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Houston Rockets Return to .500 Behind James Harden’s Monster Game

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The Sacramento Kings arguably one of the most intriguing teams this season, welcomed the Houston Rockets at Sleep Train Arena  for a match between a team still looking to mould its identity with a lot of new faces, and another one clearly not yet ready for the whole season with many players still out injured.

Even with the incredibly entertaining centers DeMarcus Cousins and Dwight Howard out, it turned out to be a rather pleasant high-paced game. Here is a look at what happened.

Game Notes

169. 110. 84. . 116

The Rockets started the game on fire, opening a 15 point lead, thanks to the work of young Swiss center Clint Capela taking advantage of the Kings poor defensive rim-protection (last in the NBA). Through the help of the bench and benefiting from Houston’s lack of a backup big – especially when Capela sat with foul trouble – the Kings managed to chip away and even threatened the Rockets lead at times.

Overall it was a high tempo game with Houston always in the driver’s seat. The match-up was riddled with turnovers as both teams combined for 37 turnovers (22 for Houston, 15 for Sacramento)

Player Notes

Best of the Best: James Harden

I was tempted to put down Clint Capela as the best player of the game, but he keeps having trouble with silly fouls. Plus James Harden had a monster game again. James seems to be getting his mojo back and although his three-point shot was better today, it requires more diligent work. The Beard scored 43 points and rounded off his stellar performance with 13 assists and 6 rebounds.

Honorable Mention: Clint Capela

Houston’s young backup center is developing fast. His ceiling is extremely high and he looks scary good. Capela had a great start, commanded the defense with huge blocks and on the offensive end reached a new career-high in points (13) plus he earned  his first double-double.  He needs to improve his screen-setting skills in order to stop committing so many silly fouls. Chuck Hayes could help him a lot with that.

The second rejection tonight. https://t.co/UBxOtoHBoy

— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) November 7, 2015

Best of the Worst: Omri Casspi The former Rocket Omri Casspi surely seemed to be willing to show his former team what he is capable of. The Israeli was knocking down shots from all over the place, including a very deep three-point shot. Casspi finished the game with 22 points and an impressive 77% field goal percentage.

That end to the 3rd though. https://t.co/jxfBUoFvot — Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) November 7, 2015

Where was he?

Rudy Gay had a tough, rough night. He lost open layups, free-throws, picked-up three fast fouls in the first two periods. Indeed it was painful to watch the talented small forward struggle like that. He ended up with 15 points but only because he was set by his teammates repeatedly. His plus/minus statistic was -23.

Three Things We Saw

  • Ariza’s Positioning: There is something very odd with Trevor Ariza‘s defensive role now that he’s the incumbent of the power forward position. He hasn’t seemed to figure it out so far and is leaving the lanes open for drives and easy layups. It appears when he is playing the four, he  is still defending as a winger worried about the long shot. Ariza is slowly but surely adapting to this new role thanks to his incredible defensive awareness, however it would be nice to see him contribute more to rim protection.
  • Marcus Thornton’s Season Hot Start: It can’t be stressed enough: Did anyone see this one coming when Daryl Morey signed the journeyman for the veteran’s minimum? At 28 years old Marcus Thornton is having a career-year with averages of 17 points per game and 45% of his three point-shots. Today he contributed with 16 points and knocked down 40% of his shots from beyond the arc. A-ma-zing.
  • Sacramento Kings Bench Points: With almost every starter in the team playing poorly, the Kings bench came to the rescue, Casspi, Ben McLemore and Darren Collison all had double figure points.

Next up: New foes and old Rivalries at Staples Center

More from Space City Scoop

The next game for your Houston Rockets is the  first time this season they play their victim of the 2014-2015 Western Conference Semifinals: The Los Angeles Clippers!

It’s time to revisit one of the most fiery and controversial rivalries with NBA’s most recently appointed team villains. It’s a great opportunity, as well, to watch Rockets former power forward – and one of the main reasons behind Clutch City’s comeback in the semifinals last season – Josh Smith. So get ready to stay up late and watch one of the most anticipated games of the season at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Next up on Saturday evening (November 7) the Rockets arrive in LA to play the Clippers. It’s sure to be a killer game with tip-off at 10:30 EST

Next: Win FanSided's Fan Of the Year!

Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the early season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.

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