James Harden

Going up against the Philadelphia 76ers is an excellent way to pick up an easy win these day, not to mention pad up your own stats. The Houston Rockets came away with a 104-93 win, led by James Harden and a bit of Trevor Ariza, while Dwight Howard didn’t really need to do anything special on offense.

The 76ers fell to 0-4, one of four NBA teams without a win this season. They’re still waiting for Michael Carter-Williams, which means there’s no real point guard on the floor at the moment for them. However, it wouldn’t be a whole lot better even with him playing. Sam Hinkie took this team apart and sold it for prospects and future bonds. It’s not his plan to win any games now. The closer it gets him to higher draft picks, the better.

The Rockets aren’t in the business of calculating odds of lottery balls and checking out the top tier draft picks. With James Harden and Dwight Howard on the team, their expectations are a lot higher. Despite looking like they’re weakening over the offseason, they haven’t really run into any problems so far this season, winning all of their games through the first week.

Harden didn’t shoot very well in a wild game, as always against the quite open and free flowing 76ers, making only 7-of-18 shots. He still scored 35 points, getting into the paint with ease, shooting 17-of-18 from the free throw line. He hit four 3-pointers, grabbed nine rebounds and also dished out five assists. He got a lot of help from Trevor Ariza, scoring 24 points to go with six rebounds and 7 assists, while Dwight Howard settled for only 11 points. He did finish with a double-double, grabbing 14 rebounds, 3 steals and 4 blocks.

Isaiah Canaan started at point guard next to Harden, which means being an off-the-ball guard who just watches Harden shoot. He had 13 points and six assists, while Patrick Beverley didn’t even play. The Rockets got only 15 points from their bench, but they really didn’t need anything more with their starting lineup scoring so easily, enjoying dominance under the boards as Howard grabbed seven offensive rebounds.

For the Sixers, the goals are completely different each game. Not to win, but to follow and chart individual progress of certain players. Who knows, maybe be surprised by those who are only here on as fillers. Nerlens Noel got a nice block to make the highlight films, scoring 10 points and also getting six steals. The talented Tony Wroten scored 20 points to go with 5 rebounds and 5 steals. The Sixers do generate a high tempo, but their defense is bad when they can’t steal the ball, and they can’t keep up offensively with most NBA teams.

The Rockets are part of the current foursome (Miami, Golden State and Memphis included) without a loss. Trevor Ariza has done just as well as Chandler Parsons would have done if not better. Dwight Howard looks good, and whoever partners with Harden in the backcourt is doing a fine job so far. It’s just one week, so everything right now doesn’t really mean much. But maybe, just maybe, Daryl Morey will prove that what looked terrible during the summer will turn out to be golden only a few months later.

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