Houston Rockets: James Harden Takes Over Late to Sweep Nuggets
By Kelly Iko
James Harden scored 15 of the Houston Rockets’ final 17 points as they took care of business in the final game against Denver, sweeping the season series.
The 2015-16 season was not the best of times for the Houston Rockets. Denver actually swept the season series with them last year!
On Wednesday night, however, Houston righted the ship and finished the sweep with a win over the Nuggets.
At 53-25, the Rockets are virtually locked into the third seed and cannot move up or down. With four games left to go, they should look to rest their key players ahead of the playoffs.
Playing without Ryan Anderson for the sixth consecutive game, Troy Williams got the starting nod alongside Trevor Ariza at the forward positions.
In typical Houston Rockets fashion, the Rockets jumped out to an early double-digit lead that got as large as 17. Missed shots and turnovers slowly let Denver creep its way back into the contest, tying it up at 71 with 5:01 remaining in the third. For such an elite offense, Houston had to lean on its defense tonight to seal a victory, especially with a shortened rotation.
Mike D’Antoni only used eight players throughout the night–something we should get used to. As the playoffs draw near, coaches solidify their rotations and usually will go eight or nine deep.
Defensively, Houston was firing on all cylinders, forcing the Nuggets into 39% shooting overall and just 18% from downtown.
James Harden stole the show with another MVP-like performance, dropping 31 points, 10 assists, and 7 boards. The Rockets needed a huge lift late in the fourth quarter when it looked like Denver would steal a win. As has become typical, the Beard stood up to the task and carried his team like he has done time and time again.
James Harden (31/10/7) delivers the "clutch" dagger 3 in final minute to officially clinch the No. 3 seed for the #Rockets (53-25). #MVP pic.twitter.com/WyaNDOw9qP
— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) April 6, 2017
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(In Memphis, Russell Westbrook was a rebound away from a triple-double Wednesday, but the media couldn’t care less. James Harden’s heroics once again swept under the rug. He’s the “People’s Champ” for a reason. But I digress.)
Nene, looking fresh and well rested, chipped in 16 much needed points off the bench. The savvy vet will be called on to produce for the Rockets come playoff time.
Per Calvin Watkins of ESPN, Ryan Anderson hopes to practice Thursday and be back in action after that. He is a key cog in this team and any hopes of real postseason success require his services.
Ryan Anderson said he expects to practice on Thursday and hopes to play Friday against the Pistons. He's out of a walking boot.
— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) April 6, 2017
The Houston Rockets take on the Detroit Pistons on Friday night in a game where more rest should be on the table.
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