The Rockets were ending their 5 game road trip in the hardest place to win in the NBA, Oklahoma City. As if it wasn’t hard enough to go up against the best in the West, Houston was also without Kyle Lowry (out 2-4 weeks with lower tract infection) and Kevin Martin (day-to-day with strained right shoulder). Yet, somehow someway the Rockets put together their best effort this season, and through a well-balanced offensive attack, pulled out a 104-103 win in what was an absolute thriller.
The Rockets actually led most of the game, but once it came to the 4th quarter, their inability to close out games seemed like it would doom them once again. The Thunder went on a 23-7 to take an 11-point 102-91 lead with just 2:29 left to play. OKC had all the momentum and the game appeared to be over. However, unlike all other games this season, the Rockets came to play in clutch time. Houston stormed back, and with the score at 102-98, Goran Dragic fouled Russell Westbrook on a reach-in and tripped him up. Westbrook got up and charged after Dragic and that earned him a technical foul at a crucial time. Courtney Lee knocked down the technical free throw, and Westbrook hit 1 of his 2 free throws on the other end. After a defensive stop, Courtney Lee got his defender in the air with a nice pump fake along the baseline and got himself an easy layup. On the next Thunder possession, Westbrook had the ball stolen from him by Lee, who came down and knocked down a baseline 3 which gave the Rockets a 104-103 lead with 15.1 seconds to play. With one last chance, OKC went to (who else) Kevin Durant whose shot rimmed in and out. Serge Ibaka grabbed the offensive board however and had an easy layup to win it at the buzzer, but Patrick Patterson played the role of hero and came up with a game saving block, and the Rockets came out of OKC with a thrilling victory!
The Stats: Courtney Lee, filling in for the injured Kevin Martin, had 21 points on 8-12 shooting, including 4-7 from deep. 15 of his 21 came in the final period, and he also scored the last 6 Rockets points. Goran Dragic has been playing very well in the absence of Kyle Lowry and had himself another decent game with 12 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. Chandler Parsons had himself a career game, scoring a career high 21 points (19 in the first half) and also added 7 rebounds and 6 assists. 6 of the 8 Rockets players that played scored in double figures: The three I just mentioned, Luis Scola (18), Patrick Patterson (12), and Chase Budinger (10). Samuel Dalembert added 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Even Johnny Flynn got in on the action with 2 points and 3 assists in 10 minutes. I know, that’s just absolute Flynnsanity.
This was a huge win for a Rockets team that had lost 6 of their last 7 games. After being 21-14 at the All Star break, the Rockets are now 23-20, good for 8th in the West. Surprisingly, despite their poor second half play, Houston is only 2 games out of the 4-spot and home court in the first round. The Rockets will look to win 2 in a row tomorrow night as they face the Charlotte Bobcats at home.
Trade Deadline: With the trade deadline quickly approaching on Thursday, expect the Rockets to be active, and trying to make a deal which will help them in their playoff push. In my opinion, everybody on the roster can potentially be dealt except for Kyle Lowry and Courtney Lee. With GM Daryl Morey’s endless pursuit and many failed attempts of obtaining a superstar though, who knows what’s in store. Houston has been named to be a team willing to rent Dwight Howard for the remainder of the season, and as long as the deal doesn’t include giving up Lowry or Lee, the Rockets should make a serious push to make this happen. The Rockets are also rumored to be aggressively pursuing big man Pau Gasol, but I’m not sure how much this will help, especially if we have to give up Martin AND Scola. Scola and Gasol are basically the same stats wise, but Gasol is just more length and more of a defensive presence. The Rockets were also in talks to acquire center Andrew Bogut, but Bogut, along with teammate Stephen Jackson, was traded to Golden State for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh, and Kwame Brown.
About the Author
Written by Mohsin Ghesani
Huge sports fan! More specifically, huge HOUSTON sports fan. Love the Rockets and Texans!