Rockets run win streak to six with rout of Pacers
INDIANAPOLIS — James Harden had been scoring at a blistering pace for the Houston Rockets.
On Sunday night, he showed off his passing skills as well.
Harden, averaging 37.8 points in the previous five games, scored 26 points and had a season-high 15 assists in Houston’s 118-95 romp over the Indiana Pacers.
“He’s special player,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said of the Rockets star guard’s ability to score and pass. “If you switch, he takes advantage of the switch and the matchup.
“We did pretty much everything we could do except stop him. We switched some. We tried to drop our bigs. He had 11 assists in the first half, so he was really just picking us apart in that action.”
Harden hit 9 of 21 shots from the field and all five free throws.
“I’m just trying to be aggressive, be aggressive and good things happen whether it’s for you or for your teammates,” Harden said.
It was the sixth consecutive victory for Houston (11-3), which led throughout. The Rockets, who have an NBA-best road record of 7-1, posted their largest road victory of the season. It was especially impressive considering they had beaten visiting Memphis on Saturday night.
“It’s a veteran team,” Houston guard Eric Gordon said of the road success. “We don’t make a ton of mistakes. We play a fast-paced game and as long as we don’t beat ourselves, I take our chances with anybody.”
Gordon chipped in with 21 points, and center Clint Capela contributed 20 points and a team-high 17 rebounds
Guard Victor Oladipo led the Pacers (6-8) with 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field.
Indiana forward Domantas Sabonis chipped in with 17 points, hitting 7 of 10 shots from the floor.
Lance Stephenson contributed a team-high 10 rebounds and eight points off the bench for the Pacers. Myles Turner had 13 points and eight rebounds for Indiana.
Harden scored 12 points in the third quarter as the Rockets expanded a 63-51 halftime lead to 87-71 after three.
The Rockets sank 43 of 90 shots from the field for 47.8 percent. The Pacers were 37 of 83 from the floor for 44.6 percent.
“It was a professional win, they came in and they took care of business right from the get-go,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “It looked like we had enough energy obviously, and we played well.”
Houston sank 17 3-pointers, nine more than Indiana.
“It’s tough. We’re making twos, they’re trading it with threes,” Oladipo said. “They do a great job of spreading the floor offense, making it tough for us to do things offensively.”
Gordon scored 15 points to help lift Houston to a 12-point halftime edge. Harden contributed 14 points and 11 rebounds in the first half.
Indiana sank 21 of 42 shots from the floor in the first half. Houston was slightly better, making 24 of 47 for 51.1 percent.
The Rockets, who jumped to leads of 13-2 and 18-4, hit 14 of 24 shots from the field to take a 35-18 lead after one quarter.
“It shows the character of our team to get out to good starts and try to control the game early on,” Gordon said. “That’s what we’ve been doing.”
That fast start was the focus, Harden said.
“Lately, we’ve gotten off to slow starts these last few games,” Harden said. “We’re preaching it, getting off to better starts and not trying to fight our way bad into games.”
NOTES: Rockets G Eric Gordon, from North Central High School in Indianapolis and a former Indiana University player, had scored 20-plus points in five consecutive games and in 11 of 13 overall this season. Gordon missed one game because of illness. ... Rockets G James Harden set the franchise record of starting the season with 20 or more points in the first 14 games. He had shared the record with Elvin Hayes (1969-70) of most consecutive 20-point games to start the season. ... Pacers F Thaddeus Young had scored in double figures in nine consecutive games but was held scoreless on 0-of-7 shooting from the floor. ... Pacers G Victor Oladipo has scored 20 or more points in 10 of 14 games this season. Oladipo has led Indiana in scoring 10 times.