The Rockets Report

Another week, another 4 wins as Rockets up win streak to 13

Chris Paul and James Harden are wrecking shop on the NBA right now. Houston Rockets/Facebook

Sometimes it’s great to be wrong. An example of that is when you end your last article trying to be as objective as possible, predict the Rockets’ winning streak will end, and they mow through a four-game work week undefeated. Those are the moments when I’m happy to admit I was mistaken.

Led by the consensus leading MVP candidate James Harden, the Rockets have now ripped off 13 straight wins while maintaining the best record in the league. If they’re able to survive Monday’s test against the Jazz, expect the streak to continue through Christmas.

Game 25: Rockets vs New Orleans Pelicans (W, 130-123)

With Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis out with an injury, it looked as though the Rockets would cruise to their 10th straight victory. That was nowhere near the case, as DeMarcus Cousins and company fired out of the gate and matched the Rockets point for point. Cousins set the tone early with a stop and pop 3-pointer early in the first.

“None of this makes any sense,” My friend explained.

I agreed.

E’Twaun Moore scored 36, Jrue Holiday added 37, and Rajon Rondo added a vintage triple-double in what seemed to be a streak-ending Pelicans victory. Harden would have none of that, scoring 12 straight late in the fourth quarter to take the lead and seal the victory. Clint Capela scored a career high 28 points on 13 of 14 shooting. Harden would finish one assist shy of his career high with 17, to go along with 26 points and 6 steals. Eric Gordon was 5-6 from three point range, adding 27 points off the bench.

Game 26: Rockets vs Charlotte Hornets (W, 108-96)

Dwight Howard returned to the Toyota Center for the first time this season and hung 26 points and 18 rebounds on the Rockets, but a 25-0 run by Houston in the first half proved to be too much for the Hornets to recover from. In a scary moment early on, Luc Richard Mbah Moute crashed hard to the ground and left in the first half with a dislocated shoulder. Chris Paul led the Rockets with 31 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds. Clint Capela added 11 rebounds and 4 blocks. Harden finished with 21 points.

Game 27: Rockets vs San Antonio Spurs (W, 124-109)

The then 19-10 Spurs headed to Houston to take on the Rockets for the first time this season since embarrassing Harden and company in the second round of last season’s playoffs. As part of an ESPN nationally televised double-header highlighted by the return from injury of Kawhi Leonard for the Spurs, the matchup looked to be one of the toughest tests the Rockets had faced all season. This, however, was not the case at all.

The Spurs hung on throughout most of the first quarter with their trademark tenacity on defense, but it was Paul who would bust the game open in the second and never look back. The Rockets lead by 17 at the half on the way to a blowout victory that was never in jeopardy from then on. Paul would finish 5-9 from 3-point range with 28 points, 8 assists and 7 steals. Harden had 28 points, 6 assists and 7 rebounds.

Game 28: Rockets vs Milwaukee Bucks (W, 115-111)

After playing four games in five days the Rockets tipped off against the Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks as the second part of back-to-back games. The Rockets looked noticeably gassed, and with Capela sitting due to a heel bruise, Antetokounmpo was free to do his damage in the paint with little resistance.

Yet, even as tired and injury-riddled as they were, the Rockets would prove once again to be a hard out. The Rockets would play small for most of the game, with Ryan Anderson playing center and P.J. Tucker starting at power forward. In spite of 16 lead changes, the Rockets would finally pull away just enough early in the fourth to secure a grinder of a game. Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 28 points, 5 assists, 9 rebounds and 4 steals. Harden paced the Rockets with 31 points, 5 assists, and 6 rebounds. Paul added 25 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. Six of the eight Rockets that checked into the game scored in double figures. Anderson was shut out for the first time this season.


  • Saturday's win against the Bucks stretched their winning streak to 13 games, which is tied for third best in Rockets history. Their longest streak was in 2007-2008 when they went on an improbable 22-game winning streak, which is the fourth best in NBA history.

  • According to’s MVP tracker, James Harden is currently number one with a 66.2% probability of winning. The Rockets are 3-0 versus the next 4 candidate’s teams (LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Kevin Durant). Clint Capela currently ranks 7th on the list.

