It's a make or miss league

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Houston lets one go in Brooklyn 123-116

Sometimes, basketball is as simple as who makes their shots as the Rockets learned Friday night in Brooklyn. The Rockets couldn't buy a three-pointer (12 of 48 or 25%) while the Nets seemingly were shooting into the Pacific Ocean (19 of 32 or 59.4%). Houston certainly has a lot to clean up defensively (like in transition where they allowed the Nets to go 7 for 8 on fastbreak opportunities), but the disparity in how they seem to be the coldest team every night squaring off against the hottest team doesn't read as something sustainable. The Rockets are shooting 31% from three-point range (74/239) while their opponents have shot 43.2% from three (86/199) this season.

The Rockets actually started off the game playing really well and seemingly focused defensively, tallying a 15-point lead with 8:21 remaining in the 2nd quarter. That lead quickly evaporated as Houston went 1-8 from three-point range and turned the ball over 5 times to allow the Nets to go on a 14-1 run to end the half. From there, the Rockets never quite recovered.

Houston made a run in the fourth quarter to get the lead down to 6, but after a sequence in which P.J. Tucker tried to draw a charge and wasn't whistled followed by a Jarrett Allen layup and Kyrie Irving three, the lead was back up to 11 for the Nets and the Rockets never made another strong charge.

Star of the game: A better phrasing for this category tonight may be "Who played the least bad?" for which the honor goes to Danuel House, who tallied 15 points tonight on 6 of 10 shooting from the field and 3 of 6 shooting from three-point range. House has become a wildly reliable shooter and contributor for the Rockets this season and has placed any doubts about his starting role to bed. His energy, floor spacing, ball-handling, and rebounding have been major assets to Houston this season.

Honorable mention: If James Harden had shot just a little bit better than 2 for 16 from three-point range tonight, the Rockets win this game and there's no way he's not the star of the game. While it seemed like Harden's shooting struggles had gone away after last game, they came back to haunt him tonight in a major way. It's highly unlikely Harden finishes the season shooting under 20% from three-point range, but the Rockets need him to turn it around quickly.

Key moment: Houston allowed Brooklyn to go on a 14-1 run to end the first half, resulting in the loss of their double-digit lead.

Up next: The Rockets travel to Miami on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. to take on the Heat.

It wasn't pretty, but it wasn't ugly either. That just seems par for the course whenever the Rockets play the Pelicans. Regardless of injuries on either side, these two teams just always manage to play each other competitively, whistle to whistle. Houston pulled out ahead tonight, but it wasn't without a fight.

Jrue Holiday and Josh Hart in particular, did an excellent job defending James Harden tonight, forcing him to shoot 3 for 11 from deep. The Pelicans often swarmed Harden and forced him to give up the basketball. It helps the Eric Gordon is starting to find a rhythm from three-point range (4 of 7 tonight and 3 of 7 Saturday against Chicago). Westbrook was also forceful offensively to help pick up for Harden's early struggles.

Clint Capela has really stepped it up for Houston these past four games (11 points, 20 rebounds, and 2 blocks tonight on 5 of 6 shooting). Capela has managed to grab 13 or more rebounds in Houston's last four outings. Capela had struggled greatly to start the season, forcing head coach Mike D'Antoni to rely on smaller units with P.J. Tucker at center. However, the Rockets aren't going to go as far as they want in the postseason if they aren't getting a strong 30 minutes a game from Clint Capela, so it's encouraging that he's starting to play well.

The Rockets took a 7-point lead after a surge from Westbrook to end the first quarter and for the most part, held that lead for the duration of the game. New Orleans made a strong push in the fourth quarter the battle back, but at that point it was too little too late.

Star of the game: James Harden didn't have a the best three-point shooting game, but still managed to log 39 point, 9 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block in the process on 62.6% true shooting. He was effect at driving to the rim, drawing fouls, getting floaters, and finding shooters. Harden scored 19 of his points in the 4th quarter, effectively dragging Houston to victory despite a strong late push by New Orleans that cut the lead from 17 at one point down to as low as 6.

Honorable mention: Russell Westbrook was dialed in from the first quarter, particularly from mid-range where he scored 12 of his points on 6 of 8 shooting. In a night where Harden was really struggling to gain a rhythm, Westbrook really helped pick up the slack for Houston especially in the units without Harden. Westbrook finished the game with 26 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals on an efficient 57.1% true shooting. It's unlikely Westbrook will shoot that well from mid-range this season, but on nights where he's on like this, the Rockets will gladly take it.

Key moment: Russell Westbrook's stretch to end the first quarter gave the Rockets a 7-point lead and the Pelicans were never able to capture the lead from that point forward. Westbrook scored or assisted on the final 6 points of the quarter (within 56.8 seconds) and was forceful defensively.

Up next: The Rockets return to Houston to play the Los Angeles Clippers at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

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