EditorsNote: Update 1: Adds LeBron postgame quote
Chris Paul flirted with a triple-double and James Harden facilitated with ease as the Houston Rockets trounced the defenseless Cleveland Cavaliers 120-88 on Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Paul finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists, shooting 8-of-14 overall and 6-of-9 on 3-pointers. The Rockets overwhelmed Cleveland from the perimeter, shooting 19-for-51 on 3s in cruising to victory in the second game of their four-game road trip.
LeBron James had 11 points, nine rebounds and nine assists for the Cavs but missed 7 of 10 shots.
“I’m at a loss for words,” James said postgame, via Cleveland.com. “They should take us off of every nationally televised game for the rest of the season.”
Paul logged just 27 minutes yet produced a plus-47 plus-minus. Houston led by as many as 35 points despite missing a pair of key rotation players: starting forward Trevor Ariza (hamstring) and sixth man Eric Gordon (back). Gordon is expected to return on Tuesday at Brooklyn.
Harden added 16 points, six rebounds and nine assists, plus two steals. All five starters reached double figures in scoring for the Rockets, with Ryan Anderson adding 21 points on 5-of-9 3-point shooting. Clint Capela had 14 points, nine boards and two blocks while Gerald Green paired 17 points with three blocks off the bench, connecting on 4 of 10 3-pointers.
The Rockets improved to 23-1 with Harden, Paul and Capela in the starting lineup.
The Cavaliers entered play ranked 28th in defensive efficiency and lived down to their reputation. Cleveland had won 17 of its last 19 games at home, but the Rockets recorded at least 32 points in each of the opening three periods before turning to their reserves in the fourth.
The Cavaliers never led and fell into a double-digit hole before the midpoint of the first quarter. Their effort was reminiscent of their 148-124 home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder two weeks ago.
Isaiah Thomas and J.R. Smith paced Cleveland starters with 12 points apiece but shot a combined 9-for-25.
While Houston hit 10 of 22 3s in the first half, the Cavaliers made just one trey before Smith sank a pair late in the half to cut the deficit to 22 points. Highlights were few for Cleveland.
—Field Level Media