 23 Jazz turnovers.
Despite the four-game winning streak and Harden in the midst of a week-long supernova, you have to wonder how sustainable Houston’s offense is right now. They’ve been getting only minor production from the rest of the roster.
The Rockets shot just 37 percent from the field themselves, and as the games continue to pile up, one has to wonder if this is simply the new reality for both Chris Paul and Eric Gordon. Paul hit a clutch jumper and played good defense, but he was just 3-10 from the field for 11 points, 9 assists, and 4 steals. He’s shooting just 41 percent on the year. EG was 4-13 from the field for 12 points, and he remains mired in a season-long shooting slump even after entering the starting lineup.
Harden’s only real help offensively came from P.J. Tucker, who finished with 16 points on 6-9 shooting, including 4-7 from three. Clint Capela scored just 5 points, but he was huge defensively, blocking 5 shots and grabbing 14 boards. And Houston’s bench was back to ineffective tonight, scoring just 11 total points on 3-15 combined shooting from Danuel House, Gerald Green, Brandon Knight, and Nene.
You’re also going to hear a whole lot on NBA twitter tonight about a James Harden stepback that wasn’t called a travel. NBA Twitter is already in mega-meltdown mode. As if one missed call would erase 40-burger Harden laid on ‘em. You be the judge:
"It looked like he did two step backs." pic.twitter.com/k0V0AQLStB— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 18, 2018
As for the Jazz, they were led by Donovan Mitchell, who finished with 23 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals, Rudy Gobert with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks, 14 from Jae Crowder, and 12 from Ricky Rubio.
The Rockets now move to 15-14 on the season, and they’ll return to the hardwood on Wednesday night, staying at the Toyota Center for a match up with the Washington Wizards.