Rockets capture 2nd win of the season

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets climb back to defeat the Thunder 116-112

It was ugly, it was unconventional, but the Rockets managed to climb out of a 62-52 halftime deficit to escape the Toyota Center Monday night with their second win of the season. It's clear the Rockets still have a lot to clean up, particularly on the defensive end of the floor, but they'll take these close wins in the meantime. As Houston continues to struggle to hit their jumpers, head coach Mike D'Antoni believes this stems from their overall defensive effort.

"If you don't have energy on defense, then you usually don't on offense," said D'Antoni after the game. "In my experience, if you don't play hard defensively, then your shot is short and you don't roll into it. To me, it's a fact that one leads to the other."

The Rockets shot 22.7% from beyond the three-point line and without the heroics of Russell Westbrook and P.J. Tucker, it's unlikely they walk out with the narrow victory that they got. James Harden and Eric Gordon could shake their early shooting slumps as they both combined to shoot 4 for 21 from beyond the arc. Harden's scoring mostly came from his ability to get to the foul line and convert (21 of 22). To try and make up for the three-point disparity, the Rockets scored 56 of their team points from the paint.

Star of the game: While Harden scored 40 points tonight, Russell Westbrook will be taking home this honor for the third straight game. Putting up 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists on 9 of 16 shooting from the field, Westbrook absolutely carried the Rockets over the finish line. His rebounding and playmaking in particular were crucial as the Rockets could not buy a basket from long-range.

"It's up to me to be able to make sure my guys are ready to go and not just ready, but to compete and play hard, because playing hard is not an option for me," Westbrook said after the game. "That's something we have to take pride in. To get to that level, we have to do that every night."

Honorable mention: P.J. Tucker was fantastic tonight, and he's been one of Houston's only reliable three-point shooter to start the season. Tucker chipped in 17 points, 9 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, and shot 5 of 7 from three-point range. Tucker was active defensively, asked to play small ball for much of the game, and hit a huge three pointer for the Rockets in the fourth quarter off a Westbrook assist.

"I would imagine if he didn't do what he did, we probably would've lost," D'Antoni said. "He also allows us to go small and I thought that helped us in the second quarter when [Nerlens] Noel was in there."

Key moment: The aforementioned dish to P.J. Tucker had to be the play of the game for Houston. It was just such a momentum shifter and again illuminated the kind of chaotic energy that a Westbrook can bring to this Rockets team.

Up next: The Rockets will go on the road for the first time this season to play the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, October 30th at 7:00 p.m.

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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