Harden’s Triple Double Helps the Nets Sink the Rockets
In James Harden‘s first time returning to Houston as a Brooklyn Net, he let Rockets’ fans know what they are missing. The Nets beat the Rockets 132-114, extending the Rockets’ losing streak to 13 games. Despite a nice tribute video that celebrated his eight years there, Harden showed no mercy by racking up 29 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. It was his second triple double in as many nights, as he put up 30-15-14 on Monday night against the Spurs. Harden led his team in points while John Wall took that honor for the Rockets with 36.
Dominant First Half for Brooklyn
The game started with the Nets jumping out to small leads for the beginning of the first quarter. Even though the Rockets were able to briefly shift the tide in their favor, the Nets quickly bounced back. In fact, the Rockets weren’t able to regain the lead for the entire second quarter–despite Wall’s best efforts. He finished the half with 21 points, the most for the Rockets. On the other side of the court, you could tell Harden felt comfortable in his old stomping ground. He finished the half with 14 points, leading the team. Right behind him, however, was Nicolas Claxton; he finished the half with 12 points. In Monday night’s 124-113 OT win against the Spurs, he finished the entire game with 17 points. His improvements are definitely something to keep an eye on as the season continues. The Nets finished the half leading 67-54.
Keeping the Foot on the Gas
It turns out that the Rockets were never able to regain the lead for the rest of the game after briefly leading in the first quarter. Sustained offense from the Nets meant that the Rockets weren’t even able to tie it at any point in the second half. Harden maintained his great play, scoring 15 points and going 2-4 from the three-point line. Kyrie Irving, who seemed a little out-of-sorts, stepped up by scoring 13 points and going 3-6 from the three-point line. Despite being a starter in this weekend’s All-Star Game, Brooklyn’s next game isn’t until next Thursday–which should give Irving some much-needed rest. In addition to these two strong performers, Joe Harris had himself a nice second half. He went 3-4 from the 3PT line while scoring 14 points, a sharp increase from the five points he scored in the first half. With the help of these three players, the Nets were able to extend their lead to as much as 23 points. Houston was able to shave some of this off and finish the game down by 18 points. Wall once again carried his team by scoring 21 points.
What’s Next for the Nets
This is the Nets’ final game before the All-Star Game on Sunday, March 7th. Afterward, they will have a brief break before returning to action next Thursday, March 11th. That game, against the Boston Celtics, will open a three-game homestand. From there, it’s a sprint to the finish line of the playoffs. Only a half of a game separates them and the first-place Sixers. If Harden can continue this form, there is no way they won’t close that gap.