The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Houston takes care of business against Miami 117-108

After losing three games in a row, the Rockets captured a quality win tonight against a fiesty Miami Heat squad. The Heat were without Jimmy Butler and there tends to be a "let your guard down affect" when playing against a team without it's star. Fortunately for Houston, they seemed to be ready from the opening tip.

The Rockets looked in a daze for the first minute or so of the game, turning the ball over twice. However, they quickly found a rhythm, going on a 10-0 run which later turned into a 17-1 run. With Clint Capela out with an illness, there was an opening for young players Isaiah Hartenstein and Gary Clark to enter the rotation. Hartenstein didn't do much in the 10 minutes he played (2 rebounds, 2 fouls, -1), but Clark had his best game of the season in the 29 minutes he saw the floor (12 points, 8 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block on 5 of 10 shooting from the field, +7).

Mike D"Antoni didn't make any guarantees, but left open the possibility of Clark making the rotation this season.

"Gary's good," said D'Antoni. "We're trying to find somebody to give us something consistent. It's up to him to do this. You know everybody in the NBA can do it one or two nights. Can you do it for six months in a row? We got to have that."


Danuel House also had a career high 23 points on 7 of 11 shooting from the field and 4 of 8 shooting from three-point range. "There are always good looks on this team," said House. "When those two guys (Russell Westbrook and James Harden) get going downhill, they put a lot of pressure on a lot of people. I'm open, open. So, thank you Russ and James."

Star of the game: James Harden started the game tonight with the clear intention of taking care of business against a Miami Heat team without Jimmy Butler. Harden had 24 points by halftime, giving the Rockets a 66-42 lead that the Heat were never able to recover from. Harden ended the game with 34 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block on 64.4% true shooting.

Honorable mention: Russell Westbrook had possibly his most efficient game of the season. Westbrook had 27 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals on 11 of 21 shooting from the field. Westbrook did most of his damage from the midrange where he made 8 of 14 shots. Westbrook also made 5 of 6 of his free throws after making 9 of 10 in the previous game.

Key moment: After starting the game off down 3 with two turnovers, the Rockets went on a 10-0 run in the opening minutes of the first quarter that was progressively built on as the night went on.

Up next: The Rockets finish their home stand off against the Atlanta Hawks at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Coming off a brutal and embarrassing double-overtime loss in San Antonio two nights before, the Rockets were in need of a statement victory. The 15-5 Raptors provided just that opportunity Thursday night in Toronto and head coach Nick Nurse made his team's defensive intentions clear before the game.

To his credit, he wasn't bluffing. Nurse stuck to his word and the Raptors began doubling James Harden at mid-court. Harden would see this insane defense the entire game and as a result, stayed deferential and only scored 6 points at halftime. The Rockets would go on and a ton of open looks from beyond the three-point line as a result.

Danuel House played well in his return game (16 points on 5 of 11 shooting from the field and 3 of 8 shooting from three-point range), but was still really sick and head coach Mike D'Antoni elected to bring him off the bench as a result

The Rockets were pretty sloppy with the basketball (22 turnovers), but they rebounded the basketball well (out-rebounded Toronto 54-45), moved the ball, and got open looks and that will end up being the story for this game (22 of 55 from three-point range).

Star of the game: With the constant double teams thrown at James Harden in this game, there was room for everybody on the roster to get there's, specifically Ben McLemore. McLemore had his best game of the season for the Rockets, scoring 28 points on 8 of 17 three-point shooting. It's getting tougher and tougher to ignore the wide-gap between McLemore's performances as a starter versus as a bench player and he even addressed it after the game.

"Just being out there with the veteran guys like Russ and James and being comfortable and them guys building my confidence at a high level," said McLemore. "Russ does a good job and Harden does a good job as well of letting me play my game."

Honorable mention: Despite the focused coverage against him, James Harden was surprisingly efficient tallying 23 points, 7 rebounds, 6 steals, and 3 assists on 11 shots. Harden let the offense flow through his teammates and it paid off as the 29 of the Rockets 40 field goals were assisted. Effectively, Harden was acting as a vacuum to suck in defenses and get teammates like Ben McLemore, P.J. Tucker, and Danuel House open looks all game (combined for 16-35 from three-point range).

Key moment: The Raptors briefly caught up and took a 86-83 lead over the Rockets in the 3rd quarter, but through ball movement and hot shooting, Houston was able to quash the run. Houston would go on a 11-2 run to close the quarter. Ben McLemore scored or assisted on 8 of these 11 points.

Up next: The Rockets return to Toyota Center on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. to take on the Phoenix Suns.

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