Rockets win 118-110

Three pointers from Rockets versus Suns

Tim Warren/Getty Images

Houston travelled to Phoenix Monday night for their first matchup if the season against the Suns. Sloppy ball handling and poor interior defense turned the contest into a track meet as both teams sprinted up and down the court. It was Houston, however, that would come out on top as they were propelled once again by a prolific performance from James Harden.

Points in the paint continues to be a problem

With all the talk about Houston searching for another wing to trade for in the beginning of the season, the target has seemingly shifted toward more rim protection. Clint Capella's absence from the paint has exposed Houston as woefully undersized and practically incapable of defending interior penetration. The Suns focused on that weakness as forwards Josh Jackson, and Kelly Oubre Jr. slashed their way to 25 and 23 points respectively. DeAndre Ayton continued his impressive rookie campaign as well, adding 15 points of his own inside. Once again the Rockets were outscored 62-50 inside the paint.

The Chris Paul conundrum

While still clearly the best option the Rockets have at point guard, Paul is definitely not the version of himself that helped guide Houston to a franchise-best 65 win season just last year. At least not at the moment. Coming off an extended absence due to injury, Paul has seemed slightly off while trying to find a rhythm in an offense that has been dominated by James Harden. Paul capitalized on the lack of experience from the young Suns team with 5 steals, but his 6 turnovers were hard to ignore. Hopefully it's simply a matter of acclimating to the styles of new teammates and not a sign of something worse.

Harden continues to soar

With 44 more points, Harden extended his streak of consecutive 30-point games to 27, inching closer to the second longest streak of 31 set by Wilt Chamberlain. It was also his 20th 40-point game, a feat matched only by Wilt, Michael Jordan, and Rick Barry within the first 50 games of a season. He also added 8 rebounds and 6 assists and 3 steals in the effort.

Rockets player of the game

James Harden: 44 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals

Suns player of the games

Josh Jackson: 25 points, 5 rebounds

Next up:

Houston travels to Sacramento to take on the Kings at 9 central on Wednesday.

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Carlos Beltran missed out on his first opportunity to be inducted in the Hall of Fame this week, and we discuss how his involvement in the 2017 sign-stealing scandal may have played a role.

Plus, are we seeing a turning of the tide with national baseball writers and their opinion of the Houston Astros?

Bob Nightengale wrote this about Carlos Beltran and the Hall of Fame recently:

But we’re really going to ignore all of that and admonish him for participating in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.
Are we going to do the same with everyone who played for the Red Sox and Yankees during those years, too, when they were fined and disciplined for the illegal use of Apple Watches and dugout phones to relay signs?
Should we hold that against future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander, who obviously didn’t benefit from the sign stealing as a pitcher, but didn’t tell his teammates to stop it?
Enough already.
We’re not talking about performance-enhancing drugs here. Sign stealing has been going on for the past 100 years. There are teams who have used hidden cameras for years. Team employees flashed signs from outfield seats and scoreboards.

Check out the video above as we break it all down.

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