The Houston Rockets routed the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers 104-93 on Monday to improve to 4-0 in the fledgling NBA season, with their toughest test yet looming in Miami.
James Harden made just seven field goals but hit 17 of 18 free throws to finish with 35 points for the Rockets, adding nine rebounds and five assists for a Houston team off to their first 4-0 start since winning six straight to launch 1996-97.
Trevor Ariza added 24 points and Dwight Howard chipped in 11 with 14 rebounds and four blocks for the Rockets, who made seven three-pointers in the first quarter to take a 32-19 lead and used another barrage of long-range shots to put the game away in the fourth.
The winless 76ers fall to 0-4.
The Rockets face a tougher test on Tuesday when they visit the Heat, who are off to a 3-0 start despite the departure of superstar LeBron James for Cleveland.
On Thursday, the Rockets face another searching examination when they host defending champions San Antonio.
In Miami, where Chris Bosh, often overshadowed by James and Dwyane Wade in his first four seasons with the Heat, has emerged as a leader.
Against the Rockets, the Heat will try to emerge as the only unbeaten team left in the Eastern Conference.
The Memphis Grizzlies also improved to 4-0 on Monday – for the first time in franchise history – with a 93-81 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Spanish big man Marc Gasol led all five Grizzlies starters in double figures with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Gasol and Zach Randolph both contributed double-doubles, Randolph delivering 15 points and 11 rebounds while the two combined to provide a formidable interior defence.
In New York, Mikhail Prokhorov watched his Brooklyn Nets dismantle Oklahoma City 116-85 in their first home game of the season, and said he had no plans to give up control of the club.
There have been multiple reports that the Russian billionaire – who bought the then-New Jersey Nets for some $US200 million ($A216.4 million) in a sale finalised in 2010 – was entertaining offers from potential buyers.
“My position is that I will not give up control of the team,” Prokhorov said before Monday’s game.
There was no sign that any uncertainty over ownership was affecting Nets players, who pummelled the injury-depleted Thunder, missing stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Brook Lopez debuted for Brooklyn after recovering from a sprained foot with 18 points in just 24 minutes.
Deron Williams, after off-season surgery on both ankles, scored 17 points in 37 minutes and handed out nine assists for the Nets.