The Houston Rockets are no strangers to a cold-shooting night. They happen from time to time with a team that takes so many three-point shots. This was one of those games. Houston shot just 37 percent from the field and an ugly 16-57 from deep, and despite some tight defense down the stretch that almost pulled the game out, they fell to the Indiana Pacers 108-104.
Russell Westbrook missed today’s game with a thigh strain that could keep him out into the postseason, so that left the heavy lifting up to James Harden, and he responded with 45 points, a career-high 17 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 steals on 13-21 shooting from the field and 7-14 from beyond the arc.
But Harden had no help offensively, as his teammates shot just 9-43 from beyond the arc, and the next highest scorer was Jeff Green off the bench with 14.
This was mostly a close game throughout, which is a small positive for a team shooting so poorly, and Houston’s newfound ability to crank up the D when it matters most is going to be key come postseason time, but finding a consistent second scorer if Russ is going to miss significant time just may be an issue.
Eric Gordon did return tonight, and he looked surprisingly quick and athletic, perhaps more so that he has all season, but he’s still working himself back into shape, playing just 20 minutes and shooting 1-9 from deep, obviously still not finding his range. He did score 13 points, primarily off of drives inside, but Houston needs EG to get his shooting legs, and pronto.
The Rockets also lost P.J. Tucker, who injured his hand in the third quarter and did not return, but it’s his non-shooting hand and didn’t appear overly serious, so hopefully the Rockets dodged a bullet there.
The only other notable performer for the Rockets today was Robert Covington, who finished with 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks. The bench scored just 25 overall points, and Houston’s gonna need more from them, especially with no Russ.
The Pacers played pretty good defense on the Rockets and also featured a balanced scoring attack that saw 18 points and 12 boards from Myles Turner, 18 points and 6 rebounds from Justin Holiday, 17 points from Edmond Sumner, and 16 from Doug McDermott.
The Rockets are now off until Friday, when they’ll play their final bubble game against the Philadelphia 76ers, but the bigger concern right now is being as healthy as possible for next week.