ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER, 102-89

Christian Wood leads Rockets past Thunder securing 3rd straight win

Rockets win again! Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets have played incredible in the last three games. Although it’s only a three-game winning streak, the Rockets are making huge adjustments with their spacing and composure. Oklahoma City Thunder coach, Mark Daigneault, says the Rockets are playing with a certain “swag.”

“They are swagging out right now offensively,” said Daigneault. “The last time we played this team they were in the midst of a long losing streak and you could feel that in the game. They have beaten two quality opponents and shot the ball well.”

Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. have led the Rockets with a sense of urgency. Both have dominated at their position. Coach Silas, who was on a suspected hot seat, moved Wood to the center position and took Daniel Theis out of the rotation, which seems to be working. Wood is spacing the floor better in pick-and-roll, transition, and from the perimeter for contested and open shots. Defensively, Wood has been a problem for other teams. In three games, Wood is averaging 24.3 points, 15.7 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per contest. He has been a busy man for the Rockets. As I dive deeper into the analytics, Wood’s has 123.1 offensive and 103.2 defensive rating too.

Hopefully, Wood maintains his great play, as the Rockets face off against three more easier opponents, including the Thunder again before they play the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets. Wood is becoming more dominant and confident on the court. His aggression has allowed him to attack the rim off the dribble and create his own shot. Wood is even shooting the three-ball better at 58.3 percent off 4.0 attempts per contest the last three games. He made a huge shot versus the Charlotte Hornets Saturday night.

"He’s playing with a lot more energy than he was prior, and that is a majority of it,” Silas said. “He’s just trying really hard right now, but being able to roll to the rim consistently time after time..."

Wood is showing his versatility on defense, which is guarding 1-5 on the court. Watching him guard players off switches is impressive after he struggled last season. He has protected the rim well too, as that can worry opposing coaches inside the paint. Wood put in some extra time on his footwork and quickness during the offseason, and it’s paying off for the Rockets defensively. He is starting to look like the main anchor on defense.

Porter has taken more command of the offense, as Silas looks pleased. He is calling the offensive sets instead of looking for Silas for the next play. Porter is seeing the court better instead of turning the ball over. He had to sit a few games due to a minor injury but was able to observe while out.

“Just be me. I’ve been trying to be something I’m not,” Porter said. “After that injury, I was able to observe and I came back out and played my game.”

Although he is averaging 4.7 per turnovers per contest, Porter is becoming a better point guard by putting his teammates in position to score. Porter is understanding when to score and pass, which isn’t an easy task at point guard. He is starting to look more aggressive on offense because of the ability to get to the free throw line or attacking the basket. In the last three games, Porter is averaging 16.0 points, 10.7 assists, and 8 rebounds per contest. Versus the Thunder, Porter recorded his first triple-double, which the ending of getting his last rebound was hilarious. Josh Christopher yelled ‘GET THE BALL, GET THE BALL’, as the crowd cheered for Porter. Porter has posted a 120.5 offensive rating the last three games.

Porter is becoming a better on ball defender, as he clamped LaMelo Ball on the last possession in OT Saturday night. He even intercepted the pass on a pick-and-roll action ran by the Thunder. Porter is defending all the elements on defense. Porter is averaging 1.7 steals per game while playing defense. No room is given when Porter plays on-ball defense. Porter has a 103.3 defensive rating, which makes sense because of the tenacity shown.

Another bright spot shown on the Rockets offense is Garrison Mathews. He was picked up on waivers from the Washington Wizards before the season started. The Rockets assigned him to the Rio Grande Vipers before calling him up to play. So far, Mathews has looked like a professional sniper for the Rockets. He is a reliable kick-out shooter with a green light to shoot a highly contested shot. He doesn’t need much space to take a shot anywhere on the court and is a very patient shooter. Mathews is fixing the Rockets problems when it comes to needed outside shooting along with Armoni Brooks.

While starting for the Rockets and getting 32.7 minutes within this three-game winning streak, Mathews is averaging 17.0 points per game and shooting the three-ball at 50 percent and has a 77.1 true shooting and 76.7 effective field goal percentage. He deserves to be a starter because he defends, cuts to the basket, and drives. His versatility is huge for the Rockets. Mathews continues to blossom and makes shooting look effortless, as he is an incredible catch-and-shoot weapon at 58.3 percent the last three games.

The Rockets should go on a seven-game winning streak along with the three games they won already. When Jalen Green comes back, they should become more dangerous because of the rhythm that is being built with the team.

Up next: The Rockets face the Thunder again on Wednesday night.

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Editor's note: This was recorded before the Astros clobbered the White Sox, 21-5 on Thursday.

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