BOUNCE BACK: Rockets defeat the Suns 108 - 102
The Rockets bounced back after having their nine-game winning streak ended by the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night. Houston defeated the Phoenix Suns 108-102 behind a very strong game by MVP front runner James Harden. He finished the game with 41 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds, 6 steals and 3 blocks. That makes him the first player to post those numbers in a single game since steals and blocks became an official stat in 1973-74 according to the Elias Sports Bureau. With Chris Paul out due to rest, the Rockets needed everything Harden had to seal the game.
"You don't win without him and that's the problem," Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said when I asked him about the amount of minutes Harden played tonight. "Without Chris Paul, obviously it would take some of the burden off, but when CP is not here, James has to do it and he did it. Whatever it takes, he does," D'Antoni continued to say in his post-game press conference.
Houston received a big boost from Danuel House Jr. who was recalled from the G-League on Tuesday and added to the roster for the rest of the year. After not playing on Wednesday against the Warriors, House was inserted into the starting lineup and finished the game with a season-high 18 points. The Rockets are now 10-3 in the 13 games he has started this season.
"It just happened. I thought I was just going to come off the bench and work my way back, but like I said, they believed in me and I'm grateful for the opportunity and a chance to prove myself, so I just wanted to go out there and make sure that I didn't let people down," House said with a huge smile on his face when asked about starting the game.
Phoenix guard Devin Booker did everything he could to try and pull the Suns through to a victory by leading his team in scoring with 27 points and 7 assists. His teammate Deandre Ayton also chipped in 17 points and 14 rebounds. Although their record doesn't reflect it (16 - 54) Phoenix has a lot of potential to be great for years to come.
"I think a couple of pieces and we will be in the playoffs. If we can get a heavy hitter here we can make that stride and push for a championship. It's not going to be overnight and we understand that," said Booker when I asked him what will it take to get this young talent on this team over the hump.
The Rockets will be back in action on Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves to complete a four-game home stand.