The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets dominate struggling Trail Blazers 132-108
The Rockets came back to the Toyota Center to face a struggling Trail Blazers team and completely dominated buzzer to buzzer. The left no oxygen for Portland to climb back into it and they put they never relented in their attack on both ends of the floor. This was about a complete performance as you're going to find for a team in the NBA. Seemingly every Houston Rocket had a good game and every possession was used wisely.
"They're playing well, obviously," head coach Mike D'Antoni said of his starting lineup. "Russell [Westbrook] obviously had an extra gear tonight. Just everybody [played well]. It's hard to single out one guy when so many guys played well."
It obviously starts with James Harden, but Russell Westbrook had his best game in a long time, logging 28 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, and 2 steals. Westbrook wasn't particularly efficient, but was tenacious, speedier than he's ever looked as a Rocket, and was a positive for the Rockets in the non-Harden minutes for the first time in a while. This may have something to do with getting a game off for rest, but whatever the case, Westbrook showed up tonight and gave a glimpse to how scary this team can be when both he and Harden are clicking on all cylinders.
Clint Capela and Danuel House returned Monday night from their injuries and if they had rust from taking a few games off, it was hard to tell. Capela dominated on the glass (20 rebounds) and was active and communicating defensively (4 blocks). Capela has now had 20 rebounds or more in four straight games. House was also good defensively (3 steals) and picked up right where he left off shooting the three-ball (3 of 6 from three-point range).
"[Clint Capela] had a lot of energy as well," said James Harden. He came in and just ran the floor very well, protected the rim, rebounded the basketball at a high level, things that he's capable of doing."
Star of the game: Putting James Harden in this slot feels redundant, but it's also silly to slot anyone else here. Harden logged a ho-hum 36 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal on 11 of 19 shooting from the field and 5 of 10 shooting from three-point range. He was aggressive early on to put the Trail Blazers away and succeeded in doing so in the 2nd quarter, his best stretch of the game. Rhythm-wise, Harden's just on another planet right now and is leading the Rockets straight to the top of the tough Western Conference.
Honorable mention: On his first game back from concussion protocol, Clint Capela looked like he didn't lose a step. Capela tallied 22 points, 20 rebounds, and 4 blocks on 10 of 17 shooting from the field and 2 of 3 shooting from the free throw line. It only took a couple of minutes for Capela to regain his rhythm and played extremely well on both sides when he did.
Key moment: James Harden broke open the game in the second quarter where he scored 15 points on 4 of 7 shooting from the field and 3 of 5 shooting from three-point range. What's remarkable is Harden scored all of these points from the 7:18 mark of the second quarter until halftime, where the Rockets went on a 20-10 run.
If Harden's figured out how to beat these swarms, I don't even know what you're supposed to do here. https://t.co/We4jOWP3w7— Salman Ali (@Salman Ali) 1574129138.0
Up next: The Rockets travel to Denver at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday to play the Nuggets.