The Houston Rockets won their fifth straight game tonight despite seemingly playing in mud for large stretches of the evening in Brooklyn against the Nets, but they used a big close to the third quarter by some reserves and a great finish by James Harden to down Brooklyn 123-113.
James Harden finished with 36 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists, and he hit three free throws off of a foul and then cashed a three-pointer with under a minute to play to seal the deal for the Rockets.
The Nets had used a 12-2 run late in the fourth quarter to close the score to 117-111, but they had no answer for the MVBeard with the game on the line and a Rockets-friendly crowd in attendance in BK chanting “MVP”.
Prior to Harden’s big finish, the Rockets needed a push from their bench in the third quarter to shake off some doldrums. After leading by as many as 11 points in the first half, Houston’s uneven play, especially on defense, allowed Brooklyn to get back in the game. The Nets actually took an 81-80 lead with just under 5 minutes to go in the third, their first lead since early in the first quarter, but super subs Eric Gordon, Gerald Green and Nene answered to spark a 16-2 run to close the third for Houston that gave them a 96-86 lead.
In addition to Harden’s big night, the Rockets also got 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists from Chris Paul. As usual, CP3’s mid-range game was impressive for Houston. They also 18 points, 11 boards, and 4 blocked shots from Clint Capela. This was Capela’s 26 double-double on the season, or one more than the 25 he had total in his career prior to this season. Houston also received 16 points from Green, who was the microwave man in just 18 minutes, and 13 from Gordon to round out the players in double figures.
The win didn’t come without a cost, however. Ryan Anderson went down about 3 minutes into the second period with a sprained ankle, and though he was initially deemed probable to return, he never did get back into the contest. It remains to be seen how serious the injury is, but for now his status for tomorrow night’s game against the Miami Heat is in serious doubt.
The Nets had a big game from DeMarre Carroll, who finished with 21 points, and they also got 15 points and 6 rebounds from Jahlil Okafor, 16 from Jarrett Allen, and 18 points and 9 assists from Spencer Dinwiddie.
The Rockets now move to 39-13 on the season, the best record in Rockets’ history through 52 games, and they stay hot on the heals of the first-place Golden State Warriors. They’ll continue their road trip tomorrow night in South Beach against a tough Heat squad.