NBA scores 2016: The Rockets are scorching since Patrick Beverley returned
James Harden and Russell Westbrook are both one-man shows. They’re traveling visual art performances, spectacular and ridiculous, while simultaneously defying the team nature of the sport they play and showing the importance of a few good players around them. On Wednesday, after Westbrook had one the duo’s first clash of the year, Harden won out with just enough help from his teammates.
While Westbrook notched his seventh straight triple-double — the first to do that since Michael Jordan 27 years ago — Harden’s rough evening of 21 points, nine rebounds, 12 assists and 6-of-23 shooting still prevailed. The team outside of Harden rallied for 44-percent shooting and nine threes, and Patrick Beverley was as much the reason for Westbrook’s eight turnovers and 17 missed shots as anyone else.
Beverley’s always annoyed Westbrook. (He’s always annoyed nearly everyone, to be fair.) He forced a charge on Westbrook underneath Westbrook’s own basket on one of the game’s first possession, and his defense on Westbrook on the game’s penultimate possession forced him into an airballed three.
Beverley missed the first 11 games of the Rockets’ season with left knee irritation, but since returning, the Rockets are scorching. They’ve won 10 of their last 12 games, including Friday’s win and a double-overtime victory against the Warriors about a week ago. He may not be a dominating force, but his added defense and capable offense (36 percent on three-pointers so far) has turned the Rockets into a wrecking ball.
The Rockets are still a bad defensive team, 18th best in the NBA this season and only a few decimal points better since Beverley returned. You can see Beverley clearly helps them guarding players like Westbrook, but the real benefit of his return has…