Har­rell’s en­ergy fu­el­ing Rock­ets

Hous­ton’s backup cen­ter soar­ing and scor­ing in Capela’s ab­sence

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By ASSOCIATED PRESS in Hous­ton

Ask any­one associated with the Hous­ton Rock­ets about Mon­trezl Har­rell, and in­evitably they’ ll talk about his en­ergy.

Now that Har­rell is start­ing, the Rock­ets are find­ing out just how much he can help the team.

James Har­den had 32 points and 12 as­sists in three quar­ters and Har­rell chipped in with 14 points to power Hous­ton to a 131-115 win over the Phoenix Suns on Mon­day night.

It was Har­rell’s third straight game with dou­bledigit scor­ing while fill­ing in at cen­ter for Clint Capela, who is out for at least a month with a small frac­ture on his left fibula.

Nene Hi­lario started the first game af­ter Capela was in­jured be­fore coach Mike D’An­toni de­cided to go with Har­rell.

“He’s play­ing great — just his en­ergy,” D’An­toni said. “His de­fense is re­ally good, we can switch a lot and we can do dif­fer­ent things. He cov­ers up for a lot of peo­ple, he takes charge. I think he’s been play­ing ter­rific.”

Har­rell said his mind­set didn’t change when he was moved into the start­ing lineup.

“Just play the game, that’s all I got to do,” said the sopho­more dy­namo. “Come in with a lot of en­ergy and try to bring that spark to my team ev­ery night. My team feeds off it great and I just try to keep it go­ing. I’m not do­ing any­thing spe­cial.”

It was Har­den’s 12 th 30-point game of the sea­son. He made 12 of 15 free throws, and had at least 30 points and 10 as­sists for the ninth time this sea­son.

“They are a great all-around of­fen­sive team,” Phoenix’s Eric Bled­soe said.

“James pretty much con­trols ev­ery­thing out there. There’s re­ally noth­ing we can do about it now.”

Hous­ton led by at least 20 points for most of the night and was up by 27 en­ter­ing the fourth quar­ter. Har­den didn’t play af­ter that, and D’An­toni had the rest of his starters on the bench by the mid­dle of the quar­ter.

Bled­soe led the Suns with 24 points and Bran­don Knight added 21 off the bench.

The Rock­ets led by 26 at half­time and opened the third quar­ter with a 12-4 spurt to ex­tend their ad­van­tage to 81-47. Patrick Bev­er­ley got things go­ing with a 3-pointer, and Har­den added a 3.

James pretty much con­trols ev­ery­thing out there. There’s re­ally noth­ing we can do about it now.” Eric Bled­soe,

Get­ting a break

Har­den hasn’t missed a game since the 2014-15 sea­son when he had to sit one out be­cause of a sus­pen­sion.

For a player who logs so many min­utes, a game like this one where he could take the fourth quar­ter off was a nice break on the front end of a back-to-back.

“It’s good,” he said. “I’ve had sev­eral of those this sea­son and I don’t re­mem­ber the last time I had so many. It feels good, guys are play­ing well. We’re con­fi­dent in each other and another test for us to­mor­row.”

Tip-ins

Rock­ets: Hous­ton has won 12 games this month, which is their most ever in De­cem­ber ... The Rock­ets had 69 points in the first half to give them at least 60 points be­fore half­time for the 17 th time this sea­son ... Rookie cen­ter Chi­nanu Onu­aku made his NBA de­but in the fourth quar­ter. He fin­ished with six points and three re­bounds ... Trevor Ariza tied a sea­son high with 10 re­bounds ... Bev­er­ley left the game in the fourth quar­ter with a bruised left thigh, and D’An­toni said he might have to sit out Tues­day.

Suns: Bled­soe was handed a tech­ni­cal foul in the third quar­ter ... Devin Booker fouled out with 7.9 sec­onds left in the same quar­ter. He fin­ished with 16 points ... Dra­gan Ben­der had 11 points.

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