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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Rockets defeat Pacers for first home win of the season

Posted: November 11, 2018 -- 11:24 p.m.

HOUSTON, TX -- Toyota Center

The Houston Rockets' offense awakened from a slumber in a 115-103 win over the Indiana Pacers Sunday evening. The Rockets made 20 three-pointers tonight after not making more than 16 threes in the previous 11 games this season.

James Harden scored a season-high 40 points on 9 for 20 field goal shooting and 14 for 15 free throw shooting. Harden also dished out a game-high 9 assists.

"It felt great, I think over these last few games our defense has been exceptional," Harden said. "Just offensively, we got opportunities, we got shots that we liked, they didn't fall last night; (but) tonight they fell. So like I been saying we’ve just have to keep pushing, keep pushing. As long as we're defensive (minded), we're good. The offense is going to come, you saw it tonight."

Chris Paul scored 26 points (8 for 13 field goals, 5 for 7 free throws) and handed out 5 assists.

"Usually, when shots start falling, you win," Paul commented. "The food taste better. You know, you sleep better. Everything is a little bit better, but you know, we’ve just got to keep playing the right way. I mean, last night we lost, but I think we liked the shots that we got, so it's a make or miss league, and we got to keep making them."

Harden and Paul combined for 29 of the Rockets' 44 points scored in the second quarter. Houston (5-7) outscored the Pacers 44-23 in the second period and led 76-54 at halftime. Houston shot 72.2% overall in the period: 13 for 18 on twos and 8 for 11 on threes.

"Again, when your two superstars (James Harden and Chris Paul) are superstars," said Rockets Head Coach Mike D'Antoni after the game. "And our defense is pretty solid, you know, we’ve got some other problems we got to get to work on. I think every team has to do that. We're not at the level we're going to be when it comes around April, but we need to be at a level that everybody else isn't better, and when they play that way, we are."

Indiana (8-6) scored the first 11 points in the third quarter to slice the Rockets' lead in half with an eleven point lead (76-65) with 9:48 remaining in the third quarter.

P.J. Tucker hit a three-point shot followed by a blocked shot and slam dunk by Clint Capela to boost the lead to 81-65. The Pacers made another run and pulled within 10 points (84-74) at the 4:43 mark of the third quarter.

Harden converted on a four-point play to begin an 18-7 run by the Rockets to end third quarter. Houston led 102-81 after three quarters.

Houston's offense bogged down in the fourth quarter. Houston scored just 7 points in the first 7 minutes and 42 seconds of the 4th quarter; and, the Pacers' offense had just enough spark to trim Houston's lead to 10 points (109-99) with 4:18 on the game clock.

The Pacers failed to capitalize on the Rockets' scoring drought in the fourth. Houston scored a total of 13 points in the fourth; but, the Pacers did not get closer than 8 points in the final 12 minutes.

The Rockets' 12 point win tonight is Houston's first double-digit win of the season. Houston won a franchise-high 38 games by 10+ points in 2017-18.

Clint Capela scored 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting tonight after shooting 4-of-9 last night at San Antonio. Capela has scored 15+ points in three of the past four games and six times overall this season (Rockets 4-2 mark; 25-2 in 2017-18).

"Making a lot of shots brings a lot of rhythm to our offense," Capela remarked. "And, we did a great job tonight. So, we just have to remember that this is our DNA, this is how we play, and we can't lose that.

"It just feels – this is us," Capela continued. "It feels good to be like oh, 'there we go, this is what we're doing, this is what we're here for.' It just feels good, and this is why I'm saying that we have to know that this is our DNA, this is something that we don't want to lose."

Houston's next game is at Denver Tuesday, November 13, at 8 p.m. Central Time.

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