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Back to .500, push for the Playoffs!

Posted By Munaf Manji On Mar 6 2011 @ 3:19 pm In Houston Rockets | No Comments

Well lets just start with a recap of our last blog and the two points I made the Rockets needed to do:

1. More effort of the defensive end–Check

2. Get back to .500 record–Check

The Rockets are 6-1 since the All-Star break with quality wins over New Orleans and Portland, two teams which are infront of the Rockets in the standings.  The area which was more impressive about these two wins was the defensive effort the Rockets put up against the Hornets and Trailblazers. Yes, the Rockets gave up 55 first half points to the Hornets but held them to only 34 points in the 2nd half, in which they trailed by 15 points at the half and trailed as much as 16. Rockets out scored the Hornets 51-34 in the 2nd half to pull out the victory. Kevin Martin had a great game for the Rockets finishing up with 33 points on 8-15 shooting and  4-8 from 3 point range and 13-13 from the charity strike.

The game against the Trailblazers, Rockets played with lots of energy from the tip.  This was another game that the Rockets had to have and they knew it.  Kevin Martin said that this was probably the most important road trip as far as the playoff push. The defensive effort continued for the Rockets as they held Portland to 42 first half points.  The two game changing times in the game was the 2nd quarter for the Rockets where they outscored Portland 23-16 to push the half time lead to 11. The other game changer was the start of the 3rd quarter where the Rockets went on a 8-2 run to push the lead to 17. At that point the Rockets were on cruise control. The Rockets did a great job of holding the lead.  Portland got it down to 11 points with back to back 3 point shots by Wallace where Adelman immediately called a time out.

I thought this was crucial moment in the game because either the Rockets would have to close quarter with double digit lead or Portland would turn this into a ball game by getting it down to single digits. But the Rockets held their own and pushed the lead back up t0 15 and the end of 3, and eventually winning the game convincingly by 16.  Scola responded with a great game after a horrible shooting night in New Orleans going 3-13, but coming back against Portland with 21 points on 10-11 shooting in Portland.

The dead legs caught up with the Rockets in LA against the Blake show losing on the final shot of the game 106-103. Eric Gordon was back for the Clippers that night and played a great game for the Clippers. The Rockets were in a tough spot playing their 4th game in 5 nights. However the Rockets fought hard and played all the way to the final second to only lose on a final shot by Budinger that would have forced overtime. The interior of Griffin, Jordan, and Kaman proved too much for the Rockets. Those 3 combined for 49 points and 39 rebounds!

Rockets came home last night against the Pacers and put this game away early. Up 29-18 at the end of the first quarter and leading by 16 points at the half. Again the Rockets came out in the 3rd quarter and pushed the lead to as much as 28 points. The Rockets attacked the basket very aggressively last night to get easy baskets. The only weakness I thought the Rockets had last night was boxing out on rebounds, Pacers got 19 offensive rebounds. But none the less the Rockets had 6 players in double figures.  The 2nd half defense was again amazing for the Rockets giving up only 46 points. With the win last night Rockets climbed back to .500 at 32-32.

The last couple of games i’ve noticed is the play of Chase Budinger. He has not been shooting the 3 ball well but he plays amazingly off the basketball, moving around screens and attacking the basket. He did this very well against the Trailblazers and last night against the Pacers. Chase has been very effective getting easy baskets at the rim and stepping into the lane and inside the 3 point line to knock down jump shots. Courtney Lee off the bench for the Rockets has been playing well also shooting 7-12 from 3 point range in the past 4 games and getting in double digits 4 out of the last 5 games.

So the next 4 games are again going to be very important for the playoff push. Two big games are against the Suns, one at their place and one at Toyota Center. I think the Rockets have to win both of these games to move up in the standings and gain ground on the team ahead of them one in which is the Phoenix Suns. But first the Rockets have a to take care of business against the Sacramento Kings Monday night.

Couple of team notes:

Rockets waived Jared Jeffries to signed with the Knicks

Kevin Martin earned Player of the week honors for the Western Conference for the week of Feb 21-27 averaging 27.3 points, shooting .517 from the field, and .476 from 3 point range.

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