The game was won entirely in the first twelve minutes for Houston. Coming off of a fourth quarter come-from-behind win 24 hours ago in Denver, the Clippers looked fried and the Rockets took advantage. Los Angeles scored just 12 points in the opening frame, a season-low, and James Harden, by himself, had 17 points in the first quarter. He finished the game with a team-high 25.
Three of Harden’s 25 points came in the form of arguably the filthiest play in the NBA this season where Wesley Johnson’s ankles disintegrated on live television. Warning: the following clip is NSFW, Not Safe For Wesley (Johnson).
After the play, it seemed like the air and the energy in the arena had vanished. However, after their lackluster first quarter, the Clippers struggled to miss. Despite trailing by as much as 27 points, the Clippers did not go and hide in the secret tunnel. Los Angeles continued to play the game and pulled themselves back in it thanks to Tobias Harris, who scored a team-high 24 points and former Rocket Montrezl Harrell, who scored 22 off the bench and played one of the best games of his life.
The Clippers brought the deficit to as low as eight points, but the Rockets would not allow it to get lower than that. Clint Capela and Eric Gordon were major parts of that. Capela scored 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and Gordon, who returned tonight after missing the last three games due to illness, dropped 22 points as well off the bench.
With the win, Houston has now won 14 consecutive contests and are the fifth team in NBA history to amass two such streaks in one season. The last time a team accomplished the feat was the 2006-07 Suns, who were also coached by Mike D’Antoni. MDA is the first coach to do so on two separate occasions.
Houston also managed to go undefeated for an entire month for the first time since February 2008, where the Rockets eventually won 22 straight games. Where this streak takes the Rockets remains a mystery, but this team looks like they could win their way all the way to the Finals, they are that good.
Let’s see if they can continue their winning ways on Saturday night when the Celtics come to town. Tipoff is at 7:30 CT.