Houston Harmony

Joel Blank: Let’s hear it for the band!

The Rockets' supporting cast should not be overlooked. Houston Rockets/Facebook

The Rockets beat the Boston Celtics on Saturday night for their 15th consecutive win. This is the second time this season they have had a winning streak of 14 games or more, and are just one win shy of tying the longest streak in the NBA this year. For the average fan following this team, it would be easy to give all the credit to Chris Paul and James Harden. But if you take the time to delve a little deeper, you will find that the supporting cast has been a huge part of the team's success throughout the season and the current streak. When you get to this point in the season and have the best record in the league, you are definitely getting contributions from different players, but this team is getting them from just about everyone up and down the roster. This Rockets team is on pace to have the best regular-season record in franchise history. Let's look at the last 15 games and the key contributors not named Harden or Paul. 

The first five games featured big road wins against the Spurs and Cavaliers, along with wins over teams they should beat like Phoenix, Brooklyn, and Orlando. The common denominator in most of these wins was the contributions of Gerald Green off the bench. The Houston native has brought new meaning to the phrase "right off the street" since Daryl Morey brought him to the team. He literally was on the street, in the driveway shooting hoops with his dog, all while tending to his son who lives in Boston. Then suddenly everything changed, as the phone rang, the tryout went well, the contract was signed and the rest is history. He averaged 13.4 points over the first 5 wins of the streak. 

In games 6 through 10, Green was still a factor, but others contributed as well. Clint Capela had a 25-rebound, 23-point explosion at home against the Nuggets, while Ryan Anderson broke out of a long shooting slump with 21 against the Timberwolves. Green led the bench contribution with 12 points in the win at Miami as well as a dozen at home against Dallas. The Sacramento game was a true team effort as Capella had another double-double and Luke Mbah a Moute and PJ Tucker had 11 and 10 respectively. This handful of games featured 2 blowouts and 3 grind it out victories, but overall more team basketball on both ends of the floor. Granted the games were against lesser opponents, with the exception of the Timberwolves but they were solid wins nonetheless. 

In the last 5 games, the competition got better and so did the supporting cast. Capela had 25 points and 11 boards against the Wolves in an 18-point win, while Trevor put up 14 and 6 in a road W against the Nuggets.  Luke Mbah a Moute was a catalyst on the road in Salt Lake City, scoring 15 of his 17 points in the 4th quarter to lift the Rockets to their 13th straight win in a traditionally tough place for them to play. When you factor in this was a back-to-back that involved two of the most difficult travel cities in the league and included fatigue, altitude, lack of sleep and the quality of opponents, this may have been the most successful 2 game road stretch of the season. The bench did an admirable job on the 3 game road swing, as they were forced to fill in for Gordon, Capella, Anderson, and Brandon Wright who were all out during the trip. In the last two victories against the Clippers in Los Angeles and at home against the Celtics, Eric Gordon was back to his normal self as he poured in 22 off the bench against the Clips and a game-high 29 against Boston. I would be remiss if I didn't also include Trevor Ariza's performance against the "C's," as he was huge with 21 points and key defensive stops, steals and hustle plays all over the floor late in the game to seal the victory.

As you can see, it is a true team effort this year with the Rockets roster and consistent contributions of anyone who has their number called by Mike D'Antoni. Of course Chris Paul and James Harden have been fantastic all season. That's what superstars are supposed to do and how they are supposed to lead on a championship-caliber team. The difference between being a playoff team and a title contender can be found in the contributions of the supporting cast and the key roles that they play. It is safe to say that H-Town has as deep and talented a cast of characters that contribute as any team in the NBA. After all, Michael was the main superstar, but the rest of The Jackson 5 more than carried their weight as they held down the #1 spot on the charts. This Rockets rotation may not be The Jackson 5, but they darn sure have made sweet music as they have racked up wins and helped the Beard and CP3 guide this team to the top spot in the NBA. So let's hear it for the band as they mesmerize and harmonize in pursuit of records, titles and a gold trophy.

 

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
This is getting out of hand. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Allsport/Getty Images.

Dr. Rick warns his patients, young homeowners who are turning into their parents, you can expect to pay more for snacks and drinks at a movie theater. It's the same deal at a professional sports venue. Three years ago, I put a down payment on a cheeseburger at Toyota Center ... I still have three more payments to go before I get it.

But this is ridiculous. The PGA Championship, the lesser (least) of golf's majors, is charging $18 for a beer, a 25-ounce Michelob Ultra, at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa. It's $19 for a Stella Artois. You can buy a six-pack for less at the supermarket. Aren't there laws against price gouging, like during a hurricane? Isn't Tulsa where the Golden Hurricanes play? Get FEMA in here. Did tournament directors get together and ponder, how can we piss off our fans? Sure, it's Tulsa and there's not much else to do, but that's no excuse.

Charging $18 for a beer makes the concession stands at Minute Maid Park look like a Sunday morning farmer's market. A 25-ounce domestic beer during an Astros game is $13.49. A 25-ounce premium beer is $14.45. Yeah, that's high for a beer, but at Minute Maid Park there are lots of hands in the till. Aramark wants to make a profit, the taxman has big mitts, and the Astros want their cut, too. Look, you want to sign Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez to an extension or not? Then drink up and don't complain. Some quiet grumbling and head-shaking is permitted, however.

You know the PGA Championship is charging too much for a beer when even the rich pampered players take notice. "18 (!!!!!) for a beer ... uhhh what," former PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas tweeted. "Good thing I don't drink a lot."

Like he will be in line for a beer at a public concession booth, anyway.

Of course there will be fans sneaking in beer in baggies strapped to their ankles, like stuffing your pockets with store-bought Snickers before going to the movies. It doesn't have to be this way. The Masters, the most prestigious golf event, charges only $5 for both domestic and imported beer. I know it's a gimmick, part of The Masters mystique along with pimento sandwiches for $1.50, but still it's a welcome gesture. You never lose when you treat the public fairly. When Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened in Atlanta, Falcons owner Arthur Blank insisted that food vendors charge the same inside the stadium as they do at their regular restaurants. Same thing when Denver International Airport opened, fast food restaurants couldn't jack up their prices to their captive customers. Here? There needs to be a loan window outside the Cinnabon booth at Bush-Intercontinental.

Except for the Masters in Augusta, golf's majors aren't tied to a city. A major comes to a city maybe every few years or in most cases never. There's no need to ride into a city like the James Gang, rob the local bank, and high tail it out of town. Golf should be the last professional sport to stick it to fans. While the game has made strides to open its arms to lower-income youths, golf remains an elitist, extremely expensive sport for regular folk. Equipment is expensive, private courses are exclusive and country clubs are exclusionary. Public courses are less expensive but still expensive and crowded. Plus there's never been a professional sport more dangerously dominated by one person than golf. I can imagine network executives on their knees praying that Tiger Woods makes the cut and plays on weekends. Otherwise, TV ratings go straight into the toilet, you know, like whatever team Mattress Mack is betting on. (I joke because I love, and frankly a little scared.)

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome