Highlights: Harden leads Rockets to win over Dallas
It was a long and arduous night on the court for the Houston Rockets, but they pushed back the Dallas Mavericks at every turn and emerged with the 113-105 win to move to 2-0 on the season.
James Harden, despite a sore back and wrist, pumped in a game-high 34 points on 11-of-17 shooting and was brilliant offensively all game long.
Dwight Howard added 13 points and 16 rebounds, giving him 42 boards in his first two games with Houston.
For the second straight game, Howard and Omer Asik also each grabbed 12 or more rebounds. Asik finished with 12 boards and six points before fouling out early in the fourth quarter.
Dallas came into the game after their 118-109 victory at home at American Airlines Center where they shot 57 percent against the Atlanta Hawks. The Rockets provided much stiffer defense, holding the Mavericks to just 38 percent shooting, and that even got boosted a bit late in the fourth quarter when the reserves hit several three pointers.
That didn’t last long
The Rockets employed the twin towers starting lineup again, but just 51 seconds into the game it was over. Omer Asik picked up two early fouls and went to the bench. The duo was not on the court together again until the start of the fourth quarter. They combined for 15 rebounds and ten points in the first half. Asik picked up two quick fouls in the second half as well, so the towers played just 3:50 total together for the game. The Rockets did not score a single point in those minutes.
Look who’s starting
After starting all 82 regular season games last year, Jeremy Lin was in the starting lineup for the first time tonight. Lin did an excellent job pushing the tempo for the Rockets in the first half and scored 9 points on 4-of-7 shooting. It was announced earlier Friday that Pat Beverley would be out for 10-14 fays with a partially torn muscle in his mid-section. Beverley will rehabilitate the injury and then be re-assessed in about two weeks.
The game was over when…
James Harden took the ball on the fast break and drove hard to the goal, making sure Dirk Nowitzki would not be able to avoid contact. He did not and picked up his sixth foul. Harden completed the three-point play. It put the Rockets up 96-83. The Mavericks did not threaten again.
The Rockets held a 70-60 lead when Calderon intentionally fouled Dwight Howard in the backcourt. He’d been instructed to intentionally foul Howard. That pattern would continue for about three minutes. Ultimately, Howard would make 3-of-6 free throws during the “strategic fouling’ by the Mavericks. The bigger problem was actually on the other end where Howard was whistled for three fouls in roughly three minutes while defending Nowitzki.
The crowd went wild when Hoard finally hit one on his seventh attempt of the night. They went even wilder when he dropped the second of the two in as well. Howard offered no reaction, but teammate Pat Beverley jumped off the bench after each make. Beverley dressed in suit and tie, of course, on the inactive list tonight with rookie Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington.
Highlight of the night
With the Mavericks threatening to really make a game of it in the third quarter, James Harden aggressively took the ball through to the rim on the break against a trio of defenders. Fading away to his left, he dropped the shot in off the glass and drew the foul and completed the three point play at the free throw line. It put the Rockets up 81-70 with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Rockets will travel to Utah to play the Jazz Saturday night at 9 p.m. The Jazz play their second game of the season Friday night at Phoenix. Houston won the last three meetings with Utah last season and has won six of the last nine.