NBA

Nets Rout Rockets in Harden’s Return

Mar 3, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets warms up prior to playing the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center on March 03, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Bob Levey-POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports
POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The new-look Houston Rockets put up a fight, but the Nets had a handle on the game most of the way. The Nets won 132 to 114. Kevin Durant was out with injury.

This game was Harden’s first return to Houston since his notorious exit a few months ago. Since then, he’s apologized for his actions.

Harden finished with a 29 point, 13 rebounds, and ten assist triple-double along with eight turnovers. At the start of the game, the Rockets’ aggressive blitzes on-ball forced some turnovers. However, the Nets were able to steady the ship.

The Rockets’ aggressive defense led to easy dump-offs to Bruce Brown in the short roll. From there, he was able to score or throw lobs to Deandre Jordan. Jordan was able to operate from the baseline and flash to the rim when there was an opening. Brown finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.

Kyrie Irving’s impeccable shot creation was on full display as well. He was able to split traps and get to the rim or toss lobs to Jordan. He ended up with 24 points, five boards, and six assists.

Another emerging player in the Nets’ rotation is Nicholas Claxton. He put up 16 points and eight rebounds. The Nets need another big to step up in their rotation as they lack size overall. Claxton could be that guy.

Houston Rockets Put Up a Fight

Mar 3, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; John Wall #1 of the Houston Rockets dives for a loose ball during the first quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Toyota Center on March 03, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Bob Levey-POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports
POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets are still missing Christian Wood and Eric Gordon, two critical offensive pieces. John Wall and Victor Oladipo were forced to carry a huge load tonight.

Wall finished with 36 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Oladipo struggled to find his rhythm early, but he ended with 33 points, seven boards, and five assists. Outside of the backcourt, the Rockets couldn’t find consistent offense.

The Rocket tried to junk up the game with aggressive blitzes and traps. That led to mini spurts that cut the lead at multiple points. However, the Nets punched back.

The Nets’ have employed a switch-heavy defense. What switching forces offenses to do is try to play in more isolation since their actions get blown up by the defense. The Rockets’ possessions mostly ended in Wall and Oladipo isolations. While they put up 30-plus points, they didn’t score efficiently enough to match the Nets’ offensive output.

That’s the trap the Nets force a team into. By forcing teams into isolation, teams end up in a race with the Nets’ isolation scoring. No teams in the NBA have the collection of offensive talent the Nets have to match them.

This game was another example of the Nets’ dominance, even without Kevin Durant.

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