Rockets fire on multiple fronts

The Houston Rockets' James Harden has been in irresistible form lately to the delight of the home crowd, who saw him deliver a 32-point, 14-assist masterclass against the Western Conference leaders Denver Nuggets on Monday. Rockets centre Clint Capel
Rockets centre Clint Capela shooting over Nuggets counterpart Nikola Jokic on his way to a career-high 31 points as he ably supported Harden in the 125-113 victory.PHOTO: REUTERS
The Houston Rockets' James Harden has been in irresistible form lately to the delight of the home crowd, who saw him deliver a 32-point, 14-assist masterclass against the Western Conference leaders Denver Nuggets on Monday. Rockets centre Clint Capel
The Houston Rockets' James Harden has been in irresistible form lately to the delight of the home crowd, who saw him deliver a 32-point, 14-assist masterclass against the Western Conference leaders Denver Nuggets on Monday. PHOTO: REUTERS

Harden scores 32 and gets teammates going with 14 assists as Houston beat Denver 125-113

HOUSTON (Texas) • The Denver Nuggets had a plan to stop James Harden on Monday night as they aimed to maintain their stranglehold on the National Basketball Association's Western Conference.

The idea was to double-team the Houston Rockets point guard, who was on a 10-game streak with at least 35 points before the game at the Toyota Centre.

What the Nuggets failed to realise was that Harden is as good a provider as he is a scorer, and the 29-year-old produced a double-double to help the Rockets extend their home-court winning run to 10 games with a 125-113 victory.

Harden paired 32 points with 14 assists. Houston also received a career-high 31 points from centre Clint Capela (plus nine rebounds) and 21 points apiece from P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green.

"They for sure trapped me, for sure had two on the ball every possession," Harden said on ESPN after the game.

"It feels like every single game, I see a double-team or two on the ball mostly every possession. So I've got to figure out ways to impact the game, figure out ways to not only score, but get guys involved.

"He (Capela) did what he was supposed to do. He finished. He played extremely well. Played hard."

Harden's ability to score points and also provide assists for his supporting cast pleased his coach.

  • 10 

  • Games this season in which James Harden has tallied at least 30 points and 10 assists.

"He still had a boatload of points, and they double-teamed him on every play, which is unbelievable," Mike D'Antoni said. "Whatever they throw at him, he'll find the best play. He'll find a way to score. He'll find his way, but he'll also get everyone involved."

Tucker set a career high with seven three-pointers to help Houston (23-16) win for the 12th time in 14 games.

The Rockets also bounced back after having their six-game win streak halted by the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.

Green was equally impressive from beyond the arc as he made six three-pointers on a night the Rockets made 22 treys.

"Give them credit," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said on ESPN. "You know Harden is going to get his but, when P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green score the amount of threes that they made, I believe 13 combined, that's a tough one to overcome.

"Harden's also playing at a whole other level right now. MVP, all that. It's really kind of historic what he's doing."

The Nuggets (26-12) had a five-game winning streak snapped and lost to the Rockets for the second time this season.

Nikola Jokic paced Denver with 24 points and 13 rebounds while Monte Morris (21 points) and Malik Beasley (14) provided support off the bench.

Jamal Murray added 13 points and fellow guard Gary Harris 14 in his first start since returning from a prolonged injury absence.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2019, with the headline 'Rockets fire on multiple fronts'. Print Edition | Subscribe