It wasn’t as bad of a night as some of us feared, as the Houston Rockets hung tough for certain stretches with the Brooklyn Nets, but James Harden and company were simply just too much offensively in The Bearded One’s return to H-town, and the Nets sent Houston to their 13th loss in a row with a 132-114 final.
Harden went off to the tune of 29 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists, and 3 steals on an uber-efficient 10-15 from the field and 4-8 from three, and he scored or assisted on 59 total Brooklyn points, and the Rockets simply had no one to match that combination of firepower and efficiency.
Despite being down double digits for large chunks of the game past mid second quarter, Houston never did give up, squashing the lead to 10 points off of a Victor Oladipo three-pointer with 2:24 left in the third and getting it down to 9 points off another Oladipo bucket with 7:41 left in the fourth, but each time Houston tried to make a run, Harden and the Nets would step on the gas again, and the lead would balloon.
Houston had big nights from Oladipo and John Wall, who both put up season highs in scoring, with Wall finishing with 36 points, 2 rebounds, and 5 assists, and Oladipo totaling 33 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. But neither of them were very efficient, with Wall shooting 12-30 on the night and Dipo going 9-25 from the field, and Houston got very little other scoring punch from it’s ancillary players.
Christian Wood remained out, as did Eric Gordon, Danuel House, and David Nwaba, and that left all the secondary scoring to Jae’Sean Tate, who finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 steals, and Ben McLemore and Justin Patton, who finished with 10 points apiece.
The Rockets shot just 41 percent tonight as a team and pulled down just 37 rebounds, while the Nets cruised to 57 percent shooting and 53 boards, illustrating two major continuing problem areas for the Rockets. Mostly, however, they just don’t have enough talent on the floor right now.
The Nets had all five of their starters finish with double-digit scoring. In addition to Harden, they got 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists from flat-earth fanatic Kyrie Irving, 19 points from Joe Harris, 17 points from Bruce Brown, and 10 points and 10 boards from DeAndre Jordan. They also got 16 off the bench from Nicolas Claxton and 11 from Landry Shamet.
The Rockets now fall to 11-23 on the season, and they’ll be off until after the All-Star break, next playing on March 11 against the Sacramento Kings. Hopefully, they’ll get healthier by then and we’ll see more than eight players on the court.