Another proper blowout

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets defeat Knicks in Houston 123-112

One of the biggest issues with the Rockets at the beginning of the season was entering the season without the appropriate amount of fear against bad teams. Houston would let teams like the Cavaliers stay in it and often blow the game late. However, since the Rockets have resorted to micro-ball, they're 9-2 and they've beaten the bad teams they're supposed to beat (except Phoenix) by considerable margins.

The Rockets are 3-0 since the All-Star break and two of those wins have come against the Warriors and Knicks, two teams well below .500, but also teams that the Rockets may have lost to in January. In fact, they did lose to the Warriors in a high profile matchup on Christmas Day. As Houston continues to strive for a top three seed in the West, this was an important element they were struggling to nail down in the first half of the season.

After attending NBA legend Kobe Bryant's memorial in Los Angeles just a few hours prior to tip-off, this was a tough night for James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and P.J. Tucker. Westbrook missed his pregame warmup and ended up being a late scratch due to left thumb soreness, Harden hadn't returned home in three weeks, and Tucker had just lost a loved one a few days prior. Though the opponent was weak, this was undoubtedly an impressive win for the Rockets, considering the circumstances.

Star of the game: James Harden cut through the Knicks defense like a hot knife through butter in the first half (31 points and 5 assists on 12 of 16 shooting from the field). It was really surprising that the Knicks never thought to throw a double team at Harden the entire time he was getting easy drives to the basket for layups. Harden ended the game with 37 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals on 14 of 25 shooting and was 4 of 11 from three-point range.

Honorable mention: Ben McLemore has been on an unbelievable hot streak from deep ever since the All-Star break and he continued it tonight. McLemore had 17 points 4 of 9 shooting from three-point range. As Harden continually collapsed the defense with his drives, McLemore was wide open for three-pointer after three-pointer and the Knicks defense unbelievably kept giving him open shots. Micro ball has helped almost every Rocket on the team, but McLemore certainly looks to be one of the primary beneficiaries.

Key moment: Behind three ball handlers in the offense, Austin Rivers hasn't had the same chance to shine in the offense as he had last year. However, tonight without Russell Westbrook, Rivers had one of his signature stretches of the season at the end of the third quarter where he scored 14 points on 5 of 5 shooting from the field in five minutes after going scoreless up until that point.

Up next: The Rockets take on the Memphis Grizzlies at 7:00 p.m. in Houston on Wednesday.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
A new hotel is in the works near Minute Maid. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Astros owner Jim Crane says the team is ready to break ground on a major construction project that will include a hotel and entertainment complex across the street from Minute Maid Park as soon as the 2023 baseball season wraps up – hopefully with another World Series parade in downtown Houston.


But another hotel? Another entertainment complex? More construction downtown? My first reaction was, how much more does Houston need? I remember when the Super Bowl was held in Houston in 2004, clubs and restaurants sprung up downtown practically overnight, only to disappear virtually the morning after. When it came to downtown development, the expression “less is more” turned out true. At least that Super Bowl.

I asked my contacts in government and the Houston welcome wagon, is this a good idea, building a hotel and entertainment complex next door to Minute Maid Park? Do we need it? Can we sustain it?

The answer every time was a resounding yes! For a couple of reasons: first, downtown Houston, coming out of Covid, is booming, leadership is creative and budget-minded these days, and most important, if Jim Crane is behind the idea, you can trust it’ll work. The guy’s got a track record.

“In 2004, the idea was to turn downtown’s Main Street into Bourbon Street. Is that what we really want? It was a misguided plan, the wrong philosophy, and businesses opened and closed in short order,” a source told me.

It was a different story when the Super Bowl returned to Houston in 2017. This time Houston saw the Marriott Marquis, a 1,000-room hotel complete with an iconic Texas-shaped swimming pool, open in time for the tourist onslaught. Also, Avenida Houston greeted downtown visitors with new restaurants and entertainment venues. Both the Marriott and Avenida Houston have continued to thrive long after the Super Bowl left town.

“We want our downtown to attract visitors while providing services for the growing number of singles and families who are making their home downtown. As we continue to host major events and conventions, there will be a need for more hotel rooms,” the source said.

The Astros’ plan to build a sprawling hotel and entertainment complex originally was discussed in 2021 but was put on hold due to Covid. Now Crane and the Astros are ready to come out swinging. Similar complexes operate successfully next to the baseball stadium in St. Louis, Chicago and other cities.

An Astros-themed hotel adjacent to Minute Maid Park is particularly intriguing. The lobby could be home to an Astros museum and team Hall of Fame. Rooms and restaurants could be decorated in honor of Astros legends – the “Nolan Ryan honeymoon suite,” or “Strech Suba’s Bullpen Bar and Grille.” There could be meeting space for autograph and memorabilia shows. There could be a broadcast facility for post-game interviews and analysis. And maybe one day, fingers crossed, a betting parlor like the Cubs have at Wrigley Field.

The Astros have a contract to play at Minute Maid Park through 2050 – the only long-term contract that doesn’t make Crane cringe. Anything that enhances the fan experience and generates revenue is good for the team and the city. I might even consider going downtown on non-game nights.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome