National Basketball Association
Houston 117, Brooklyn 103
When: 8:00 PM ET, Monday, November 27, 2017
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
#36 Brent Barnaky, #9 Derrick Stafford, #39 Tyler Ford
HOUSTON -- Houston coach Mike D'Antoni mildly rebuffed the notion that his team needs to be tested against superior opposition, but his resignation over the uneven performance the Rockets delivered on Monday night spoke to the reality that a stiff challenge might be welcome.
James Harden produced another breathlessly efficient scoring performance and the Rockets rode his hot hand to an easy 117-103 victory over the Brooklyn Nets at Toyota Center.
The Rockets (16-4) extended their winning streak to five games, each by a double-digit margin, behind Harden. He totaled 37 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, making 12 of his first 15 shots, including 7 of 8 3-pointers before cooling off in the fourth quarter.
Harden poured in 20 points without a miss in the first quarter as Houston took a 21-point lead it would not relinquish.
"James' first quarter is probably one of the best first quarters I've ever seen," D'Antoni said. "That was unbelievable, the first quarter he had."
Harden opened 8-for-8 before missing a driving layup in traffic with 1:50 left in the half. Houston needed Harden to help restore order in the second quarter after the Nets (7-13) switched to a zone defense, scored 22 points in the paint and repeatedly beat the Rockets off the dribble, with guard Caris LeVert inflicting significant damage by recording 12 of his 13 points.
Houston shot 64 percent in the opening period, connecting on 9 of 17 3-pointers. The Nets' gambit defensively confused the Rockets just long enough to pave the path for a modest rally.
"Very little (practice), but when they scored 43 points (in the first quarter) we had to do something different," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. "They scored a lot of points and I thought that it (the zone) helped slow them down and made them pause and think a little bit."
Said Harden: "It was a blur just because they went zone and it threw us for a loop. We weren't making shots and the zone kind of messed us up a little bit. They got a lot of easy buckets, a lot of easy layups and that's the thing we can correct. If they're making tough shots over us, that's different, but they were getting a lot of easy layups and we weren't helping each other out, so we can correct that."
After Brooklyn closed to within seven points on a Spencer Dinwiddie 3-pointer, Harden responded with a 3 and later added a driving layup at the buzzer to rebuild a double-digit lead. The Nets opened the second half with a 12-5 spurt but the Rockets mustered another response.
When Harden followed his dunk with a free throw and a driving layup, Houston led by 15. For all its feistiness, Brooklyn didn't unearth the personnel to prevent Harden from dominating.
"He's a really good player and he's in a great rhythm right now," LeVert said of Harden. "He's hitting a lot of shots, a lot of contested shots. He's a player that us young players aspire to be like one day. He's definitely one of the better players in the league."
Clint Capela added 20 points for Houston, Ryan Anderson chipped in 13 and Eric Gordon 12. Chris Paul shot just 1 for 7 but had 14 assists without a turnover plus six boards and two steals.
Isaiah Whitehead scored 24 points off the bench for the Nets, who had six players reach double figures. Dinwiddie and LeVert totaled 27 points on 12-for-28 shooting with 13 assists.
The Rockets finished 20 of 50 on 3-pointers, their fifth consecutive game with at least 18 3s. No other team in NBA history had a streak longer than two games. That flash proved sufficient.
"That's utopia. That's not possible," D'Antoni said of sustained excellence over an 82-game schedule. "So, I just cry around and moan around for a while. I'll be all right. I'll get over it."
NOTES: The Rockets and Nets combined to hoist 88 3-pointers in their previous meeting, a 137-112 Houston win in Brooklyn on Jan. 15. They totaled an NBA-record 89 3s on Monday night. ... One night after scoring a season-high 24 points at Memphis, Nets F DeMarre Carroll was sidelined by an upper respiratory illness. Carroll joined Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (ankle), Allen Crabbe (back), D'Angelo Russell (knee) and Jeremy Lin (knee) as unavailable rotation players. ... Rockets F Ryan Anderson returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench against the New York Knicks last Saturday. Houston coach Mike D'Antoni will continue to experiment starting F P.J. Tucker over Anderson depending upon the matchup.
Top Game Performances
Isaiah Whitehead 24
James Harden 37
Spencer Dinwiddie 7
Chris Paul 14
Jarrett Allen 8
James Harden 10
Sean Kilpatrick 4
||Free Throws Made
Clint Capela 4
Trevor Booker 2
James Harden 2
Timofey Mozgov 2
Clint Capela 2
Team Stats Summary
Houston will play their next game at home against Indiana. The Rockets have a W/L % of .800 after a win and .800 after a loss.
Brooklyn will play their next game on the road against Dallas. The Nets have a W/L % of .143 after a win and .462 after a loss.