Rockets weekly report
The Houston Rockets rebounded after a tough loss to start the week with a pair of big wins against top Western conference teams.
The Rockets dropped a game to the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center, which ended in a league-wide scandal.
The NBA suspended the Rockets’ Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green for two games because of a scuffle in the locker room and they missed the games against the West’s #4 Timberwolves and #1 Warriors.
Luckily for the Rockets, James Harden and Luc Mbah A Moute returned from injuries and helped the Rockets beat Minnesota Thursday night, holding them to under 100 points.
Revenge against Warriors at Toyota Center.
The week culminated in a showdown against Golden State Warriors who were only missing Andre Iguodala on Saturday night.
Considering that Golden State handled Houston just two weeks ago in that same Toyota Center without Kevin Durant being available, one may have expected more of the same with KD back in the lineup.
After a poor offensicve game against Minnesota, James Harden shook of the rust with three straight 3-pointers early versus the Warriors.
The rest of the Rockets knocked down 14 of 37 shots from beyond the arc and got to the free throw line 29 times.
Houston fully exploited Golden State’s main weakness, rebounding. Rockets outrebounded the Warriors by 13, grabbing 12 offensive boards to Warriors’ four.
Rockets stealing the ball and taking care of it.
Ariza’s suspension was offset by the return of Harden and Mbah A Moute on the defensive end and the Rockets averaged a league-high 11.33 steals a game last week.
Moreover, the likes of Capela, Tucker & Anderson have been stealing offensive boards – 12 each per game, 4th in NBA.
Besides forcing turnovers, the Rockets also took care of the ball with just 12 total turnovers per game last week, 6th in NBA.
Paul, Harden, Gordon & Capela lead the charge.
Chris Paul had been carrying the offensive load while Harden was absent and it didn’t lower his production with the potential league MVP returning.
Paul was ranked among the best NBA point guards last week, averaging 23.7 points, 7.7 assists, two steals, 13 3-pointers, 7.7 rebounds, and making 13 3-pointers.
James Harden posted 16 points, 7.5 assist, two blocks, two steals and shot 43 percent from the 3-point line.
Eric Gordon led the team in scoring with 18.3 points per game, despite coming off the bench in the last two games.
Clint Capela delivered 17.3 points, two steals and three offensive rebounds per contest.
The trio of Capela, Harden, and Paul are 17-0 this season when they play together.
Upcoming week: Pelicans loom large
Ariza and Gerald Green return next week which improves their depth against the Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans.
Despite any emotional drainage after the big win versus the Warriors, Rockets should be favored in games against the Heat and the Mavericks.
New Orleans is another beast altogether. Led by the Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, the Pelicans have won 4 of their last 5, including a win against the Boston Celtics.
So if Rockets were to drop a game next week, Pelicans appear as the most likely candidate to pose Houston the most problems.