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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 thump Warriors, 129-112
Posted: November 6, 2019 -- 11:56 p.m. CT
HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets may have taken longer than their fans (perhaps even their coaches) liked to put away what's left of the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night; but, the bottom line is the Rockets defeated the Warriors 129-112 and improved to 5-3 this season.
"There's a certain point where you turn it on and play good defense," said Mike D'Antoni, Rockets' Head Coach. "If we would have done that the whole game, we could have probably been in control earlier. We're working on it. We're just not in great shape right now. We will get there."
Houston led Golden State 30-29 after the first quarter. The Warriors (2-6 this season) shot 50.0% (12 for 24) from the floor in the opening the quarter.
The Rockets trailed 46-42 with 4:44 remaining in the second quarter. Then, James Harden erupted for 18 points to close out the half. Houston outscored Golden State 21-6 in the final 4:44 and led 63-52 at the half.
"We didn't get off to a good start," Harden commented. "But, we were gaining confidence and what not. Make or miss shots, we have to continue to tune up our defense, which we will."
The Warriors shot 28.0% (7 for 25) in the second quarter.
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Harden scored 9 points in the third quarter; and, Houston led 83-60 with 6:43 remaining in the third. But, the Warriors went on a 17-4 run to trim the Rockets' lead to 10 points (87-77) with 3:44 on the game clock.
Rockets' swingman Ben McLemore capped off the third quarter scoring with a three-point basket for a 98-83 Rockets' lead after three quarters.
The Warriors pulled within 12 points (98-86) with 10:58 remaining in the game; but, Danuel House Jr and P.J. Tucker each scored 9 points in the fourth quarter. Houston led by as much as 22 points in the fourth.
P.J. Tucker had season-highs of 22 points and 11 rebounds tonight.
"I feel like we made a little progress just based on how we played," Tucker remarked. "Our defense right now is predicated on that. If we come out and we play hard and we're aggressive then it'll show; and, if not, then we'll have games like we've had."
Danuel House Jr. had a season-high 17 points while shooting 5-of-6 from 3-point range.
"We're still working more on our defensive side," House Jr said. "We still want to make sure that were switching, boxing out, and rebounding. You know, doing the little things to be successful when it comes down to playoffs. We want to make sure that everything is in gear and intact."
The Rockets outshot the Warriors 49.5% to 39.6% which is the first time Houston has outshot its opponent this season. The Rockets were 28-5 when outshooting the opposition in 2018-19.
"Yeah, we did better in the second half playing at a good pace, defensively," Russell Westbrook said after the game.
The Rockets next game is Saturday, November 9, on the road, against the Chicago Bulls. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
Houston improves to 3-0 when holding its opponent below 45.0% shooting this season after going 22-9 when doing so in 2018-19.
James Harden has 292 points in 283 minutes of play this season. That's the highest point total through the first eight games of a season since Michael Jordan had 303 in 1988-89.
Before scoring 22 points tonight, P.J. Tucker scored a total of 20 points over the past four games after averaging 16.7 points per game the first three games of the season. The 22 points tie for the most Tucker has scored in the regular season or the playoffs as a Rocket.
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