The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets defeat 76ers in Houston 118-108
This game was the definition of back and forth in terms of the amount of momentum changes that occurred, particularly in the third quarter. Russell Westbrook had a signature "This is the Russell Westbrook experience" game tonight, scoring 20 points on 9 of 22 shooting from the field and turning the ball over 4 times.
Early in the first quarter, Philadelphia's length and physicality seemed to bother Houston, as evidenced by their 20 points scored on 30.8 percent shooting from the field. However, the Rockets, particularly James Harden, seemed to figure things out in the second quarter as they rallied back from score 40 points on 68.4 percent shooting and 42.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Harden scored 14 points on 4 of 5 shooting from the field and 2 of 3 shooting from three-point range in the second quarter and the Rockets outscored Philadelphia 29-16.
The Sixers made several efforts to come back and Westbrook's third quarter performance nearly gave it to them, (4 points, 2 of 7 shooting from the field, and 3 turnovers), but Houston managed to stay in it until the end. Tonight gave another glimpse to how good the Rockets can be on both ends when fully healthy. Houston posted an offensive rating of 114.9 (good for second in the league) and a defensive rating of 105.2 (would be good for 12th in the league) against a pretty good Philadelphia team. It'll be interesting to see if their momentum from the Nuggets game and tonight carries over to the rest of the season.
Star of the game: What James Harden did tonight was truly a work of art. The 76ers, a team with plenty of length and defensive versatility, had no idea what to do with him. If they trapped, Harden broke the traps with crisp passes. If they single coveraged, Harden drained a step-back three or drove by his defender (either Ben Simmons or Josh Richardson for most of the night). Harden had 44 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block on a ludicrous 75.1 true shooting percentage.
Honorable mention: Clint Capela had his best game in a long time tonight against a tough match-up in Joel Embiid. Capela, still in pain from the right heel injury, used his speed to outrun Embiid down the court several times tonight and was available for dump-off passes when Embiid would step up to defend Harden. Capela finished with 30 points 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block on 76.8 percent true shooting.
Key moment: To start the second quarter, the Rockets opened with a 29-16 run to give them an 8 point lead with 4:24 remaining in the half. Harden led the Rockets this quarter with 14 points on 4 of 5 shooting from the field and 2 of 3 shooting from three-point range.
Up next: The Rockets travel to Atlanta to play the Hawks at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday.