The Houston Rockets defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night, 117-113. Here are the three biggest takeaways from this high-profile NBA game.
In a big primetime matchup on Thursday night, the Houston Rockets were able to improve to 9-3 on the season by protecting their home floor against the Cleveland Cavaliers, 117-113. While it was a fury of threes in the first half, it was an ugly slog in the fourth quarter. Though an exciting game for sure, Cleveland falls to 5-7 on the year.
It was great to see two of the top five players in basketball play at their peak levels in James Harden for Houston and LeBron James for Cleveland. Harden got a little more out of his supporting cast in this one and that’s why Houston was victorious over the Cavaliers.
Here are the three biggest takeaways from the Rockets’ win over the Cavaliers..
James Harden is playing like an MVP. In case you haven’t watched a ton of NBA basketball in the first few weeks of the season, Harden is playing about as well as we could have hoped. Even without newly acquired point guard Chris Paul being sidelined since the first game of the season, Harden is not just carrying this Rockets team on his back, he’s making his teammates better.
Harden had a triple-double against Cleveland in this four-point victory for the Rockets and a game-high 35 points on 8-21 shooting. Sure, it wasn’t his best shooting night as a pro, but he did the necessary little things to lead his team to victory. He had 13 assists, 11 rebounds and five steals. The effort out of Harden tonight was tremendous.
You could tell towards the end of the game that he was tiring a bit. He did lay a game-high 42 minutes, as did small forward Trevor Ariza. There’s something about this Rockets team that could signify something different. Maybe an MVP year out of Harden gets Houston to the NBA Finals?
Clint Capela absolutely wrecked Cleveland in the frontcourt. Where Houston had its biggest mismatch was in the frontcourt. The Rockets clobbered the Cavaliers on the glass, 44-27. When a spindly Harden has 10 defensive rebounds, you know that Cleveland had some problems on the glass. Nobody benefited from that more than center Clint Capela.
When points were at a premium in the fourth quarter, it would be Capela that Harden would feed the rock to in the low post. Capela finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. He really took it to Kevin Love and the depleted Cleveland frontcourt sans Tristan Thompson.
Capela and Harden were on the same page the entire night. Their on-court chemistry was something Cleveland just could not overcome in the paint. When those two are playing like this, Houston is a mighty tough team to beat.
Hey, we got a little bit of a Jeff Green game! But mostly LeBron. While we know that James was going to get his and try to carry this struggling Cavaliers team, he did get help from one semi-unlikely source. Tonight, we got a patented Jeff Green game. Every year, Green will have about three or four of these games that he just takes over offensively.
Green had 27 points on 11 of 15 shooting in 37 minutes of action. He was easily the Cavaliers’ second best player in the game, only after James. His great play took a highly ineffective Jae Crowder out of the Cavaliers’ rotation. Three points from Crowder! Come on, man!
Even with what might be one of Green’s two best games of the season, it was wasted, as Cleveland couldn’t get a third player to join he and James on their quest for victory. Cleveland had its opportunity to pull off the upset, but getting pulverized on the glass was ultimately its undoing.