The Houston Rockets came out of the gates clearly sluggish on the second game of a back-to-back after barely getting by Denver the evening before, and at least in the first half, it appeared as though it was going to be a long night.
They scored just 39 first-half points and only 19 in the first quarter, their lowest total to open up any game this year, and they headed into the halftime break down 44-39. But they battled back in the second half behind James Harden and Luc Mbah a Moute to get by the tough Jazz 96-85 for their 13th consecutive victory.
Harden led the way with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists, and he scored 11 of those points in the third quarter to help spark the Houston comeback after the team shot just 36 percent in the first half and made only two threes before the break, their fewest of the year.
And then The Beard gave way to Mbah a Moute, who scored 15 of his 17 total points in the fourth quarter to finish a perfect 7-7 from the field and help the Rockets get out of Utah with another victory. Mbah a Moute also added 3 boards, a block, and a steal and even played some center in a small-ball lineup to close out the night.
The Rockets finished the game shooting 43 percent from the field and knocking down nine triples, a respectable number considering the abominable start, and they did the opposite of what you’d expect from a leg-weary squad by stepping up their game in crunch time instead of getting tired. It broke their streak of 55 straight games with 10 three-pointers, by far an NBA record.
In addition to Harden and Luc, the Rockets also got support from Chris Paul, who finished with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals, and they also got 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals from Nene, 9 points from Trevor Ariza, 8 from Tarik Black, and 7 from Joe Johnson.
The win was all the more impressive considering that Houston was missing four rotation members in Eric Gordon, Clint Capela, Ryan Anderson, and Brandan Wright, but it was their quality depth that got them this win, and for that, you can thank GM Daryl Morey.
The Jazz were led by Rudy Gobert, who finished with 17 points and 6 rebounds, and they also had 16 from Donovan Mitchell, 14 from Ricky Rubio and 12 from Jae Crowder.
The Rockets now move to league-leading 47-13 record, and they maintain their half-game lead on the Golden State Warriors, who also won tonight.
They’ll now take a night off before returning to action again on Wednesday with another road game, playing at the Los Angeles Clippers, who are another team playing good ball in recent days. Something tells me the Rockets will be more than up to the task.