Rockets 120, Cavaliers 128 - Cleveland not fazed by Harden's monster game

[embed align="center"]http://gty.im/528784872[/embed]

Tuesday marked the beginning of a rough five-game road trip for the Houston Rockets, who took on the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James and company were able to watch the Cleveland Indians potentially clinch a World Series win with the satisfaction of winning their own game, beating the Rockets 128-120.

The first half of this ball game was a tale of two Rockets teams – one with James Harden and one without.

The Rockets got off to a great start offensively with Harden working the pick-and-roll to perfection. Play after play, he found the rolling big man (whether that was Clint Capela or Nene) for at least five first quarter buckets, including a majestic behind the back dish that led to a dunk. Harden was clearly focused coming into this game; he was brilliant offensively, active defensively, and engaged in every aspect of the game.

Despite Cleveland exploiting Kevin Love’s matchup with Ryan Anderson (and subsequently Sam Dekker) for 10 points, the Rockets took a 35-29 lead to end the third quarter – behind an easy 13 points and 6 assists from the bearded one.

After playing the entire first quarter Harden took his normal rest to start the second, while Cleveland trotted out LeBron James with the bench unit. This lineup proved to be a disaster for Houston as Cleveland quickly went on a 17-2 run with Harden on the bench. While the Rockets managed to keep LeBron statistically in check, his presence was overwhelming during that run. Kyrie Irving was phenomenal in the first half, scoring 21 points on 63.6% shooting (draining all three attempts from beyond the arc).

It didn’t help Houston that Capela got into early foul trouble and that the Rockets couldn’t knock down many of their open looks from outside. In fact, while Harden hit 60% (3/5) of his three-point attempts, the rest of the team only hit 16.7% (2/12).

Harden finished the half with 22 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and team-high +11 (meaning that the Rockets outscored the Cavs by 11 points with Harden on the floor), but the Rockets were down 63-59.

The second half opened with Trevor Ariza taking an inadvertent shot to the face from Tristan Thompson. He would return to the game towards the end of the third quarter after getting a bandage under his right eye.

The third quarter saw better energy and contributions from key role players like KJ McDaniels, Sam Dekker, and Nene – with the big man even stepping out beyond the arc and nailing a three all the way from Progressive Field. Nene was better defensively, but the combination of himself and Ryan Anderson couldn’t keep Cleveland off the glass.

Harden continued to assert himself in the third, adding 9 more points, 4 more assists, and 2 more rebounds. More importantly, he kept the offense moving better than the Rockets had seen in previous second halves. This season, the offense has stalled in the second half but it wasn’t that dramatic in this third quarter.

After facing a one-point deficit (85-84) at the end of the third, the Rockets were entering dangerous waters with Harden heading back to the bench. At one point with roughly 8 minutes left in the game, Cleveland had all their star-power on the floor (LeBron, Kyrie, Love) while Harden stayed seated. That didn’t last long as he checked back into the game following a quick timeout from head coach Mike D’Antoni.

Despite the Harden-less Rockets holding their own to start the fourth, quick turnovers from both Harden and Capela led to 9 straight Cleveland points – pushing the lead to 10 (105-95). These turnovers were especially painful because the Rockets had been so good holding onto the ball the entire game – only committing 4 prior to that point (it was Harden’s first and only).

Improved shooting from beyond the arc kept the Rockets in this game as they hit 8 of 15 three-point attempts in the fourth quarter. Eric Gordon, in particular, got hot with 4 of those shots and physical defense (he finished the game with 5 fouls).

In the end, Cleveland’s ‘big 3’ was just too much for the Rockets to stop. Kyrie Irving finished with 32 points, Kevin Love had 24, and LeBron James fell 2 assists shy of a triple-double (18 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists).

Despite poor outside shooting, the Rockets should be encouraged that they hung in with the defending champions and only committed 7 turnovers. For this fast-paced offense, that’s very impressive.

Still, the Rockets fall to 2-2 on the season with a back-to-back matchup with the New York Knicks tomorrow night in ‘the Big Apple.’

Game Ball 

This is a segment of the game recaps that will give the proverbial game ball to a player that proved to be most valuable to the Rockets on a given night. This award won’t necessarily go to the player that puts up the best numbers, but to the player that made the greatest impact on the team – tangible or intangible.

The fourth game ball of the season goes to James Harden.

I mean, what else is there to really say about his performance tonight? The Rockets were a completely different team without him on the floor (disastrous in the first half). He finished with 41 points on 65% shooting (55% from three), 15 assists, and 7 rebounds, with only 1 turnover.

This was easily Harden’s best game of the season and that’s the kind of production that should be able to win the Rockets a lot of games this season. It’s just tough having to play against the defending champions. With this road trip coming up, Harden’s going to need to be just as good to make sure the Rockets don’t fall into an early hole in the standings.

11 comments:

  1. Hi There! We are searching for experienced people that might be interested in from working their home on a full-time basis. If you want to earn $200 a day, and you don't mind developing some short opinions up, this might be perfect opportunity for you! Simply click the link here NOW!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi There! We are looking for some people that are interested in from working their home on a part-time basis. If you want to earn $200 a day, and you don't mind creating some short opinions up, this is the perfect opportunity for you! Simply check out the link here NOW!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi There! We are searching for experienced people that might be interested in from working their home on a part-time basis. If you want to earn $100 a day, and you don't mind creating some short opinions up, this might be perfect opportunity for you! Simply check out the link here NOW!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi There! We are looking for some people that are interested in from working their home on a full-time basis. If you want to earn $100 a day, and you don't mind developing some short opinions up, this is the perfect opportunity for you! Simply click the link here NOW!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I loved as much as you'll receive carried out right here. The sketch is tasteful, your authored subject matter stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an shakiness over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this increase.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for your advice on this blog. 1 thing I wish to say is the fact purchasing consumer electronics items through the Internet is nothing new. The truth is, in the past decades alone, the market for online gadgets has grown drastically. Today, you will discover practically any specific electronic unit and product on the Internet, from cameras in addition to camcorders to computer components and games consoles.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for some other informative blog. The place else may just I get that type of info written in such a perfect manner? I have a mission that I'm simply now operating on, and I've been at the glance out for such information.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all of us you really know what you're talking about! Bookmarked. Please also visit my web site =). We could have a link exchange contract between us!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hey! I'm at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 4! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the outstanding work!

    ReplyDelete
  10. This web site is known as a walk-by way of for all of the info you needed about this and didn’t know who to ask. Glimpse right here, and you’ll definitely discover it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi There! We are looking for some people that might be interested in from working their home on a part-time basis. If you want to earn $100 a day, and you don't mind developing some short opinions up, this might be perfect opportunity for you! Simply check out the link here NOW!

    ReplyDelete