Harden after his 34-point performance vs. Mavericks
Two games into the regular season, the Houston Rockets are hanging their hats on something they couldn’t have a year ago, their defense. They held the Mavericks to 38 percent shooting en route to their second straight win to start the season, 113-105 on Friday in front of another sellout crowd at Toyota Center.
In the opener on Wednesday, the Bobcats only managed to shoot 36.7 percent, and the Rockets held the Mavericks to nearly the same percentage, 36 percent, before the Mavericks emptied the bench and those guys hit 6-of-11 shots to raise that percentage slightly.
Both Jeremy Lin and James Harden noted their defense was the catalyst that opened the door for a high-scoring first period.
“Our defense was amazing in the first half, especially in the first quarter,” Harden said. “That allowed us to get out in transition and get easy points and easy threes.
“If we can play like that for four quarters, it’s going to be tough to beat us”
Houston scored 38 points in the first quarter, nine more than they scored in any quarter this season. They hit 14-of-26 shots and held the Mavericks to 8 makes on 22 attempts on their way to opening up a 16-point lead.
“I loved the way we played in the first half,” Lin said. “We got stops, we played great defense.
“Usually when we play great defense our offense is a lot easier,” he said. “It’s a lot more simple and we get out and run. We need to make sure we continue to do that. We kind of let up in the second half.”
They scored six fast break points and made half of their ten 3-point attempts in the first quarter.
Before either team scored, Rockets center Omer Asik had to take a seat on the bench with a pair of fouls in the game’s first 51 seconds. Asik and Dwight Howard both ended up getting in foul trouble and they would spend just 3:50 of the game on the court together. Houston did not score during those minutes, meaning they put up 113 points during the rest of the game, just over 44 minutes tonight.
Houston grabbed 51 rebounds, led by Howard's 16 and Asik's 12. It was the second straight game of 50 or more rebounds. They had 50 or more rebounds in a game just nine times last year, going 6-3 in those games.
“We rebounded the ball,” Howard said. “We pushed it and got guys easy buckets. This is what we thrive off of.
"When we do that, it makes it tough for team,” he added. “We struggled a little bit in the half-court offense, but in the open court, that is when we are at our best.”