The Houston Rockets were on the second night of a back-to-back set tonight, and every bit of it showed, as they had tired shooting legs and slow defending feet. They shot just 40 percent from the field and 28 percent from beyond the arc, and they were absolutely decimated in the open court by the faster, fresher Detroit Pistons and suffered a 115-107 defeat.
James Harden led the way for the Rockets with 39 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists on 14-33 shooting, and he had some trouble getting to the line for the third straight game, shooting just 8 free throws on the night. He’s averaged just 6.3 per game over his last three contests.
The Rockets really missed Russell Westbrook tonight, as he sat out for load management, and the Rockets just weren’t playing at the same speed as the Pistons. Detroit outscored Houston on the fast break 26-6, as the Rockets really could’ve used Westbrook’s ability to push the pace.
I’m curious if it makes sense, that if you’re going to sit Russ on back-to-backs, you have him sit the opening game and play in the second. A fresh Westbrook’s legs just might’ve made the difference tonight.
Houston also didn’t have it defensively either, as they let seven different Pistons score in double figures, as they continue with the disconcerting theme of making a bad team look good on the nights when the Rockets aren’t at their best.
Detroit was led by Luke Kennard, who finished with 22 points and 7 boards on 4-7 from deep, and they also got 20 points and 12 assists from Derrick Rose, 16 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals from Bruce Brown, 15 points apiece from Tony Snell and and Markieff Morris, 11 points and 13 boards from Christian Wood, and 10 points from Langston Galloway.
In addition to Harden, the Rockets also got 17 off the bench from Chris Clemons, who had one of his best games as a Rocket and even made some defensive plays, also finishing with 2 steals and a block. Clint Capela had a big night, finishing with 12 points, 19 rebounds, and 3 blocks, while they also got 14 from Austin Rivers and 13 from Ben McLemore.
But that’s it. With no Westbrook and only an “average” night from The Beard, there just wasn’t quite enough from the rest of the roster to get it done. P.J. Tucker, Danuel House, and Gary Clark were a combined 5-22 from the field and didn’t make enough of an impact in other areas to make a difference.