Houston Rockets: 3 takeaways from Christmas win over Thunder

Photo by Jeff Haynes/Getty Images
Photo by Jeff Haynes/Getty Images /
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Photo by Bill Baptist/Getty Images
Photo by Bill Baptist/Getty Images /

In a game where nearly every possession counted down the stretch, a showdown between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets proved to be one of the most entertaining contests for the second straight year on Christmas Day. Here are the three takeaways from Clutch City’s most recent outing.

On an afternoon where the last two NBA MVPs collided on center stage, Houston Rockets guard James Harden demonstrated why most of his peers truly regard him as arguably one of the best players in basketball. The league’s leading scorer strolled into duty with a luminous Grinch-styled suit before snatching away the festive glee of his former team in front of a national audience.

Harden — who has scored 30 points or more over seven consecutive outings — poured in 41 points alongside Clint Capela‘s season-high 23 rebounds, to lead the Rockets to a 113-109 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Toyota Center.

"“I’m glad I don’t have to guard him anymore,” Rockets guard Austin Rivers told The Athletic‘s Alykhan Bijani when asked about Harden’s performance on Christmas Day. “Now I just get to smile. He did a couple of things tonight man [where] I was just like goodness gracious. “He’s the best offensive player in the NBA with the ball in his hands.”"

Houston, which stood near the bottom of the Western Conference standings in early December, has won seven out of its last eight contests to move to three games above .500 for the first time this season.

Paul George led the way for Oklahoma City with 28 points and 14 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook finished with 21 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in a losing effort.

Here are the three major takeaways from Clutch City’s Christmas Day outing.