Paul’s return sparks Rockets to 90-point half

PHOENIX — The “bumps” coach Mike D’Antoni said he expected while incorporating Chris Paul into his offense weren’t evident in the Houston Rockets‘ record-setting 142-116 rout of the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

Paul, the nine-time All-Star point guard who pushed for a trade from the LA Clippers to Rockets during the offseason, was spectacular in his return after missing almost a month because of a bruised left knee. He registered a double-double in 21 minutes, scoring 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting and dishing out 10 assists with only one turnover.

Harden, the perennial All-Star guard with whom Paul opted to form a partnership, padded his NBA scoring lead with 48 points. Harden, who also had seven assists, was 12-of-22 from the floor, 6-of-11 from 3-point range and 18-of-18 from the free throw line.

Houston had the highest-scoring first quarter in franchise history with 45 points, 41 of which were generated by Paul and Harden, who combined for 18 points and eight assists in the frame. The Rockets scored 45 again in the second quarter — 23 by Harden, all while Paul watched from the bench — to set a franchise record for points in a half with 90.

Houston became just the third team in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55) to score at least 90 points in the first half, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

The Rockets scored 33 points in the 13 minutes that Paul and Harden played together. Paul had eight points on 3-of-5 shooting and four assists when he shared the floor with Harden, who had 13 points on 3-of-7 shooting and one assists in those minutes.

“Knowing there’s going to be bumps in these next 10 days, let’s get them ironed out,” D’Antoni said before the game. “Get the team we want to go into battle with and in the playoffs with if we make it. But that’s to come. We know that.”

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