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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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Rockets absolutely demolish the Cavs, 141-113
Posted: January 11, 2019 -- 11:29 p.m.
HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets made quick work of the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night; and, James Harden was sensational once again. The Rockets blasted the Cavs 141-113; and, Harden produced a 43 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists triple-double. In 29 minutes.
The Rockets' 141 points tonight is the most points in a regulation game Houston has scored since scoring 142 at Phoenix on November 16, 2017.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Harden is the first player in NBA history to record a 40-point triple-double while playing fewer than 30 minutes in a game. It is Harden's third 40-point triple-double over the past six games and the 12th of his career. Only Oscar Robertson (22) has more.
Harden shot 50% (12 for 24) from the floor - including 8 for 16 on three-point shots -- and a perfect 100% (11 for 11) from the foul line.
The Cavs (8-35) led 5-2 and 7-5; but, Austin Rivers sank a 12-foot floater in the paint to tie the game at 7. Next, Danuel House, Jr. dunked and sank a free throw to complete a three-point play to put the Rockets ahead 10-7. Houston led the rest of the ball.
Houston led 42-22 at the end of the first quarter.
"We did what we had to do," Clint Capela said after the game. "We were focused from the jump. We wanted to respect these guys from the jump, we did a good job tonight, and it was important for us and our confidence to get our win."
Capela scored 19 points (7 for 8 field goals) in 29 minutes. House scored 14 while Rivers and Brandon Knight each scored 12. P.J. Tucker scored 10. Eleven Rockets played in the game; and, all 11 scored at least 4 points.
Brandon Knight's 12 points were the first time scoring in double-figures since scoring 11 for the Phoenix Suns against the L.A. Lakers on February 15, 2017, which was his final game prior to making his season debut for Houston on December 13, 2018 (666 days between games).
Houston has won 13 of its past 16 games and is 24-17 at the halfway point of the season. The Cavaliers pick up their 12th straight loss.
Currently, Houston is 4.5 games behind the first-place Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference.
"We got to make a run here – try to get back up on top," Rockets Head Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Obviously, there's going to be two key factors. From there, keep James fresh. With Austin Rivers being an addition and Danuel House (Jr.), that'll keep minutes off guys and try to make some runs."
Houston led by as much as 40 points in the ball game and cruised to the win.
"That's what it's about; that's what it's about," Harden commented. "We have opportunities to finish games early, that's what we have to do. It felt great for (us), especially for guys who play heavy minutes to get some rest tonight. So tomorrow, we'll just watch film for the things we can get better at and go to Orlando."
Harden shot 8-of-16 from 3-point range tonight, extending his NBA record of consecutive games with 5 or more threes to 12 games. No other player has a streak longer than seven. Over the past 12 games, Harden is averaging 6.1 threes made per game on 40.9% shooting.
Houston hit 20 3-pointers on 38.5% shooting while holding Cleveland to 9 threes on 27.3% shooting. The Rockets have hit 20 or more threes seven times this season after doing so eight times in 2017-18 (NBA record 10 times in 2016-17). Houston has hit 236 more 3-pointers than its opponent through the first 41 games of this season, which is the highest differential in NBA history. Over the past 15 games, the Rockets are averaging 17.5 threes made per game on 38.3% shooting while holding the opposition to an average of 9.1 threes made per game on 30.4% shooting.
The Rockets have scored 140+ points five times since Mike D'Antoni became head coach in 2016-17 after doing so a total of four times the 25 seasons prior from 1991-92 through 2015-16.
The Rockets' next game is Sunday, January 13, in Orlando, against the Orlando Magic. Tip is set for 5 p.m.
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