Rockets 109, Hornets 93 - Staying in Control

Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets' 16 point win over the Charlotte Hornets may have included a couple lead changes in the first half and some dips into the two-possession range later in the game, but this was never Charlotte's game to win. It was Houston's game to lose, and like an elite team should, they chose not to let this game slip out of their grasp. They played more minutes than they would have liked, but with so many players injured, the Rockets chose to seal the deal on this win, notch a triple double for James Harden, and move on to Memphis to face the Grizzlies again tomorrow.

Perhaps there was a potential Dwight Howard revenge games in there somewhere. He did have 19 points and 16 rebounds, after all. If the Hornets were a little better, he may have had his vengeance. Or if Kemba Walker had shot better than 8-22, they may have stolen the lead late in the third quarter, and maybe even held onto it. For that matter, perhaps the Hornets should have shot more threes, and scored a few more points. 29 of their 88 field goal attempts were from behind the arc, while the Rockets shot 57 times from downtown and only 28 from two-point range. Whatever the Hornets could have done differently, it was not to be. The Rockets kept up the attack, choked them on defense, and stuck to the plan until the plan led to a double-digit win.

James Harden remains the star of the team, and the only surprise was that he finished off a triple double in the closing minutes of the game. His 27 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists felt a lot like his absolute mastery from last season, and this game in general resembled a game from last season. With Trevor Ariza, Chris Paul and Nene all out with injuries, this is a very positive sign. This team will only improve from here, and they have a 5-1 record and an MVP-caliber star. As long as Harden can walk, the Rockets can win games.

Bobby Brown finally got some playing time, and he looked like an NBA player. He might have only shot 3-8 in his 26 minutes, but he only gave the ball up once compared to his 3 assists, and he looked like he knew what was expected of him. If Brown can be a passable NBA point guard, the Rockets may find the solution to an ongoing issue. With Chris Paul out with a knee bruise, the Rockets have only been able to run James Harden and Eric Gordon out at guard. TO their credit, they have both performed incredibly, but they alone are not enough. None of the guards Houston has tried have worked out, and being able to even tread water at point guard for 20 minutes a night would be a coup until Chris Paul returns.

It was overall an unremarkable game against a frankly unremarkable team, and it was a 16 point victory. The fact that the Rockets were able to hold the game out of reach, even as Charlotte made pushes, suggests a level of calmness and maturity that speaks well of the Rockets. They're only getting better, and they're only staying more in control.

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