Houston Rockets 120, Philadelphia 76ers 98: Rockets take care of business

The Rockets did what they were supposed to do, and handed the 76ers their 26th straight loss (tying an NBA record), though halfway through the second quarter the Sixers and Rockets were tied at 43.  The Rockets looked like they were sleepwalking, calling it in.  Then they woke up and outscored the Sixers by 22 to finish out the game.  And, that’s 11 wins in a row at home for Houston.

James Harden had a triple double (his second of his career) in only 31 minutes and was able to rest the whole 4th quarter.  He went for 26 points, 10 boards and 10 assists.  Our MVP is still ascending, he’s handing out lots of assists, hitting deep 3’s, his step back shot is nearly unstoppable and he’s become a lot more confident in his teammates.  Harden’s demeanor and leadership is a solid anchor for this young team and he’s getting better.

Terrence Jones made it look easy tonight, again.  With a soft Sixers middle, Jones had his way.  He was giggling while dribbling behind the back on coast to coast dunks.  His energy, youth and ball handling against a team as woeful as the Sixers makes him look like an All Star. Clyde Drexler was talking about Jones and his potential, but against the Sixers half the team looked like All Stars.

With Beverley going out early with a sprained right knee, Lin and Canaan got a lot of time.  Jeremy was the only guard in the game towards the end with Hamilton, Casspi and Canaan getting extra minutes with Asik and D Mo.

Asik has yet to look like Asik of last year.  He’s looking slower, more nailed to the floor and unbelievably playing with even less emotion than he did last year.  He was a +/- of -13 in a game the Rockets won by 22.  What can McHale do to light a fire under the Turk? Something has got to give.

Canaan needs the time to get used to the pace of the big time.  He made some bad passes and missed some shots around the rim, but this was the perfect setting for him to get minutes.  If Beverley is out he’ll be learning on the job against tougher teams than tonight.

Howard only had to play 26 minutes and was a perfect 6 for 6 from the field.  He showed no signs of trouble from knocking his knee in practice.  The lob/alley-oop pick and roll looked unstoppable.  Everyone is making great passes to the middle, and with the youth of Jones elevating way above the rim and the power of a healthy Howard, there were a lot of easy points available in the paint.

Former Rocket James Anderson is having a career year and went off for 30 points.  Alone, he kept the Sixers in the game early and finished with six 3’s.  The Rockets transition defense looked a little shaky and overall it felt like they weren’t completely invested on the defensive end tonight.  They were sloppy with the ball tonight, committing 20 turnovers. Though of course it doesn’t matter against a team that has lost 26 in a row.

The Rockets big game is coming up Saturday night against the Clippers.  It sure would be nice to get one win against the Clippers this year. At least everyone should be rested and hopefully Beverley will be ok.  The battle between Beverley and Paul is one I am particularly interested in watching.  It’s nice to watch the Rockets pile it on against teams they should beat, as this wasn’t such a sure thing earlier in the season.  Now it’s on to a bellwether test in LA.

 

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