James Harden and the Rockets are out to send a message on a National stage on Christmas: we're back. While it's a little premature to conclude Houston is back to their 2017-18 form, a critical close win over Oklahoma City can't hurt. James Harden took on a leadership role in the absence of Chris Paul, dropping 41 points and 7 assists, including this late floater to put the game on ice.
James Harden with the clutch floater past Paul George pic.twitter.com/y228xgD0Lh— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) December 25, 2018
Paul George typically has quick feet but Harden made him sink in quicksand, rushing past the 6-9 defender and scoring on an easy floater in the lane.
The Rockets have now won two games in a row and suddenly move into a tie for the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. While that doesn't sound like much, considering how they started the season this is a significant accomplishment.
One win in a series of 82 games rarely has a tremendous impact, but Houston is slowly gathering momentum in anticipation of a launch.
Christmas comeback!— ESPN (@espn) December 25, 2018
The Rockets roar back against the Thunder behind 41 points from James Harden. pic.twitter.com/wEiN6We2ZH
The lone detractor is that Harden's 41 points came on 35 shots, but given the current state of the team and overall lack of playmakers, we shouldn't expect anything different with Paul out of the lineup.
Houston is rolling, winning seven out of their last ten games.