Highlights: Rockets pick apart Blazers
If anyone wondered why the Rockets thought they were a perfect fit for Dwight Howard, tonight was a great example, with Howard playing a huge role in the team's 116-101 against Portland. Howard needed just 13 shots to pile up 29 points, thanks mainly to the fact he knocked down 9-of-12 from the free throw line. He also grabbed 13 rebounds and had Blazers center Robin Lopez in foul trouble throughout the game.
James Harden added 33 points on 11-of-18 shooting, his second 30 point effort of the season. Harden hit the biggest shot of the night, his last, a 3-pointer that pushed the Rockets lead from eight to 11 with just over three minutes remaining. Portland would not get the deficit any lower the rest of the night.
"James and Dwight had tremendous games," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said.
Essentially this is what you draw up when you are in the front office. The Rockets found a way to land both Harden, last year via trade, and now Howard via free agency, and to no one's surprise they are already showing they can really be a special duo.
"We had to get our momentum back," Harden said. "It started on the defensive end. Especially from the second quarter on, we just got out in transition and played our normal game."
If 62 points and 20 rebounds combined for Harden and Howard is their normal game, then the rest of the NBA is in trouble. Houston's win puts them at 4-1. They are the first team in the western conference to get their fourth win and they'll have a chance to avenge their only loss thus far, when the Los Angeles Clippers visit Toyota Center Saturday night as the middle game of the upcoming three game homestand.
"He's just a horse down there," McHale said about Howard. "He commands so much space in the paint. He's hard to deal with."
Howard helped the Rockets dominate the glass again as they won the rebound battle for the 5th time in five games and Houston outscored the Blazers 54-28 in the paint.
Howard maintained his spot at the top as the league's best rebounder, now averaging 14.6 per game.
"Dwight is just finding his rhythym and we're all finding our rhythym with him," McHale said. "I keep on telling him to be patient and as we get more time together, we'll all get better toghether."
And that's the scary part...for the rest of the league.