Houston beats the Clippers on the back of Harden’s big game
In a game where the Clippers were without Chris Paul against a team with two all-star caliber players in Howard and Harden, it’s kind of hard to look at this win as a benchmark of any kind. But that being said, Houston was on the 2nd night of a back to back on the road and they were throwing Trevor Ariza at Blake Griffin the entirety of the game. So this wasn’t an easy win by any means.
A few notes:
-James Harden went for 46 points on 14-26 shooting, including a season high 5-10 from behind the arc. This a night after scoring 43 on the Kings. He started the season off in slump, but has seemed to turn it around the past couple of games.
-As I alluded to earlier. With Jones and D-Mo out with injury, that meant Ariza would have to guard Blake Griffin. Griffin had a good night as well scoring 35 on 14-22 shooting. I would almost count that as a victory for the Rockets. He should’ve had a much better night. It helped that several of the possessions we were able to force him into a shot from 14-20 feet out (which he made a few of those anyway). It wasn’t like he just lived at the rim.
-Dwight Howard was stellar on the defensive end again. He didn’t really guard Griffin during the game, but his ability to patrol the paint and sort of make it hard for Griffin to get anything easy inside if/when he got in the paint. This was where Chris Paul was really missed, because had he played in this game, Dwight would’ve had to stay closer to Jordan who is a threat to recieve Chris Paul’s lobs.
-There was a period during the 4th where both teams started intentional fouling. When Houston went up by 9, Doc first tried to intentionally foul Clint Capela, who went 3-4 from the line, and eventually Howard got intentionally fouled and he made a few. Meanwhile Houston was intentionally fouling DeAndre Jordan back and he was 2-6. It was good to see us make those free throws down the stretch to punish that strategy.