The Houston Rockets have the NBA’s best record at 20-4, putting them percentage points ahead the Celtics (22-5) and Warriors (21-6). James Harden is the NBA’s leading MVP candidate, and since returning to the lineup, Chris Paul has made an impressive and seamless transition into the Rockets’ rotation.
Houston is near the top of the league in most offensive categories, which comes as little surprise, but they’ve also managed to be a top 5 defense in the NBA through 24 games. It’s an impressive start and, as it continues, one that makes it impossible not to begin considering them as a legitimate contender to the Warriors in the West.
That was the goal of adding Paul to Harden, giving them someone that could take the burden off of their star and keep them both fresh for when a postseason series rolls around. There will be some that insist on waiting to see them do something in the playoffs before buying in, but the growing sentiment around the league is that the Rockets are here to stay near the very top of the Western Conference.
On Saturday, Houston played in one of the best regular season games of the year so far in Portland in a 124-117 win that saw them make a furious fourth quarter comeback to negate a 35-point performance from Damian Lillard (who hit 9 three-pointers). Harden led the way with 48 points, including some dazzling isolation play late.