After losing 112-92 to the Golden State Warriors Friday, the Houston Rockets became the second team in NBA history to start the season with back-to-back 20 point losses at home. (1972 Portland Trail Blazers)
Although James Harden and Dwight Howard got off to a sluggish start, both teams started the game as if it was still the Western Conference Finals. Ty Lawson scored 7 of the Rockets’ first 16 points, and rookie Montrezl Harrell’s 11 points kept the Rockets in striking distance in the first quarter though they trailed 30-29 by quarter end.
However, the second quarter was a nightmare for the Rockets. Houston shot 5 for 22 from the field, and the Warriors went on a 13-0 run to give them a 14 point lead midway through the frame. While the Rockets struggled from the field shooting 34.9 percent, and were a dreadful 28.6 from behind the arc, Stephen Curry’s 17 points gave the Warriors a 57-44 lead heading into the half.
Coming for that really big ring https://t.co/L1TjGVCqaX
— The Dream Shake (@DreamShakeSBN) October 31, 2015
When Harden connected on a step back jumper to start the third it seemed to ignite the Rockets’ offense who cut the deficit to 8. Unfortunately, the out burst was short lived as they missed their final 7 shots of the quarter. The real issue was the Rockets defense which didn’t fare much better than their offense as the Warriors won every quarter and had put the game out of reach leading by 16 points (81-65) entering the final frame
Golden State continued to dominate the fourth quarter outscoring Houston 31-27, before sending the Rockets home with their second straight loss to start the season. Stephen .Curry led the defending champions with 25 points, 6 assists, and 7 rebounds, while Montrezl Harrell led Houston with a career high of 17 points. With indications Terrence Jones is unlikely to come to terms with a rookie contract extension prior to the deadline of November 2nd, the rookie’s energy, motor and output already have fans and pundits wondering if Jones will finish the season in Houston.
The Rockets will hit the road for the first time this season Sunday, when they face off against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena and follow up the next evening versus Oklahoma City in their first back to back series of the season.
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In the first two games of the season, James Harden has not looked like himself. After shooting 6 for 21 in Wednesday’s night loss to the Denver Nuggets, Harden’s woes continued Friday night as he shot a miserable 4 of 18 from the field, and 1 for10 from behind the arc. Harden’s poor shooting placed his differential at a team worst minus -16.
Yes, it is early, but Harden is the only MVP candidate from last season that has gotten off to an awful start. Hopefully Harden can get his mojo back and adapt to his new less ball dominant role. It’s too early to say this would put the Rockets’ season in jeopardy, but at the same time winning games on your home court especially to teams like the Nuggets are crucial to helping position the Rockets at season end. Let’s hope the Rockets on court chemistry is resolved sooner than later and that the bearded man’s poor shooting stroke through his first 2 games is an aberration.
In his first action since October 5th, Dwight Howard returned to the lineup against the Warriors, but it was not what fans expected. The all-star center ended the game with a single-single of 9 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 4-11 from the field. Not only did Howard struggle offensively, but could not stay out of foul trouble.
Five fouls limited Howard’s return to 21 minutes. The Rocket’s not only need a healthy Dwight Howard, but a smarter one as well. Howard has to stop picking up pointless fouls if the Rockets want to make this a championship season. He’s been in the league long enough to recognize when the referees are calling the game in a specific manner, so he needs to adjust his choices, not repeat them.
Trez doing work! https://t.co/t2sxV7sf9T
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) October 31, 2015
Even in the midst of a blowout, there were still some positives Houston can take away from the loss. For the second consecutive game Montrezl Harrell played the biggest role in Friday’s night loss to the Warriors. Not only did he lead Houston with a career high of 17 points, but his defense and high energy was a spark off the bench for the Rockets. If Harrell can continue to play like this throughout the season, he will carve out a significant role for himself in Houston as the season progress.