It was a back and forth affair between Houston and Phoenix in a game with 10 ties and eight lead changes.
The Suns began the game with the momentum, charging out to a 20-9 lead early thanks to a strong scoring effort from Devin Booker, who would end up with a game-high 35.
The Rockets would claw back into the game in the second quarter, led by Russell Westbrook and Ben McLemore. The Rockets would win the second quarter 37-21 and went into halftime with an eight point lead.
The Suns were able to chip away at their deficit and managed to square it back up at 85 with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Then the Beard took flight.
James Harden entered the fourth quarter with 9:48 left in the game and just 16 points. The Beard had been contained nicely by the Suns’ defensive approach and missed his first nine three-point attempts.
Harden scored 18 of the Rockets’ final 30 points in the contest to push them ahead and seal the deal for the Rockets.
Despite his incredible fourth quarter performance, Harden’s game overall was inefficient. He did play well on the defensive end with three steals and a block but his offensive game was something left to be desired. He shot 8-27 from the floor and made just three of his 17 shots from beyond the arc.
Luckily for The Beard, his Brodie Russell Westbrook was able to bail him out.
Westbrook put on possibly his most impressive display as a Rocket with 24 points on 10-18 shooting to go with 14 rebounds and 11 assists for his third straight triple-double.
Ben McLemore also continued his hot streak, shooting 10-15 off the bench with 27 points.
Without Westbrook and McLemore, this game does not end up in the win column for the Rockets.
McLemore is playing the best basketball of his career and what he has been able to do over the past few games has been extraordinary. In his last four games, McLemore is averaging 22.5 points per game shooting over 57 percent from the field.
Tonight proved that Harden will have stretches where he is just cold. Before the fourth quarter tonight, he had not looked too good volume-wise in Toronto or tonight and he might go through some slumps.
However, the Rockets have the supporting cast that can properly pick up Harden’s slack and that could lead this Rockets team a very long way.
The Rockets look to extend their winning streak to three Monday night as they face the Kings. Tipoff is at 7 PM CT.