Posted on February 2, 2018, by Travis Pulver

What do you do for an encore after you have a night that sets an NBA record (first triple-double with 60 points) as well as franchise record (single-game scoring mark)? If you’re James Harden, you record a double-double while leading your team to a win over your in-state rival. That is of course, exactly what he did Thursday night.

Harden scored 28 and dished out 11 dimes to lead the Rockets to a 102-91 rare win over the Spurs in San Antonio.

Via @JabariJYoung

The Spurs have struggled on the road this season but have played well at home. Heading into Thursday night’s game against Houston, the Spurs had only lost four home games heading into Thursday night’s contest.

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But the Spurs didn’t stand a chance this time. Houston’s defense locked down on San Antonio from the onset allowing the Spurs to score just 14 points in the first quarter. The Spurs offense woke up some in the second quarter. But at the half, the Rockets held a 16-point lead, 54-38.

“It’s a great step,” Harden said after the game (ESPN). “All night defensively we were locked in. We just got stops. We knew at some point they were going to make a run, especially in that second half. We held our composure.”

After closing the gap to 12-points heading into the final quarter, San Antonio closed it a bit further and got within six with 9:58 to play. But then Chris Paul decided they were close enough and hit his next three shots to stretch the lead back out to 12.

“I was like, alright, we tripping,” Paul said after the game (ESPN). “Let me go ahead.”

Paul succeeded in stopping the attempted comeback. San Antonio ended up outscoring the Rockets in the final quarter. But only by a single point. Houston went on to win, 102-91.

“In the end, a couple of great players hit shots,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said after the game (ESPN). “I thought Chris was great in the midrange. He hit about three or four in a row, and of course, James hit a couple of 3s there back to back. That’s talent taking over.”

Harden led the Rockets with 28 points followed by Gerald Green who had 15 off the bench. Chris Paul ended the night with 10 points. Clint Capella tacked on another 14 points to go with 13 rebounds. Danny Green led the Spurs in scoring for the first time this season with 22 points.

The Aftermath

Houston has had San Antonio’s number this year. When they played earlier this season, the Rockets beat them with offense, 124-109. This time it was more because of their defense—something Houston is not exactly known for. They meet two more times this season (March 12 and April 1).

If the Spurs are going to have a chance to win either, they will need to get Kawhi Leonard back. But it remains to be seen if he’ll be back on the court by then.

San Antonio will try to get back on the right side of the scoreboard when the Utah Jazz come to town Saturday night. Houston will try to ensure February doesn’t get off to a good start for the Cavaliers in Cleveland (also Saturday night).

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