Not great, but solid win
The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets defeat Kings on the road 113-104
This wasn't a great win by any means for the Rockets, but it was definitely solid. Houston's fast-pace and high scoring effort put the Kings in a hole early on and the Rockets played decent enough defense to hold off a Sacramento run.
Was it pretty? No, but it didn't have to be.
As the few several games have been, this was yet another game that confirmed what we've seen from Russell Westbrook the past couple weeks is real - he's still a legitimate NBA All-Star with the ability to rise to higher levels on occasion. This might sound like a silly thing to confirm, but his early season returns combined with his last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder gave Rockets' fans appropriate fear that perhaps the Westbrook of a few years ago simply doesn't exist anymore. Tonight, he showed again how he could still be a pretty nice second option on a potential title contender.
De'Aaron Fox was relentless against Houston, tallying 31 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists on 13 of 31 shooting from the field. Fox was the main driving force that kept Sacramento within striking distance until late in the fourth quarter. Trevor Ariza also fared well against his former team, logging 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal on 4 of 8 shooting from the field and 2 of 5 shooting from three-point range.
You'd like to see Houston sustain a lead so their starters can get rest late in the fourth quarter, but this was a solid win for the team, nonetheless.
Star of the game: This was a run of the mill James Harden game in that he had 35 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block on 10 of 19 shooting from the field, 4 of 11 shooting from three-point range, and 10 of 12 shooting from the free throw line. I guess we have to accept this statline as the new normal for Harden. Perhaps pedestrian by his standards this season. In all seriousness, Harden was very good and there's not much else to say here.
Honorable mention: Russell Westbrook keeps adding to his collection of very good and efficient games leading one to the natural conclusion that the run he's on may not be a fluke. Westbrook logged 28 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal on 10 of 22 shooting from the field, 3 of 4 shooting from three-point range, and 5 of 6 shooting from the free throw line. Ever since he's healed up from the summer knee surgery he received and his finger injuries, Westbrook has performed as the true number two option to Harden that they hoped they'd get once they made the trade.
Key moment: The third quarter is really where the Rockets made their money, outscoring the Kings 32-22 and shooting 13 of 21 from the field (61.9) and 4 of 6 from three-point range (66.7%). Westbrook and Harden led the charge, combining for 18 points on 8 of 13 shooting from the field. This gave Houston a 97-79 lead, enough to hold on and win it in the end despite the Kings surging back in the 4th quarter.
Up next: The Rockets travel to San Francisco at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday to play the Golden State Warriors.