Not enough energy
The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets fall to the Suns 127-91
On Friday night, the Rockets were a team on the second half of a road back-to-back without their star point guard and they certainly looked like it. Defensively, the Rockets weren't switching and communicating with the same level of effort they did the night prior in Los Angeles. Offensively, Houston clearly had tired legs as they struggled to make jump shots (11 of 48 from three-point range - 23%) or get out in transition and capitalize on the speed advantage you get when playing small
While the Rockets struggled the make shots (29 of 85 from the field - 34%), the Suns could not miss. Kelly Oubre Jr. absolutely destroyed the Rockets scoring 39 points on a ridiculous 14 of 19 shooting from the field, 7 of 9 shooting from deep, and 4 of 4 shooting from the free throw line. Devin Booker got it going early in the first quarter (18 points, 6 of 8 shooting from the field) and finished with 33 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block on 10 of 18 shooting from the field, 4 of 8 shooting from three-point range, and 9 of 9 shooting from the charity stripe.
This is the kind of game you want to just flush down the drain and move on. Houston has a couple of tough opponents coming up so it's a good thing Mike D'Antoni and James Harden decided to pack it in early in the 3rd quarter. Houston rarely does this, but it became so patently obvious that they weren't going to climb back into this game.
Star of the game: James Harden finished the game with 32 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal on 9 of 19 shooting from the field, 5 of 10 shooting from three-point range, and 9 of 10 shooting from the free throw line. While this loss stings for the Rockets, it's encouraging that Harden was able to get some momentum going before these next stretch of games (Utah on Sunday and Boston on Tuesday).
Honorable mention: Nobody besides Harden played particularly well tonight, but I suppose Ben McLemore played the least bad? McLemore had 13 points on 5 of 10 shooting from the field and 2 of 2 shooting from the free throw line. McLemore couldn't bail Houston out from beyond the arc (1 of 5 shooting), but he was one of only three players who scored in double digits tonight.
Key moment: The only moment where it looked like the Rockets might have a chance was when James Harden had his second quarter scoring run and brought the lead down the single digits. In the second quarter, Harden scored 16 points on 6 of 7 shooting from the field and 4 of 4 shooting from behind the arc. Houston was only trailing 65-55 by the end of the first half. However, once Phoenix decided to trap double-team James Harden, the Rockets weren't able to make open three-pointers and as a result didn't capitalize on the run.
Up next: The Rockets return to Houston to play the Utah Jazz at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.