In a game where James Harden shined in his return, the Houston Rockets dropped another game to the Indiana Pacers 108-104.
The Houston Rockets continued their shooting woes as they dropped another game to the Indiana Pacers 108-104. James Harden starred in his return to action with a 45-point, 17-rebounds, and nine-assist performance. The game saw Eric Gordon make his debut in the restart after injuring his ankle in the Rockets’ final scrimmage game.
Both teams went deep into their benches, and Indiana’s proved far more effective. The news that Russell Westbrook, who was scheduled to rest during the game, has a quad strain is of more concern to Mike D’Antoni and the Rockets than their uneven play against the Pacers.
The Rockets started incredibly hot and built up a 20-5 lead over the Pacers midway through the first quarter. However, the Pacers went on a 21-8 run to close the deficit to only two points. The Rockets, outside of Harden, struggled to hit their shots and were uncharacteristically loose with the ball as they coughed up 20 turnovers.
The Rockets held the lead going into the second quarter, but by then, Indiana had seized the momentum and would not relinquish it again until the game was almost out of reach.
At the beginning of the second quarter, the Rockets held a 33-29 lead, but an ice-cold stretch from the field allowed the Pacers, who also shot poorly, to take control of the game. The second quarter looked like a dog fight as the Pacers went 9-of-25 from the field, which looked downright impressive compared to the Rockets, who went 4-of-22.
As weak as the Rockets offense was, their defense helped to keep them within striking distance. They racked up four blocks and three steals and only allowed a single offensive rebound. The Rockets headed into halftime down 51-50.
The Houston Rockets stay afloat, but can’t overcome poor shooting
James Harden had a dominant third quarter and kept the Rockets offense afloat as everyone around him struggled to hit their shots. Harden scored 15 of the Rockets 27 points and tossed in three assists for good measure. Eric Gordon’s struggles from the field continued as he looked to work himself back into the flow of the offense.
The Rockets’ defense continued to be impressive, but their nine turnovers in the quarter undid much of the good work done on that end of the court. The Pacers were able to increase their lead by one over the Rockets.
The fourth quarter saw the game swing wildly in favor of the Pacers before a late rally, fueled by James Harden, from the Rockets brought the game within striking distance. The Pacers built a 14-point lead with five minutes left in the game before the Rockets rallied to bring the game within two at 106-104.
James Harden had planned to rest in the fourth quarter but demanded to go back into the game as he sensed the Rockets had a chance. Harden was almost proven correct but was unable to pull the rabbit out of the hat at the end. The Pacers showed their resilience in the early goings before they secured victory due to the Rockets’ poor performance.
James Harden was the only Rocket that showed up against the Pacers. He led the Rockets in scoring, rebounding, and passing and was the only player that shot above 42 percent from the field.
The Pacers did not even field a full-strength team as T.J. Warren, who has starred in the bubble, rested. The Rockets offense disintegrated whenever Harden was not on the court and highlighted their reliance on their superstar guards to generate offense.
Both teams are eyeing the postseason, but the Rockets’ poor shooting on back to back nights has to be of some concern. Eric Gordon, it was hoped, would help bolster their guard rotation but, as he has all year, he struggled to hit his shots, going 1-of-9 from 3-point range.