The Houston Rockets made it a little too close for comfort tonight against the Phoenix Suns, keeping up with a year-long tradition of playing down to the level of their competition, but they got a big night from James Harden and some clutch play down the stretch from Danuel House to close out a 108-102 win.
The Beard finished with 41 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds, 6 steals, and 3 blocks in a box line that actually makes me wish I didn’t get a first-round bye in my fantasy league. He carried the full offensive load with Chris Paul sitting out for a night of rest, and he was great getting to the bucket and setting up his teammates.
But the big story was the clutch play of Danuel House, who was just signed back to the team this week and was starting in place of CP3. He tied a career high with 18 points, and he hit a massive triple with 55 seconds left and then had a clean block on Josh Jackson after Jackson stipped Harden and had a fast break. The play was erroneously whistled as a foul, but in true ball-don’t-lie fashion, Jackson missed both free throws, and it was a game-saving play by House.
House likely earned himself more minutes in a suddenly crowded Houston rotation, so it will be interesting to see how head coach Mike D’Antoni handles things with Paul back in the lineup.
The Rockets almost blew an easy one, however, as they were down on the scoreboard after all of the first three quarters before Harden and House’s heroics sparked the fourth-quarter comeback.
In addition to their two standouts, the Rockets also got 19 points from Eric Gordon and 14 points, 11 rebounds and a block from Clint Capela. Kenneth Faried had 9 points and 6 boards in just 15 minutes of action, and P.J. Tucker pitched in 5 steals despite scoring no points on 0-3 shooting.
The Suns were led by Devin Booker, who finished with 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists, while Deandre Ayton put up 17 points and 14 rebounds. They also got 22 points and 5 steals from Kelly Oubre, 13 points from Josh Jackson, and 12 points and 11 boards from Richaun Holmes in a spirited effort that fell just a bit short for the Suns.
The Rockets now move to 43-26 on the season and will stay in third place in the Western Conference standings. They’re off tomorrow night but will return to action on Sunday with a nationally televised game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.