Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning said the New York Giants season philosophy was “Make it tough, but make it possible.” The Rockets seemed to take that to heart and played with that philosophy in their last two victories. After opening up a comfortable double digit lead both Wednesday in Portland and last night in Phoenix, the Rockets manage to squander it away and let the opposing team right back into the ball game. They made it tough. However, in both games, the Rockets bench played the role of hero and closer, playing the majority of the 4th quarters and coming out with back to back road victories to make it 3 wins in a row now. They made it possible.
Wednesday night at the Rose Garden, the Rockets held a 19-point lead in the 3rd quarter, but Portland picked up their defensive intensity and went to a full court press, which ultimately led to 23 Rockets turnovers. Portland managed to tie the game, but that was it. The Rockets bench, which has been playing unbelievable as of late, caught fire. Chase Budinger and Courtney Lee hit some key 3’s down the stretch to put it away.
It was almost the same story in Phoenix last night where the Rockets held a 10 point lead at halftime, but Phoenix started the 3rd quarter on a 26-9 run (during which the starting 5 looked absolutely horrible) which quickly put the Rockets down by 7. Enter the bench, again. Dragic, Lee, Budinger, Patterson, and yes, even Jordan Hill has been playing well lately (coincidentally ever since his option for next year was not picked up by the Rockets). These guys came in and played their game. Scrappy defense, good ball movement, big shots. There seemed to be a nice flow to the bench group, and even when McHale sprinkled in Lowry, Scola, and Parsons, the flow continued. Lowry in fact put the game away with a game changing steal (with his injured arm) that led to a lay up with 1:40 left in the 4th quarter that put the Rox up 5.
Earlier in the season, the Rockets bench was giving away leads the starters had gained, and seemed to have no chemistry. Now, it’s the opposite. For the second game in a row, the Rockets second unit won the game. They scored a season high 66 points Wednesday, and scored 57 last night. The second unit has built a confidence in themselves that right now, can be matched by no other:
“We look at each other as if we’re going to battle together. We’ve got our helmets on and we feel like our second unit can compete with anybody out there. These past two games I think we showed that.”
““We are sharing the ball, we make stops and it’s just a great feeling playing with all these guys. “We are like family on the court battling for each other and it feels great. I think we have the same chemistry when I was with the Suns when we made the conference finals.”
Like I’ve said before, this season may just be the season for the Rockets thrive. With the attitude of this team, the sky is the limit. Here’s to hoping the starters can turn it around, and the bench can keep it up. The Rockets will look to continue their win streak Sunday against Golden State. Houston has won 14 of its last 19 games.
By the way, don’t look now, but the Houston Rockets, without a superstar, are 4th in the Western Conference.
Side note: Kevin Martin has been in a terrible shooting slump lately. He has scored a combined 16 points in the last 4 games on 5-25 shooting, including 0-9 from deep. He has also attempted only 7 free throws during that span, all in one game. Martin led the league last year in Free Throws Attempted per game. His name recently came up in a RealGM.com report, which stated the Rockets continued interest in Lakers big man Pau Gasol. The report stated the Rockets would be willing to give up Martin and Scola, but the Lakers would want a point guard in return for Gasol and Houston is not willing to part ways with All-Star snub, Kyle Lowry.
About the Author
Written by Mohsin Ghesani
Huge sports fan! More specifically, huge HOUSTON sports fan. Love the Rockets and Texans!