Harden comes up big in Houston win against the Thunder

Houston finally wins it’s first game of the season in dramatic fashion. The big story is, of course, James Harden’s huge game. He scored 37 points shooting 12-26 from the field as well as 4-12 from 3. He started the game making his first 3 shots, two pull up jumpers followed by a layup. I think him making the midrange shots forced the defender to start playing him closer, which made his drives to the basket deadlier.

When James Harden did his patented “stirring the pot” celebration going into halftime, I was a little worried that could come back to bite him because we had still been down by 11 at the time. Little did we know that the 2nd half would be even better than the first.

Westbrook picked up his 4th foul early in the third. This allowed Houston to go on a 14-2 run to take the lead 82-79 with 1 minute to go in the quarter. The 4th was a back and fourth slug fest. The game was tied at 99 with 4 minutes to go before the Rockets offense took it up another level. Their defense stepped it up another notch as well as the Thunder would only score 6 points the final 4 minutes of the game.

Other notes:

-Harden having his big game seemed to have a effect on the rest of the team. Howard had 16 points on 6-13 shooting and Lawson had a 14 point 11 assist night. It’s probably too easy to give Harden credit for their performances as well, but sometimes when one guy is playing well it opens things up for other players because the defense has to focus more attention on the star player.
-When the game got close in the 4th, there was a moment where Harden had the ball in his hands I was really concerned that the offense would become very iso-Harden heavy. And I could almost see the story being written about how the game was lost because we didn’t move the ball. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Lawson’s addition to the line-up finally paid off and the ball moved around a little more. Harden would get stopped on a drive attempt, and rather than hoist up a step back jumper, he had the option to pass to Lawson who would have a good angle on a drive.
-The Rockets had 12 turnovers, which is pretty low for Houston. The turnover thing is probably going to be something I keep going back to throughout the season because we were so bad at it last year. As I’ve pointed out before, Lawson doesn’t make a lot of mistakes when he’s handling the ball (although, he did have 4 this game).
-The Thunder, meanwhile had 25 turnovers. They also had 20 more rebounds than Houston, but when possessions are ending before a shot is taken, that can happen.
-Apparently Keanu Reeves character from 47 Rhonin starts at Center now for the Thunder.

Box Score:

 

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