Missed shots are prohibited
The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets roll past Suns 139-125
It's possible the Rockets go the entire season before ever figuring it out defensively, but offensively, they've clearly reached their apex. The Rockets posted an ungodly offensive rating of 137.2 tonight and more importantly, were carried by their two stars.
James Harden and Russell Westbrook combined for 77 points, 17 assists, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals on 26 of 48 shooting from the field, 10 of 21 shooting from three-point range, and 15 of 18 shooting from the free throw line. This game adds to what is starting to become a very significant sample size of games where Westbrook is starting to figure it out in this offense next to Harden.
There had been suspicions that Westbrook's hand was inhibiting his shooting performances, so this may be a little reassuring to Rockets fans who perhaps feared that his jumpshot was completely broken.
"I'm a positive guy," said Westbrook after the game. "When I got here, I told guys, 'There's going to be adversity. When adversity hits, what are you going to do?' I've been through so many different things in my career. My whole mindset has been positive."
The sustainability of Westbrook knocking down these tough mid-range jumpers may be something to watch moving forward, but overall, he's looked like a totally different player as of late, including tonight.
Star of the game: In all likelihood, James Harden will not be playing professional basketball in 10 years. I say that to say, it's important to appreciate what he's doing for now because it's so easy to take 47-point games for granted when Harden gets them so frequently. However, this bears repeating, this not normal and Harden's otherworldly talents deserve to be admired now before they're gone.
Harden posted a line of 47 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 1 block on 15 of 27 shooting from the field, 9 of 19 three-point shooting, and 8 of 9 shooting from the free throw line. That would make for an absurd true shooting percentage of 75.9%. Even though the Suns aren't worldbeaters defensively, this was a ridiculous performance.
Honorable mention: Russell Westbrook is averaging 27.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 7.9 assists, and 1.9 steals on 52.1% true shooting in the month of December. It appears he has started to finally figure out the dynamic of playing alongside Harden, specifically leading second units. Westbrook finished the night with 30 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block on 11 of 21 shooting from the field, 1 of 2 shooting from three-point range, and 7 of 9 shooting from the free throw line.
Key moment: This game was actually consistently within a 10-point margin for the majority of the game. That changed, however, at the 9:37 mark of the 4th quarter where the Rockets increased their 115-107 lead to 136-116 at the 3:58 mark. James Harden scored or assisted on 16 of these 21 points, including making 4 of his 5 three-pointers attempted.
Up next: The Rockets travel to Sacramento at 9:00 p.m. on Monday to take on the Kings.