WEEK IN REVIEW

Rockets recap: Perfect start includes big win over Warriors

James Harden is off to a fast start. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

You would think that upsetting the reigning NBA champions on their home court en route to an undefeated first week of the season would be a little more attention grabbing here in Houston. 

You would, of course, be wrong. If you’re like the majority of the city, then the Houston Astros have probably kept you spellbound for at least the past week, leaving little room for the Rockets at the moment. If that’s the case, don’t worry. Keep watching the Astros, and I’ll keep you updated on the Rockets. We’ll get through this together.

Game one: Rockets at Golden State Warriors (W, 122-121)

The Rockets opened up the regular season by defeating the Golden State Warriors on opening night, and the big question was how Chris Paul and James Harden would work on the floor together. The short answer is not great at the moment. Paul left the game late in the fourth with a knee injury that looks to keep him sidelined for at least a few weeks, so we’ll have to wait a little longer to answer that question. New free agent acquisitions Luc Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker shined off the bench, combining for 34 points and 10 rebounds. Harden finished with 27 points, 6 rebounds, and 10 assists.

Game two: Rockets at Sacramento Kings (W, 105-100)

Part two of the Rockets’ West Coast mini tour sent them to basketball’s elephant graveyard: Sacramento. The Kings’ decided to protect the three3point line and were summarily gutted by Harden and center Clint Capela. Capela finished the game 10-12 from the field with 22 points, 17 rebounds, and 3 steals Harden struggled from the three point range (4 of 14), but ended the night with 27 points, 3 rebounds and 9 assists. As a side note, the Kings’ look like they struck gold with De’Aaron Fox. That is a fast human being with what looked like a Kobe-esque mean streak. He’s not Kobe, I’m not saying that, but the kid plays with intensity.

Game three: Rockets vs Dallas Mavericks (W, 107-91)

Saturday night the Rockets extended their unbeaten start to the season with a convincing home opener win over the Mavericks. In a surprisingly dominant defensive showcase, the Rockets held the Mavs to 20 points or less in each of the first three quarters. Trevor Ariza led the effort with four steals which contributed to a 34 point lead by the start of the fourth quarter. Harden finished his early night with 29 points, 3 rebounds and 7 assists. Dirk Nowitzki was held to just 2 points.

Takeaways:

●Three games into the season and nothing suggests that James Harden has any increased interested in playing defense.

●The Rockets’ sharp shooters haven’t started out very sharp. Ryan Anderson is firing the three at a 31.6% clip, which is outpacing Eric Gordon and his 20% success rate.

●Despite the sluggish start from three, Gordon is picking up right where he left off in terms of the production that led to his 6thman of the year award last season, averaging 22 points per game so far.

Rockets Player of the week (not named James Harden): Clint Capela. After a monster game against Sacramento, Capela has started the season averaging 15.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. He’s the prototype center for a team that runs as much as the Rockets do.

Looking Ahead

The Rockets will get two looks at the Memphis Grizzlies along with bouts against the winless 76ers and the 1-1 Hornets. If the Rockets can neutralize Marc Gasol, it’s very possible that the team could be celebrating Halloween unbeaten.

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Composite image by Jack Brame.

Here are some of the moves the Astros will have to consider as they approach the offseason and look to regroup after a tough season. With so many contracts expiring after 2020, the roster could look very different moving forward.

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