San Antonio came into the evening surrendering the fewest points per game in the NBA, 97.5, and the league’s best record at home, 22-4. Then James Harden happened.
The red and yellow MVP frontrunner dropped 28 points on 10-20 shooting while dishing 11 assists. The quality stat line broke The Beard’s streak of games with a 60 point triple double at one.
A sloppy start gave way to an impressive first half where Houston’s active defensive switching held San Antonio to 38 points. LaMarcus Aldridge shredded Clint Capela on the baseline, but it appears to have been by design of the Rockets defense as they dared every other Spur to beat them.
Houston’s defense faltered in the second half, but the lead had already ballooned to twenty. In the fourth the Spurs chipped the lead down to six points, then Chris Paul arrived.
As the Rockets were in the midst of 11 straight three point misses Chris Paul diversified the offense. With just 4 points in a rare invisible performance the Point Gawd walked the ball up the floor for three straight mid-range jumpers to reestablish the lead.
- Clint Capela finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks while feeding from a constant stream of Harden alley-oops.
- Ryan Anderson established a three point shot in the first quarter with three straight deep makes. Then he returned to his turtle shell with one basket and two free throws for 13 total points.
- Gerald Green started hot and ended with a 3-11 mark from three point range.
At the end of the evening the Spurs looked plucky but decidedly over matched. Gregg Popovich is performing a miracle by putting the Spurs at 3rd in the Western Conference, but without Kawhi Leonard they didn’t have the firepower or Beard-answer to control the game.
The Houston Rockets still have only a single loss when James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela play.