Rockets 117, Cavaliers 113 - Clint Trap

Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images


On a night when James Harden logged a triple double in a win over the perennial Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, Clint Capela was somehow the shining star. Without his tenacity on both ends of the floor and late-game heroics, the Rockets would likely have given up a game they led by 18 points in the second quarter and led by double digits in the fourth. The young center from Switzerland is having the best year of his career, continuing a trend the Rockets will need him to continue. He gives the Rockets one more edge in a league in which they need every edge they can get.

GAME BALL: Clint Capela

There's no reason to beat around the bush, here. Clint grabbed the game ball, dunked it, and then rejected LeBron James' game ball on the next possession. His rebounding instincts have been honed into a fine edge, leading to him grabbing 13 boards on the night, including 6 crucial offensive boards. He plays with a dedication to his role that is elite in this league. Perhaps one day, he will wish to expand his role and expand his agency in the Rockets offense. To date, however, he has been masterful and engaged in the role he has been given, and that role involves finishing a lot of alley-oops. With his improved free throw shooting as an unexpected icing on the cake, he stands to rake in a huge contract over this coming summer. He will deserve every single penny.

James Harden, of course, cannot be overlooked. He played a ridiculous 43 minutes in this game, something which must not be repeated. Despite his legs lookign dead at the end of the game and his play trending toward the sloppy, he was still the engine the Rockets run on, scoring 35 points via 21 shots and assisting on 13 other attempts. His 11 rebounds and 5 steals round out his triple-double, made all the sweeter because it came in a win. Harden is at the very height of his powers and is a creator nonpareil.

Eric Gordon remains his partner in crime and key element of the Rockets' offense. He scored 20 points on 16 shots and was absolutely necessary on both ends. Without Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PJ Tucker took on even more importance for the Rockets, being asked to play heavy defense. It may not have looked it, but limiting the Cavs to 113 points required a number of timely plays from Tucker, Ariza and Capela on the defensive end.

In a game that should have been a blowout, the Rockets had some lazy stretches but came out ahead in the end. LeBron James remains the best player in the NBA, but his team is currently not fitting of his talents. Between his efforts and Jeff Green's impersonation of a hall of fame level player, an easy win came tough. But in a very good sign for the Rockets, the win came nonetheless. Until Chris Paul returns, that's all they really need.

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