The Houston Rockets held a 44-36 led when James Harden subbed in for Eric Gordon with 8:46 remaining in the second quarter. With 12 points already in the books, Harden proceed to score 19 points in the final six minutes of the half, en route to a 123-112 victory over the New York Knicks, Monday night, inside the Toyota Center in Houston.
After scoring 31 points in the first half, Harden ended the night with a game-high 37 points shooting 56% from the field, 37% from behind the arc, to go along with nine assists and six rebounds in 34 minutes.
With Russell Westbrook sidelined with a left thumb injury, five additional players scored in double-figures to pick up the slack for their wounded point guard. While shooting a season-best 46.4% from deep over the past 21 games, Ben McLemore’s hot streak continued with 17 points connecting on 44% of his shots from the outside.
“I thought a lot of guys played well tonight like Ben (McLemore), Jeff Green came in and did a good job. We have a lot of guys that can contribute and it’s kind of a workmanship. You know — it wasn’t anything to write home about, but we went out and got the win, and we’ll move on to the next one.” — Mike D’Antoni
For the eighth time over the past 18 games, the Rockets’ bench outscored their opponents after achieving the feat only three times throughout the first 39 games of the season. Houston’s second unit recorded 47 points, as Austin Rivers registered 14 in the final 24 minutes following a scoreless first half.
“It makes us a very dangerous team. If your starting five is capable of putting up points and your bench is capable of putting up points, the team can stay consistent throughout the game. I’m really happy to see that because last year and the year before that — our bench points were nowhere near this. That is what happens when you add depth and great veteran leadership to this team.” — Danuel House JR
RJ Barrett led the Knicks with 21 points (8-17 FG), as the rookie from Duke recorded 14 of his final point total during the first quarter. In addition to the scoring from Barrett, Julius Randle notched a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds in the loss.
“As strange as it sounds, we gave up too many easy baskets. There were four or five coverage plays in the first half, there were a couple of plays where we got beat off the dribble, and you cannot give those away. You have to make them earn everything, and I think we gave up too many easy ones early.” — Knicks head coach, Mike Miller
Following an easy win, the Rockets will hit the floor on Wednesday for a South West division matchup against the young and talented Memphis Grizzlies. Tip-off is slated for 7 P.M. CT.