SAN ANTONIO (Texas) • James Harden powered the Houston Rockets to an epic rout of the San Antonio Spurs in their National Basketball Association (NBA) second- round play-off opener on Monday.
Harden had 20 points and 14 assists, Clint Capela contributed 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Trevor Ariza added 23 points as the Rockets dumped the Spurs 126-99 to start their best-of-seven Western Conference semi-finals series.
"It's just one win," Harden said. "It's a good win but we've got to be ready for Game Two. They've got a lot of fight in them. We missed a few shots. We've got to play better in Game Two."
The Rockets sank a franchise play-off record 22 three-pointers on 50 attempts, inflicting the most three-pointers allowed by the Spurs in their play-off history.
San Antonio trailed by as many as 39 points in the team's largest Game One defeat in the play-offs. Their 69-39 half-time deficit was also their worst ever in the post-season.
27 The 27-point loss marks the San Antonio Spurs' largest all-time Game One defeat in the NBA play-offs.
"We lost and they won and they played better," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We competed but I don't think we executed in a very wise manner."
The Spurs and the Rockets, in their first play-off meeting since 1995, had the second- and third-best regular-season win-loss records respectively this season, both trailing the Golden State Warriors, who open the second round on today (Singapore time) against the Utah Jazz.
A 15-2 run to open the second quarter put Houston ahead 49-25. The Rockets had 30 assists on 40 baskets, their passing and fast pace humbling the veteran Spurs.
"There are no individual efforts here," Harden said. "I've been proud of that all year."
The Rockets also went 12-of-27 from three-point range in the first half, hitting more shots from beyond the arc than any team did in the first-round of the play-offs.
"Just taking what the defence gives us," Harden added. "Last series (against Oklahoma City) was a more 'grind-it-out' affair. We weren't really making a lot of threes, and we had to figure a way to get paint points. In this series so far, they gave opportunities to shoot threes."
Kawhi Leonard led San Antonio with 21 points and 11 rebounds but the Spurs made only 31-of-84 shots from the floor.
"They came out ready, they outplayed us tonight," said Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who was held to four points.
"They made most of their shots. I thought we made mistakes early. They took advantage of it. Once they had offensive rhythm they were rolling. We never really found ours."