The Houston Rockets defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in their preseason clash in Honolulu with 109-96. With the majority of big names skipping this game, the fans at Stan Sheriff Center were still able to see an exciting and interesting matchup. It was a clash of the two teams who will most definitely play a major role in the Western Conference.
The one superstar who did show up was James Harden. And he didn’t leave anyone indifferent. The Beard scored 37 points, and 7 boards and assists each. Though he didn’t shoot the ball very well, hitting just 8 of 22 attempts, Harden was, without a doubt, the best player on the court. He was aggressive, played like it is a competitive match and wanted to set a serious tone. After all, it is why he is one of the best players in the league.
“I always want to go out there and play well,” Harden said. “It is another opportunity for us the get better as a unit, work on certain things of practice.”
Houston was in control throughout the entire time and was confident on the floor. Though we need to say that the Clippers played without both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, which severely decreased their quality. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook didn’t appear for the Rockets, but it seems that it didn’t affect the overall performance of the Texas-based franchise.
The Rockets won the first quarter with 31-22, but the Clippers stormed down into the second, making a 12-1 run, which saw them even taking the lead at one moment. However, that is when Clint Capela woke up, and D’Antoni’s team responded with a 10-2 series. Eventually, Houston won that sequence also, and the result at the halftime was 57-40.
Things only became worse for the LA-team, who couldn’t catch the rhythm of the Rockets. At the end of the third, the result was 89-65, and in the opening moments of the final quarter, Houston reached its biggest lead of the game 91-65. Following that, D’Antoni moved his foot off the gas and decided to give a chance to the replacements and the guys who didn’t saw too much of an action in this one. In the end, the Clippers managed to get down and make this defeat less painful.
Besides Harden, Houston had two more players with a double-digit number of points, Chris Clemons with 15 and Capela, who added 14 with 11 boards.
“I think we got pretty good work,” D’Antoni told the reporters following the game, and underlined that the Clippers didn’t play their best basketball tonight.
He also spoke about the fact that Harden played a lot of minutes despite this being a preseason match. Houston’s head coach stated that in this phase of the preseason, the Beard wants to prepare as much as he can for the upcoming campaign, building both his confidence and resistance towards the adversities on the floor.
“You know that is a good thing about James, he loves to play basketball. It’s tough to get him off the court,” D’Antoni said with a smile.
Among the Clippers, Montrezl Harrell had 17 and 6 boards, Lou Williams added 13, Rodney McGruder 12, and Ivica Zubac 10. Doc Rivers’ team will face the Denver Nuggets in their next preseason match, in one week’s time.
Meanwhile, the Rockets are playing against the reigning champions, the Toronto Raptors, on Tuesday in Japan.