James Harden returns to MVP form in player grades from win in Memphis
By Josh Paredes
Houston Rockets James Harden Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
There were plenty of great performances for the Houston Rockets as they secured a much-needed 107-100 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday.
What a difference a little heart and hustle makes. From the jump, the Houston Rockets were out to make up for their humiliating loss in Miami by putting in effort on both ends of the floor. One particular sequence in the fourth quarter says all you need to know about Houston’s hustle on Monday:
This sequence happened with 6:08 remaining in the fourth quarter while the Rockets were up 94-84. Clearly, Mike D’Antoni’s message to the team about playing soft got through to the squad, as they demonstrated in this sequence, as well as the rest of the game.
Houston saw some desperately needed improvements to their defense, holding the Memphis Grizzlies to 100 points on just 3-of-25 shooting from deep. In Russell Westbrook‘s absence, Eric Gordon also finally had the type of performance the Rockets need from him. For the first time this season, James Harden showed his true MVP form, doing a little bit of everything without his superstar backcourt teammate.
The biggest difference-maker for the Rockets was their 17 to three advantage in 3-pointers made, as Houston shot 17-of-50 from downtown. While the team still has a lot of work to do on post defense (Memphis had a 66-36 advantage in points in the paint), it was a step in the right direction for H-Town.
Here’s a breakdown of the performances that helped Houston cap off their road trip with a 107-100 victory in Memphis.
Next: The Starters
Houston Rockets Eric Gordon (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
The Houston Rockets Starters
Next: The Bench
The Houston Rockets Bench
Houston Rockets Austin Rivers (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
*Note: Chris Clemons, Tyson Chandler and Thabo Sefolosha all played seven minutes or less, so were not graded. Of note, Sefolosha pulled down four rebounds in his seven minutes, including two offensive.
Defense and outside shooting, the two biggest areas of concern for D’Antonio’s Rockets, both took a step forward on Monday against Memphis. While certainly a good sign, they weren’t exactly facing a great team in the 1-4 Grizzlies. As Russell Westbrook returns on Wednesday, it will be important for the team to bring the same energy they had Monday night.
Next up for the Rockets, a date with the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.