After storming out of the gate to a 5-1 start to the season (including a victory over the Warriors), the Houston Rockets came into Madison Square Garden on a two-game losing streak. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the formally hapless New York Knicks lost the first three games of their season before reeling off three wins in a row. It was either going to be more of the same for these two teams tonight, or something was going to have to give.

The Knicks came out hot, behind nine points from Kristaps Porzingis, racing out to a three-point first quarter lead.

But Houston blitzed New York in the second frame, opening the quarter on a 16-3 run. The Rockets took a 12-point lead into halftime and extended that number to 26 in the third quarter before finishing the Knicks off by 22.

Rockets’ Game MVP

James Harden is an elite player and had a good game by his standards, but it wasn’t his 31 points or nine assists that stood out. It was the fact that Harden attempted 17 three-point shots! The Rockets are known for shooting from distance, but Harden was letting them fly tonight. He connected on just six and ended up 9-23 from the field.

Rest of Rockets’ starters

It was a total team effort by the Rockets with all five starters scoring in double figures. Ryan Anderson helped get Houston off to its strong start with 16 first-half points; he finished with 21.

Chris Paul is still out with an injury, so Eric Gordon has been starting in his place. Last year’s Sixth Man of the Year has gotten off to a torrid start to the season, averaging 24.9 ppg coming into tonight. He scored 17 points against the Knicks on 6-13 shooting. Trevor Ariza had 16 points and hauled in eight rebounds, while Clint Cappella chipped in 12 points and 13 boards.

Rockets’ bench

Veterans PJ Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute both played well off the bench, contributing valuable minutes to Houston's victory. Both Tucker and Mbah a Moute were signed this past off-season because of their defensive mindset and ability to guard multiple positions, but with the way the Rockets' offense was humming vs.

the Knicks, that sort of defense wasn't required tonight. Mbah a Moute finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, while Tucker had three points.

Final thoughts

With a 6-3 record, there is a lot to like about Houston's start to the season, but the elephant in the locker room is Chris Paul. The Rockets were supposed to be using these early game to develop chemistry and incorporate Paul into this high-octane offense, but with the way Eric Gordon has started the year, it'll be interesting to see how all of this plays out. Paul is in the final year of his contract, and if he can't keep pace, the Rockets may look to move him before the trade deadline. If so, there's a team in Ohio with a lot of expectations that's off to a terrible start.