Houston, we have a problem.
It isn’t the fact that Clint Capela is out for the forseeable future. It’s the fact that James Harden might be too good.
To put things in perspective, Harden scored 57 points while the rest of the team scored 55 altogether.
However, Harden’s performance is not all that meets the eye. It’s easy to look at this game and the box score and think Harden carried the Rockets to victory. However, carrying is simply not the right word. The rest of the Rockets did their part with Capela now absent in the lineup.
In the first half, however, that was not the case. The Rockets were ice cold and relying on Harden to keep the team in the game. The Grizzlies made their shots and the Rockets struggled to get into a rhythm.
However, the Rockets buckled down on the defensive side of the ball in the second quarter, limiting the Grizz to just 19 second-quarter points. This allowed the Rockets to take a six point lead heading into the break. Harden had 36 of the team’s 54 points at halftime.
It was the third quarter when the supporting cast began stepping up on offense. Gary Clark scored eight points off the bench, Gerald Green knocked down four threes, and Danuel House Jr. dropped a non-Harden high 15. The Rockets broke the game open and the lead was 17 by the time the fourth quarter arrived.
The news to begin the day was scary and bleak but it looks like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Houston is extremely fortunate to have the MVP and a cast of characters that love to grind and play with something to prove. The trio of Clark, House Jr., and Green are going to be vital to the Rockets’ success during this period of the season and Harden cannot be expected to carry the squad every night for six weeks.
It’s going to be a team effort, but as this stretch has proven, the Rockets have some underrated role players.
Now is their time to shine and their test has arrived. The team passed tonight, but whether they will be able to pass on other nights remains a mystery.
Will the team pass the test on Wednesday when the Brooklyn Nets come to town? Tipoff is at 7 p.m. CT.