James Harden dropped 35 in a loss, but not before Chris Paul had to leave injured, picking up a strained Hamstring. Paul is expected to miss 2-4 weeks nursing yet another hamstring injury, adding strain to a Houston team that is already in the process of overcoming a poor start to the season. The Rockets led by double digits midway into the second quarter, but were unable to beat a Miami team who sees their record go to 14-16.
In the only two NBA games that took place Thursday night in the NBA, both home teams took the Win. Unfortunately for Harden and his Rockets, they were in Miami, visiting a Heat team who has lacked consistent sources of scoring, as well as a solid team identity up to this point in the season. These problems were overcome against the Rockets, seeing 5 different Heat players contributing a point total in the double digits. Miami guard Josh Richardson dropped 22, tied for his best output throughout the month of December, and the Heat were able to overcome an early 12 point first quarter deficit, beating the Rockets by a score of 101-99.
James Harden continues to be the best player in the Western Conference, with no close second in sight. Even in defeat, Harden posted a monster stat line that reads 35 points and 12 assists. Harden is leading the league in scoring by 3 points a game, as well as coming in second in the steals category, and rounds out the top five in the assists department. With guard Chris Paul out for the foreseeable future with a bad hammy, look for Harden to get even more touches a game. Harden, along with role player Brandon Knight, will have to take advantage of the extra touches they will be responsible for in the absence of CP3. The loss to Miami and injury to CP3 came at an inconvenient time for Houston, who was rocking the second best current win streak in the league until Miami brought that to an end Thursday night. Houston is sitting one game above .500 at 16-15, and have a three game home stretch that sees them host the Spurs (Dec 22nd), Thunder (Dec 25th), and Celtics (Dec 27th).