You don’t have to be an elite defender to make James Harden shoot poorly from the field. Andrew Wiggins certainly made it difficult for the (probably) best shooting guard in the NBA, but it wasn’t enough for the Minnesota Timberwolves against the red hot Houston Rockets, carrying on with their winning ways, this time 113-101 on the road.
Despite shooting just 8-of-23 from the field which includes getting rejected one time for all the world to see by Wiggins, Harden still had a very influential game. He scored 23 points and added 10 assists, with the usual ‘every ball goes through him’ system working out very well. Harden is shooting just 38.7% from the field but isn’t getting the hard time Kobe Bryant is because his team is winning. He must be doing something right.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to Harden on this team, which isn’t always the case for the Lakers, or at least in the selfish mind of Kobe Bryant. Dwight Howard, who never really got along with Bryant during his one year in Los Angeles, seems to be doing better at the beginning of his second season in Houston. He finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks. He even hit a jumper, which isn’t something you see every day.
Trevor Ariza continues to look like the best free agency pickup this side of LeBron James with 19 points and 5 rebounds on 7-of-12 from the field. He might not be a versatile offensive player like the departing Chandler Parsons. However, Ariza’s offensive skills in a team that spreads the floor so well and doesn’t need too many players trying to do everything on their own seem to be an even better fit than Parsons, not to mention his better perimeter defense.
The Timberwolves? They are who we thought they’d be. A fun team to watch, even without Ricky Rubio playing. Zach LaVine scored 8 points and added 9 assists,but the Timberwolves couldn’t keep up with the Rockets in terms of scoring power. Corey Brewer led them with 18 points off the bench and Wiggins added 15. However, they needed a lot more from Nikola Pekovic, scoring just 11 points and mostly struggling with Howard on both ends of the floor.
The Rockets have won all of their seven games this season by double digits. They’re also the first team in NBA history to make at least 10 3-pointers through their first eight games this season. The most surprising number has to be their defense. Yes, despite the presence of James Harden on the team, the Rockets are allowing only 92.5 points per 100 possessions. Last season they finished giving up 103.1 points per 100 possessions. This season, so far, they’re leading the NBA in defensive efficiency.