The Houston Rockets were a well-oiled machine tonight, as they dominated the Memphis Grizzlies from the opening tip to the final buzzer. Both James Harden and Russell Westbrook were sublime, and both needed essentially just three quarters to put up monster stat lines.
Russ led the way with 33 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, and 4 steals, and the total scope of his ridiculous athleticism was on full display, as he essentially got to the bucket at will in shooting 15-24 from the field (1-2 from three).
The Beard also put up a 30-piece, finishing with 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. He shot 9-16 from the field, including 7-12 from deep, and the stark contrast between he and Russ’s style is making beautiful music together. The Rockets can attack you from anywhere.
But that wasn’t all. Houston’s defense also came out swarming, jumping passing lanes, blocking shots, and generally wreaking the kind of havoc on defense you used to only expect from teams with a dominant big in the middle.
It was this tough D that sparked Houston’s 34-17 opening quarter that they never looked back from, and despite some concentration hiccups in the second half when the game was all but decided, the Rockets were just as good on D as they were on offense, holding the Grizz to just 39 percent shooting from the field for the game. Houston also forced 14 turnovers.
The defensive effort was led by Robert Convington, who blocked another 3 shots to go along with 10 points and 6 rebounds. DeMarre Carroll also got into the act, swatting 2 in his first real extended action of the year with the Rockets. He looked like he could be of real help defensively, and he also finished with 3 points, 4 rebounds, and a steal in 18 minutes.
But perhaps the biggest contributor after Houston’s two superstars was Austin Rivers. He was unconscious shooting for most of the game, finishing with 23 points on 9-12 from the field, and he hit 4-7 from beyond the arc to go along with numerous nifty moves to the cup.
Jeff Green also looked good, as he finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, and he was also extremely active on defense. He may have finally found his niche, and with his 10-day contract ending soon, I’m sure the Rockets will sign him to finish out the year.
Houston finished the night shooting 55 percent from the field to go along with a scorching 23-50 from deep, and the blowout allowed Harden and Russ to both get some rest, as they both got to sit for the end of the game once the rout was on.
Memphis was led by Dillon Brooks, who finished with 22 points and hit several tough shots, and they also got 16 points and 10 boards from Jonas Valanciunas, and 12 points and 9 assists from rookie Ja Morant.
The Rockets have now won five games in a row and stand at 38-20 on the season, and are jockeying with the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets for second through fourth place. They now have two days off before returning to action with a tough road game on Saturday night against the Boston Celtics on national television (ABC).