Rockets 107, Mavericks 91 - Taking Care Of Business

Photo by Mark Downey Lucid Images/Corbis via Getty Images

The Rockets came into the Toyota Center for the first time Saturday night with the hope of starting their season off 3-0 and boy did they succeed. The final score does not properly represent how badly the Rockets ran away with this one. Houston was nearing a 40-point lead by the time the 4th quarter came around and an all-reserve unit was rolled out to finish the game.

What drove this enormous deficit? None other than James Harden. The Rockets outscored the Mavericks by 31 points in the 29 minutes James Harden was on the floor. The Beard was firing on pretty much all cylinders tonight. After struggling to find his shot in Houston's last victory in Sacramento (Harden shot 8-21 from the field and 4-14 that night), he managed to find his stroke out the gate.

Harden shot 10 for 19 from the field and a blistering 6 for 13 from 3-PT range tonight (included a stretch where Harden nailed 4 straight 26 footers). Although Harden was on tonight, the team as a whole struggled greatly to find their rhythm from behind the arc. The Rockets shot 12 for 25 from downtown tonight and even though the offense looked fine and they took a ton of 3s, the ball just never managed to find the bottom of the net.

Defensively however, the Rockets looked stellar. Houston limited Dallas to just 91 points and forced 14 turnovers. The Rockets got into transition several times and got a lot of their points in the paint. The Rockets won this game in convincing fashion, but wasn't all that great however.

The Rockets still have a lot of kinks to work out. In transition, the Rockets still have a ways to go defensively. Lineups where James Harden isn't in the game have been a mess offensively. With Chris Paul out, Eric Gordon has taken on the role of 2nd unit offensive creator, but the drop off from the 1st to 2nd unit offense is certainly noticeable. Gordon is best used as a complimentary ball handler and he's just not the level of passer of a James Harden or Chris Paul (obviously). Mike D'Antoni will have to get creative as to how he cobbles together better 2nd unit offense.

On the whole, however, Eric Gordon looks fantastic. Since this offseason was the first offseason in years where Gordon wasn't rehabbing some nagging or season ending injury, he spent the summer working on his body and his game. His improvement in his explosion and first step is definitely noticeable as Gordon is just getting to the rim at will in these first few games. He's getting a lot more and-1 drives and showing signs of the guard many thought would be among the best shooting guards in the league when he was a rookie.

So while it wasn't always perfect, the Rockets took care of business at home against a team they were supposed to beat and did just that, despite the Chris Paul injury. We're starting to get a clearer image of what this Rockets team is, and it's looking pretty good.

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