The Houston Rockets defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 108-104 to win their fourth consecutive game. James Harden was absolutely brilliant again.
A few weeks can make such a big difference in the NBA world. On Dec. 8, the Rockets lost by three points to the Dallas Mavericks, marking their seventh defeat in the last nine games at the time. Houston’s record fell to 11-14 and they were second to last in the Western Conference, ahead of only the Phoenix Suns. The Rockets were expected to turn around their early season struggles by this point and many fans began to question if they would even make the playoffs.
Fast forward to Dec. 29, and it’s a totally different story. After defeating the New Orleans Pelicans 108-104 in Smoothie King Arena, the Rockets are now on a four game win streak and they have won nine of their last 10 games.
When Chris Paul went down with another hamstring injury on Dec. 20 in Miami, it appeared as if all of Houston’s momentum went down with him, but James Harden has stepped up big in recent weeks.
Harden led the Rockets again on Saturday, scoring a game-high 41 points while grabbing 9 rebounds and dishing out 6 assists. The league’s leader in 3-pointers and free throws made also poured in 7 treys and made all 14 of his free throw attempts.
Eric Gordon added 21 points, making 9 of his 14 shot attempts. EG did most of his damage inside of the arc, which is ideal for a guy that has struggled with his outside shot for most of the season. Danuel House continues to impress in his starting role for the Rockets, as he scored 15 points and shot 3-for-5 from 3-point range.
Clint Capela had a very quiet night offensively, finishing with just 6 points. However, he limited Anthony Davis to just 13 shot attempts and 22 points. That’s definitely not a bad game by any means, but it is a win against one of the league’s most prolific scorers. Davis dropped 48 points and grabbed 17 rebounds on Friday night against Dallas.
At 20-15, the Rockets now hold the fifth seed in the Western Conference. They’re just 2.5 games behind Golden State and a mere 3 games behind the top seed. If Houston continues to win at this pace, they could easily become one of the top three teams in the conference. Not bad for a team that was on the outside of the playoff picture looking in just three weeks ago.