Posted on March 9, 2019, by Travis Pulver

When you watch them now, it almost seems hard to believe that the Houston Rockets looked like they were destined for a lottery pick early on this season. But they were able to turn it around and get the team back into position to be a contender.

They certainly looked like the part Friday night as they blew out the Philadelphia 76ers, 107-91, in front of a very happy home crowd.

Via @SMDRSport

“I think it’s very obvious with Clint, Chris and James playing together and they’re all healthy and in rhythm we’re pretty hard to beat,” Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said after the game (ESPN).

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Houston’s ‘Big Three’ turned in a solid performance Friday night to lead the Rockets to their 40th win of the season. Hardin led the way with 31 points, ten rebounds, and seven assists followed by Clint Capella with 18 points and nine rebounds.

Chris Paul’s contribution was more on the defensive end, but he did have four points, three rebounds eight assists, and three steals.

Last season, the Rockets were practically unbeatable with the trio on the court going 42-3. However, this year, each has had injury issues and the team has gone 21-9 when they are together.

The Rockets didn’t waste any time setting the tone for the game by getting out to a 37-21 lead by the end of the first quarter. Houston led by as much as 21 during the second quarter, but the 76ers were able to narrow the gap to 15 going into halftime, 59-44.

Philadelphia got within 12 points early in the third, but Houston controlled the quarter once again and led by 22 heading into the fourth. While the 76ers did narrow the gap a little in the final quarter, they never really threatened to take control of the game.

“They did an excellent job at defending us,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said after the game (ESPN). “I just think that first-period sort of set the table and we found it difficult to respond after that.”        

The 76ers struggled throughout the night on both ends of the court. They shot a dismal 36.8 percent from the floor and hit just three of 26 three-point attempts. But with Joel Embiid out again, they were without one of their primary scoring threats and had no one to defend Clint Capella.

Tobias Harris led the way for the 76ers with 22 points followed by Jimmy Butler with 19 and Ben Simmons with 15.

The loss makes it two in a row and three in their last four for the 76ers. Also, they are now a game behind the Indiana Pacers for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. They will have a chance to get that game when they host the Pacers Sunday afternoon.

For the Rockets, it is their seventh win in a row. With the win and the Oklahoma City Thunder losing to the Clippers Friday night, they are the No. 3 seed in the West. But they have just a half-game advantage on the Thunder.

Houston will try to keep the good times rolling when they head to Dallas to take on the Mavericks Sunday night.           

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