Phoenix Suns’ head coach Monty Williams did not receive the memo on how to defend James Harden prior to the game. Williams’ decision to defend Harden one-on-one resulted in a 47-point performance (15-27 FG, 3-5 3PT) en route to a 139-125 victory for the Houston Rockets, Saturday night, inside the the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.
With enough space to score at will, Harden recorded 29 of his final point total in the first half, following an 18-point (6-7 FG, 3-3 3PT) first quarter to open the contest. Although he had it going throughout the game, the Rockets’ backcourt proved to be too much for the struggling Suns.
Following a season-high against the Clippers on Thursday, Russell Westbrook scored 30 points while shooting 11-for-21 from the field (52%), to go along with a game-high 10 assists in the win.
Behind Harden and Westbrook, the Rockets finished the night with one of their best offensive performances of the season, as Houston shot a sizzling 58.6% from the field, 46.3% from 3-point range.
After leading by 14-points early in the second quarter, Phoenix came within five as the Rockets led 70-65 at the half. In addition to the lack of production coming off the bench, Houston’s defense struggled to stop Phoenix from attacking the basket, as the Suns recorded 40 points in the paint during the first half.
Houston improved on their defensive miscues, as the Suns scored 24 points in the paint during the final 24 minutes. The Rockets also gained better production from their second unit due to the play of Gary Clark.
Clark scored all nine of his points in the second half shooting 3-for-5 (60%) from behind the arc, which included a made 3-point field goal late in the third quarter to gave the Rockets an 11 point advantage. Clint Capela recorded his seventh double-double over the past eight games with 14 points and 17 rebounds.
James Harden (19,716) is now 45th on the NBA's all-time scoring list after passing John Stockton (19,711) in the first quarter of tonight's game. Up next is Antawn Jamison (20,042). #Rockets— Coty Davis (@CotyDavis_24) December 22, 2019
With the win, the Rockets have now won 13 straight over the Suns, which includes an 11 game winning streak in Phoenix.
Despite all five starters scoring in double digits, the Suns have now dropped six straight games. Forward Kelly Oubre Jr. led Phoenix with 26 points, while Devin Booker recorded 19 in the loss.
After a 14-point victory, the Rockets improve to 2-0 on their four-game road trip, as they head to Sacramento to take on the Kings inside the Golden 1 Center on Monday. Tip-off is slated for 9:00 P.M. CT.