The Rockets have ridden a simple plan to victory:
Play even better when Harden plays without Paul
Absolutely dominate when Paul plays without Harden
But, in a 122-116 loss to the Lakers tonight that snapped a 14-game win streak, Houston lost a key component of all-star-guard-all-the-time rotation.
Rockets broadcaster Craig Ackerman:
Paul missed 14 games earlier this season with a left-knee injury. It’s unclear whether this injury is to the same area of his leg.
Harden can carry the Rockets for a while if necessary, as he did earlier in the season. He scored 51 points tonight. (Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma scored 38.)
But Houston is a title contender because of the Harden-Paul pairing. We’ll learn more about Paul’s status, but the stakes are high.