The victory marks the ninth consecutive win for the Rockets and the team continues to inch closer to clinching the top seed in the West and homecourt advantage throughout the NBA Playoffs. If the Warriors lose tonight (the Jazz were winning by 20-plus in the third), the margin will be 5.5 games.
The Rockets took control from the start and never let go. James Harden notched just his fourth triple-double of the season (It feels like he’s had more for some reason.) with 18 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists despite not checking in during the fourth quarter. The Rockets were up 20 after the third and there was no reason to play Harden. All five starters and Gerald Green scored in double figures and the Rockets maintained a balanced, high-octane offensive attack throughout the contest.
At halftime, the Rockets made 14 threes on just 28 attempts, good for 50 percent. Throughout the entire game, the Rockets shot 49.4 percent from the floor and nobody had an “off” night.
From the Hawks, former Rocket Isaiah Taylor stepped into the starting lineup for the injured Dennis Schroder and had arguably the best game of his career. His 26 points were a career-high for the second-year player out of Texas and it was an opportunity to proved that he was in the league to stay. He certainly proved that.
For Atlanta, another second-year player, Taurean Prince, put together the best showing from the opponent’s side. He notched a team-high 28 points and was head and shoulders above any other Hawk. He’s going to be in the league for a long time. Maybe by the end of his career, he’ll be Taurean King.
As a team, the Hawks shot 44.3 percent from the floor and made just 27.5 percent of their threes. That’s where the Rockets won this contest. From the three point line, the Rockets were a +27.
Also, Zhou Qi and R.J. Hunter played the final 3:30 tonight. That was cool to see some fresh faces. Not that we don’t love the faces we usually see, but it’s always nice to shake things up.
At this point in the season, the Rockets are simply going through the motions and trying to not drop in the standings before the playoffs come. The top seed is all but locked and the goal for these final eight games is to stay healthy. This means we are going to see different lineups and players resting and a new brand of Rockets basketball. To have this coupled with a nine-game win streak which doesn’t even seem to be a spectacular feat, given all that the Rockets have accomplished this season, makes this a really fun time to be a Rockets fan.
Enjoy the ride guys. The team is off Monday but is back in action Tuesday as the Bulls come to town. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. CT.