Rockets 122, Pelicans 100 - Rockets break records in ninth straight win

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The Houston Rockets extended their win streak to nine on Friday with a historic win against the New Orleans Pelicans. Houston broke two NBA records with regards to three-point shooting – for attempts in a game (61) and for makes in a game (24).

The Rockets got to work early in this one and essentially put the Pelicans away by halftime. James Harden was, yet again, absolutely masterful with the basketball in his hands, getting anything he wanted on the offensive end of the floor. He made unbelievable passes look easy and made great decisions, leading to his 15th career triple-double – passing Hakeem Olajuwon to lead the Rockets all-time in that category. He recorded the triple-double at the end of the third quarter, finishing the game with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists.

By halftime, the Rockets were up 72-50. They hit 14 threes in the first half, meaning that, for the second game in a row, Houston would have a good chance of breaking the single-game record of three-pointers made (23). The Pelicans are not a good team, despite the supreme talents of Anthony Davis, but the Rockets were brilliant in the first half, nonetheless. Harden had 16 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists, Trevor Ariza had 17 points, Eric Gordon had 13 points, Clint Capela had eight points and eight rebounds, and Patrick Beverley had eight points, six rebounds, and four assists. Everyone got in on the action.

The Rockets came out of halftime flat, missing their first five shot attempts (also, Capela missed two free throws) and allowing the Pelicans to go on an 8-0 run. Interestingly, Anthony Davis started the second half in the locker room with a contusion on his left leg that needed attention. He would return briefly early in the third quarter, but was ultimately shut down for the game.

Beverley would hit a three to end the Rockets drought, and Harden would drain back-to-back triples to give Houston a rhythm it didn’t have to start the third period. Also, as is always the case when the Rockets run flat, Mike D’Antoni subbed in Montrezl Harrell to immediately inject some energy into the team. Montrezl’s hustle and Eric Gordon’s continued hot streak helped the game feel more like the first half. Houston was up by 18 points by the end of the third.

The Pelicans made the game just difficult enough for the Rockets in the fourth quarter, and James Harden had to check back in to close the game out. Good thing he did because he hit a deep pull-up jumper to hit Houston’s 23rd three of the game (tying Houston’s own record, set in May of 2013). With less than one minute left in the game, Ryan Anderson hit a three to set a new NBA record and Toyota Center erupted in applause. The players must have felt a huge sense of relief, as every three pointer heaved towards the rim was met with anticipation from the crowd. The tension at the end of the game got palpable – the fans REALLY wanted this record.

The Rockets continue to give their fans wins and a fun brand of basketball. Taking the streak to double-digits, however, will be a tough task as the Rockets head to Minnesota to take on the talented Timberwolves (who will be on three days rest).

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.

Friday’s game ball goes to James Harden.

Several players would make good candidates for this game ball: Eric Gordon scored 29 points and hit seven threes, Patrick Beverley nearly got a triple-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists, and Trevor Ariza scored 20 points and recorded three steals.

However, James Harden recorded another massive triple-double (and became the Rockets all-time leader in that category) and, perhaps more importantly to the fans at Toyota Center, hit the record tying three-pointer. Harden continues to pad his MVP resume and rack up victories for the Rockets.

This is probably one of the most fun Rockets teams of all time, and watching Harden is a major part of that.

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