It wasn’t pretty, but the Rockets cranked out another victory and spoiled the Sacramento home opener, beating the Kings 105-100 Wednesday night.
Despite Chris Paul sitting with an ankle injury and a poor shooting night, the Rockets were resilient and found a way to win anyway. Eric Gordon got the start for CP3 tonight, and he was amazingly effective despite a rough three-point shot. He scored 25 points tonight and his +12 lead the team tonight. The team just looks better with Gordon out there. He’s another shot creator and takes a lot of pressure off of Harden and Paul.
Houston struggled to hit their shot all game long, shooting just 39.8 percent from the floor. The Rockets heaved up shots early and often from beyond the three point line, but the shots just didn’t fall. They had to rely on the pick-and-roll combo of James Harden and Clint Capela, which was extremely effective. Harden was one assist shy of a double-double with 29 points and 9 assists. Capela scored 22 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds.
The Rockets played this game very closely with the Kings and never broke free from them. Houston took the lead early in the second quarter and never looked back, but the lead never grew to be more than 11 points. The rebuilding Kings stuck with a talented Rockets team and should be impressed with their performance. The team only trailed by four at halftime and were a possession away from tying the game with less than a minute to go.
Despite a poor shooting performance from the field, the team did shoot well from the free throw line. Houston made its first 20 free throws, and went 27-for-29 on the evening overall. The team was sent to the free throw line many a times in the waning moments of the game, but they lived up to their name Clutch City and sank them.
For Sacramento, three former Kentucky Wildcats shined. Rookie De’Aaron Fox looked promising with 14 off the bench and Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere each had double-doubles. Cauley-Stein lead the team in scoring with 21.
Houston’s win tonight was an ugly one, but a win nonetheless. Despite a poor shooting performance, the team proved that it is versatile enough to play multiple styles and can play any matchups a team offers. Tuesday night, the team showed off a small ball lineup with P.J. Tucker at the five. However, that did not work tonight with Sacramento’s big man factory. Capela was able to stay in longer and play 28 solid minutes and Nene, who did not play last night, backed him up with nine points in 17 minutes off the bench.
I know it’s early, but you gotta like what the Rockets are doing now. The team is still looking to piece the team together but are still able to pull out wins. As of today, nobody else in the NBA can say they are 2-0 except for the good guys from Houston, Texas.
The Rockets now gets some rest as they head home to face the Mavericks in Saturday’s home opener. Tipoff is at 7:00 CT.