  • Speaking of streaks and Harden, The beard is currently has a streak of his own going. In the past 29 games dating back to last season, Harden has failed to score less than 20 points in a game. That streak is tied with Moses Malone for the best in Rockets history.

Looking Ahead:

The Rockets are looking at a very soft part of their schedule with home games against the Jazz and Lakers, followed by a friday away game against the Clippers. These are all sub .500 teams, sporting a combined record of 35-50. The Utah Jazz had been showing signs of life until Rudy Gobert went down yet again, this time with a PCL injury. The last time the Jazz played in the Toyota Center, Harden scored or assisted on 91 total points, which is the third highest such output in NBA history. In the first matchup against the Lakers, the Rockets held Lonzo Ball to 2 points, 1 assist, and 2 rebounds, winning by 23. The Clippers are 11-17, going 3-6 in their last 9 contests. Friday will be their first matchup this season with the Rockets.

Until the Gobert injury, I assumed that the toughest test would be this Monday against the Jazz. As I stated above, it looks very likely that they’ll carry their winning streak into their Christmas day matchup against the Thunder.


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These next six games will be very telling. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

Houston has six games left in the 2022 regular season, two three-game series in which they need just one more win, or a Yankees loss, to secure the top seed for the AL side of the postseason bracket. They've accomplished what they set out to do over the 162-game drudge that is the regular season, so you're likely to see them use the opportunity to get some players off their feet in the remaining games.

Even so, having one of the best teams means that while putting out a lineup with some starters missing, they can still beat most teams on any given day. So then, what could that mean for the teams still vying for postseason spots or positioning in the remaining games?

Affecting the NL playoffs

It's a relatively sure bet that if they haven't locked up that top seed by the time they enter the final three games, they will before that last series is over. That means that when the Phillies come to Minute Maid Park to close out the season next week, Philadelphia will have much higher stakes in those games than Houston.

Under the expanded playoff format starting this season, the two best teams in each league receive a bye, while the remaining four teams square off in a Wild Card series, with all those games taking place at the better seed's stadium. That means teams will be very motivated to secure their best Wild Card positioning.

As of now, the Phillies hold just a half-game lead over the Brewers for the third and final Wild Card spot for the National League. Things could change this weekend, but whether they still lead or have fallen back and have ground to makeup, the games will matter to them against the Astros.

They also sit 2.5 games behind the Padres, meaning that Philadelphia could potentially be looking at a chance to jump into the second Wild Card spot. However, it's questionable if that's an envious position or not. With the juggernaut battle between the Mets and Braves coming down to the wire, with one team winning the NL East and a first-round bye and the other starting with home-field advantage in a Wild Card series, whoever gets the second Wild Card spot is going to be heading to face a really tough, and potentially angry, team on the road.

It will make things interesting for the Phillies when they face the Astros. They could be playing for their playoff lives or jockeying for position. Either way, the games will be meaningful.

Affecting the AL playoffs

There's a similar scenario at play for the American League side of things with the Astros' three-game series against the Rays this weekend. Just like the Phillies, the Rays enter the weekend holding on to the third and final spot in the AL Wild Card race.

Tampa Bay is only 0.5 games back of the Mariners for the second spot and two games back of the Blue Jays for the first Wild Card spot. Farther behind, the Orioles still have a chance for something crazy to happen, sitting five games behind.

So based on the result of their series with the Astros and how the other teams fare this weekend and in the final stretch of games, the Rays have a range of outcomes that could cause havoc in the AL bracket. They could end up taking the top Wild Card spot and hosting a series, traveling to face the Blue Jays, Mariners, or Guardians, or, less likely, missing the playoffs altogether.

This variance in positioning could have ramifications for the Astros directly in the ALDS round as well. The Astros are likely to be favored regardless of the three potential teams they face; however, some matchups would make things easier.

Houston went 2-4 against the Blue Jays this year and are currently up 3-0 on the Rays with the three games remaining in the season series. And while the Astros took the season series 12-7 against division-rival Seattle, that could give the Mariners all the more reason to be ultra-motivated for the ALDS if they faced the Astros.

So, while the Astros may not have any direct milestones to play for other than locking up their top seed, these remaining six games will have plenty of storylines and drama to follow for them and their opponent.

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