Chris Paul passes Isiah Thomas on assists list as Rockets defeat Mavs

Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images) /

In the Houston Rockets’ most recent win, Chris Paul once again made headlines by passing Isiah Thomas on the NBA’s all-time assists list.

Coming into Houston’s game against Dallas, Rockets’ guard Chris Paul was just four assists shy of passing Isiah Thomas for seventh on the all-time assists list. To no one’s surprise, it didn’t take long for CP3 to dish out his fourth dime of the game.

With 1:38 left in the first half, Paul picked up his fourth assists after he found P.J. Tucker open on the perimeter, leading to a 3-pointer.

One of the first prominent figures to congratulate Chris Paul was of course Isiah Thomas.

Congratulations @CP3 keep breaking records and raising the bar higher! @NBATV @NBAonTNT

— Isiah Thomas (@IsiahThomas) March 11, 2019

Paul’s milestone was a big moment for his career, but the Rockets had a game to win and Dallas wasn’t going to make it easy.

Related Story. Where will Chris Paul finish on the all-time assists list?

The Rockets took a 58-54 into the third quarter, but James Harden picked up his fifth foul just 20 seconds into the second half, sending him to the bench. Fortunately, Houston’s defense and Eric Gordon kept the Rockets ahead as Harden sat for the next eight minutes.

Gordon scored eight points in the third and the Rockets managed to out score Dallas 23-18 in the third period, mostly with Harden watching from the sidelines.

The Rockets took a 81-72 lead into the final period, but the Mavericks still had a lot left in the tank. Gerald Green nailed a 3-pointer to open the fourth which gave the Rockets a 12 point advantage, their biggest lead of the game, but Houston didn’t stay ahead by double digits for long.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Dallas in the span of 53 seconds cut the lead to just six points. With 7:21 left to go, a dunk from Dorian Finney-Smith cut Houston’s lead to just two points. With 4:09 left in the fourth, Tim Hardaway Jr. tied the game at 89 with a big 3-pointer, but then the Rockets started to step up their defensive effort.

Houston didn’t execute well down the stretch on offense, as they couldn’t get to the rim or create many open looks. However, they only allowed the Mavericks to score four points in the last four minutes of regulation.

The two teams traded misses for awhile, but P.J. Tucker hit a clutch 3-pointer with 1:29 left, putting Houston up 94-89. After Dwight Powell scored on consecutive possessions for Dallas, the Rockets had just a one point lead with the ball with 31 seconds left. Houston gave the ball to their best player, James Harden, and wisely ran the clock down. Unfortunately, Harden missed a floater in the lane, giving the Mavericks about 7 seconds to run down the floor and get a shot up for the win.

On a night that Chris Paul set a new offensive milestone, it was his defense that secured the win for the Rockets. Houston double-teamed Luka Doncic at the top of the key, forcing someone else to take the big shot. Doncic swung the ball to Jalen Brunson, who pulled up for a jump shot, but Chris Paul read the play and blocked the shot at the buzzer, giving the Rockets a 94-93 win.

This game was definitely one of Houston’s ugliest wins of the season, but it was a win nonetheless. The Rockets shot just 36.4 percent from the floor and 30.8 percent from 3-point range. They only made 63.6 percent of their free throws.

Eric Gordon led the team in scoring with 26 points and he also nailed five 3-pointers. Clint Capela also had another strong game with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

This game was a perfect lesson for just how important playing great defense is for Houston’s success. Chris Paul and James Harden combined for just 29 points on an ugly 9-for-36 shooting from the floor. The Rockets of three months ago would not have won this game with their two superstars shooting so poorly from the field.

Rockets are hitting their stride at a perfect time. Next

The Rockets have now won eight consecutive games, the longest winning streak in the NBA. They’ll look to make it nine straight when they take on Charlotte at Toyota Center on Monday.