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The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets destroy Grizzlies in Houston 140-112

Tonight's game, buzzer to buzzer, was an idealized version of the Rockets. Houston showed what they could be when they're clicking on both ends of the floor and having appropriate fear of their opponents every night. Defensively, they were locked in in a way that's been rare for them this season. It's probably what Daryl Morey envisioned for the team when he made the bold swap of Clint Capela for Robert Covington at the trade deadline and you got to give him credit for it - this team looks damn good since.

Austin Rivers was phenomenal tonight for Houston off the bench, pulling in 23 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the field and 4 of 7 shooting from deep. There was a point tonight, where Rivers hadn't missed a three-pointer, a field goal, or a free throw, but the quest for a perfect game was quickly ruined with a missed three-pointer. However, since the All-Star break, Rivers has been playing at a different level on the offensive end and it may just be due to his shots finally falling for him at the perfect time.

Robert Covington extended his streak of games with at least three blocks to five tonight. His ability to get weakside blocks and tower over people in the paint is a skillset that was overshadowed when he played small forward for other teams. It's more than made up for the paint presence Houston misses without a traditional center and helps clear up why they made it in the first place.

Houston believes they can play much better defensively as a unit and so far, they're not wrong.

Star of the game: Russell Westbrook was in strong contention for this tonight, but James Harden's efficiency put him over the top. Harden tallied 30 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steal on a ridiculous 80.4% true shooting. Harden seemingly would not miss on his step-back jumpers, particularly in the second and third quarters where he hit 6 of 9 three-pointers. Harden would only go on to play 28 minutes and sit for the entire fourth quarter.

Honorable mention: I think it's become insulting to refer to what Russell Westbrook is doing as simply a hot stretch of games at this point. He's returned to the levels he was at 4-5 years ago, dominating the NBA alongside Kevin Durant, but this time, it's with James Harden. Tonight, Westbrook tallied 33 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, and 4 steals on 65.2% true shooting. He was an amazing team-high +37 and consistently surged the Rockets on their greatest runs as a team tonight.

Key moment: Houston's 35-17 first quarter was something to behold. The Rockets essentially played their version of perfect basketball on both ends of the floor and it was an advanced stats conocer's wet dream. It wasn't even like the Rockets shot the ball particularly well (4 for 11 - 36.4%), they just executed at a high level. It showed what this team could be on defense at it's peak.

Up next: The Rockets travel to Boston to take on the Celtics at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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The Rockets may be the smartest guys in the room. Or the cheapest

The Rockets have their new head coach. Composite photo by Brandon Strange

On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that the Rockets' coaching search had come to an end finally. The front office tabbed Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas as the successor to Mike D'Antoni, beating out former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy and current Rockets assistant John Lucas.

Knee jerk reaction?

I'm not mad at it. I expected Jeff Van Gundy to be the next hire, but maybe that was just nostalgia clouding my judgment. Either way, the Silas hire should be viewed optimistically. He's been highly regarded for some time around the league as an inventive mind that comes from basketball pedigree and has worked with big-name guards in prior stops around the league. If the Rockets didn't grab him, it was only a matter of time before another team gave him a shot.

Now there are two very distinct ways to look at this hire:

The first is that the Rockets, in spite of being one of the last teams to fill their coaching vacancy, are the smartest kids in the room. Every team is looking for the next version of what the Celtics found in their current head coach, Brad Stevens; a young brilliant coach that just needed a team to give him a shot. Hired at 37 from the college ranks, Stevens endured one losing season (his first) and has since guided the Celtics to six playoff appearances, to include three conference finals appearances. Not bad, considering he was up against LeBron James for most of those.

That is what it looks like the Rockets are trying to go for. Now at 47, Silas probably won't be mistaken for a wunderkind, but compared to 69-year-old D'Antoni, he might as well be announcing his hire on Tik Tok. If it works out, the Rockets will have once again been one step ahead of the league with the hiring of their innovative new coach.

The other way to look at the Silas hire is a little less rosy.

While Silas is only 47, he's also been an assistant in the league since he was 27. The positive spin on his resume is that he's worked with star players the likes of Kemba Walker, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry. The reality is that he worked with them while they were very young in their careers, and worked on teams like the Cavaliers, Bobcats/Hornets, Wizards, and Warriors (when they were bad). Until the last two seasons working with Luka Doncic on the Mavericks, there hasn't been a lot of success following Silas. That's not necessarily an indictment since he was an assistant, but it's not exactly a sparkling pedigree.

So while this could be a brilliant hire, at the moment, it has all of the markings of the cheaper hire. As I've mentioned before, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has been quite vocal about the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on his portfolio. Clips and quotes moaning and groaning about losing money are not typically precursors to an owner gearing up to make a big financial investment in the front office of a sports team that he can't sell tickets for anyone to come see. If in fact, money factored in more than fit, it would make sense that the Rockets would forego a coach like Van Gundy, whose previous head coaching experience would automatically command a higher starting price. We'll, of course, have to wait and see what the actual contract figures are once released.

It could be one. It could be the other. It could be both. Hopefully it translates into wins either way.

One thing that's for certain though is that Silas needs to take some pointers from Russell Westbrook and James Harden before he steps out courtside in any more of those TJ Maxx suits, circa 2000. Big boy job means big boy suits.

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