Jeremy Lin and James Harden—the new backcourt for the now quite relevant Houston Rockets—had a magical opening to their season. They began with two dominating road wins in which they were effective on both offense and defense. In their home opener, an overtime loss to the Portland Trailblazers‚ they continued to play great basketball.
Wednesday night the two guards were finally slowed to a halt by Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala and the rest of the Denver Nuggets. The Rockets lost a second-straight home game—93-87—at the hands of the Nuggets.
Lawson and Iguodala were key contributors on defense, each garnering three steals. Small forward Kenneth Faried also had a big impact with 16 points and 16 rebounds.
"I just felt the whole game that Kenneth had the spirit that he was going to win this game tonight. He was pretty incredible," said Nuggets head coach George Karl (via ESPN).
Harden—who had been getting to the basketball at will for three games—was unable to do so in the game. He shot only 5-of-15 and was forced to take a lot of long shots. He missed all five of his three-point attempts. The lack of penetration also resulted in less easy assists. He got only two assists in the game.
What will we see more of this year?
The other half of the tandem—point guard Jeremy Lin—was similarly hindered by the great Denver defense. Lin had only six assists and six points on 2-of-9 shooting. Like Harden, Lin missed all of his three-point attempts.
On the other hand, the two young guards both continued to play tough defense. They contributed 11 steals between them. The Rockets as a team recorded 15 steals and only 18 turnovers. Inability to score was their one big problem in the game.
The Rockets shot 37 percent from the field and 24 percent from three-point range. A lot of possessions were lost to missed three-pointers. The Rockets were 8-of-33 from deep, while the Nuggets were a much more efficient 7-of-18.
After a day off, Houston will travel to Memphis to play the Grizzlies. They are undefeated so far on the road and will be looking to keep it that way.