A glimpse at the final score may indicate that the Houston Rockets are ready to wreak havoc on the league ahead of the season restart, but their final scrimmage may tell a different story. On Tuesday, the Boston Celtics deactivated seven of their top players, which resulted in a 137-112 victory for the Rockets inside The Arena in Orlando, Fla.
As expected, James Harden — the league’s leading scorer (34.4 PPG) — posted a game-high 35 points, shooting a sizzling 62.5% from the field, 61.5% from deep, to go along with 6 assists and 8 rebounds in the win. Carsen Edwards led the way for the Celtics with 19 points, while Grant Williams scored 15 off the bench.
While there was little to no competition on the floor, Mike D’Antoni said there were still some positives to take away from the final game of their scrimmage.
“Well for one thing, [Robert] Covington got back into his rhythm. It was good for Austin Rivers to get back on the floor. I thought Russell [Westbrook] looked much more fluent tonight. And James [Harden] seems like he is dialed in and ready for the restart. So there are still some good things we can take away from this game.” — D’Antoni
How It Happened: After a slow start to the game, the Celtics jumped out to an early 10-0 lead over the Rockets. Houston missed their first three shot attempts and turned the ball over three times following the opening tip.
Midway through the first quarter, Houston fell into their offensive rhythm. Jeff Green connected on two foul shots to give the Rockets a lead they would never relinquish. They finished the game shooting 40.4% from behind the arc, as the Rockets once held a 25-point led over the Celtics during the third quarter.
Despite an easy win, the game did end with an immense concern for one of the Rockets’ key players. Just before the halftime break, Eric Gordon sustained a visible left ankle injury after he stepped on the foot of Vincent Poirier. Unable to walk on his own will, the Rockets expect they will be without their sharpshooting two-guard for the first few days of the season restart.
This could be a touch optimistic: Early estimates on Gordon's return to the Houston lineup center on 1-to-2 weeks, sources tell ESPN. More will be known after Wednesday's evaluation of his left ankle. https://t.co/O1BGocfN0c— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 29, 2020
Who Stood Out: James Harden appears to be a man on a mission in Orlando. After a nearly triple-double performance last timeout, he scored 30 of his 35 points in the first half. Robert Covington added in 16 points while connecting on four out of his seven attempts from behind the arc. Russell Westbrook played close to 30 minutes in the win (26 minutes) recording 19 points, eight assists and six rebounds on the night.
“I play the games like they all count. I’m not a guy who can just hop up and be like ‘This is a real one. Let me play different.’” — Russell Westbrook
Up Next: The Rockets will resume their 2020 season on Friday, against their Southwest division rivals, the Dallas Mavericks. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. CT.