Weekly Rockets report
Wins over Knicks, Hawks and Jazz highlight a solid week
Well, last week was neat, huh?
The Rockets retired their 22 year old reputation as the only major sports team among the big three in Houston to ever claim a championship last Wednesday, after the Houston Astros won game 7 of one of the most legendary World Series battles in history.
Fitting, it would seem, that the Astros would share a similarly difficult climb as the 1993-1994 Rockets. Both teams faced two game 7 elimination games on their road to glory, with the second of each being the deciding game for the championship. So while that Rockets team may have created Clutch City, the Astros certainly lived up to the name.
With the baseball season having drawn to a close and the Texans season seemingly having taken a sharp turn down skid row, the spotlight now focuses on a Rockets team that has jumped out to a great 8-3 record to start the season. Here’s what you may have missed this past week in case you were off celebrating.
Game Nine: Rockets at New York Knicks (W, 119-97)
Overshadowed by game 7 of the World Series, the Rockets stumbled out of the gate at the beginning of the game. The Knicks held the lead throughout most of the first quarter and it seemed like there was a possibility the team would drop its third straight contest. Ryan Anderson kicked off the 2nd quarter with 7 straight points to seize a lead that would never be relinquished. With the lead as high as 29 points late in the 3rd, the Rockets gave the city of Houston enough of a point cushion to confidently turn away and watch the Astros clinch their first ever World Series Championship. James Harden dropped 31 points, followed by Anderson’s 21.
Game Ten: Rockets at Atlanta Hawks (W, 119-104)
The Atlanta Hawks drained the first shot of the game, which would turn out to be the only lead the one win team would hold all night. The Rockets blurred by the Hawks with a season-high 28 fast break points and added 16 three pointers. Eric Gordon would pour in 20 points to go with 4 steals and 5 assists. Harden would add 29 points and 11 assists. As Hawks shooting guard Kent Bazemore so eloquently put it, “They just shoot the crap out of the ball.”
Game Eleven: Rockets vs Utah Jazz (W, 137-110)
My first game at Toyota Center this season did not disappoint at all. The Jazz started hot on a 10-2 run, and that was about it. By the fourth minute of the first quarter, the Rockets had seized the lead, and it would remain that way for the entire game. Harden was absolutely white-hot on his way to a career high 56 point outing. He would chip in 13 assists as well, and Gordon drained 6 three pointers as part of his 20 point performance. At one point in the beginning of the third, the Rockets had led by as much as 32 points. This game was never a contest.
It certainly looks like both the Rockets and Harden have found their tempo. In the past four games, the Rockets have averaged 120.5 points per game, while Harden alone has averaged 36.3. The past three games have been blowouts, with the average point differential of 21.3. The Rockets’ reserves have seen plenty of floor time, as a result.
Gordon’s sluggish 3-point shooting start seems to officially be a thing of the past. In the past four games, he’s fired .450 from beyond the arc, going 18-40.
The Rockets have been road warriors to start the season. Seven of their first eleven games have been away from the Toyota center, and of those the Rockets have won six.
Rockets Player of the Week (not named James Harden)
Luc Mbah a Moute. His defense is always great to see, and in the past three games he’s racked up seven steals. He understands his role, and the more I watch him, the more it looks like Daryl Morey may have found a newer model of Shane Battier. Mbah a Moute has been great off the bench to start the season.
The Rockets finally get a little bit of rest before they take on Cleveland on Thursday, followed by yet another contest with Memphis at home Saturday and an away tilt Sunday against the Pacers. The Cavaliers have been one of the most disappointing teams to start the season, but you can never count out Lebron James. Memphis has outscored the Rockets 201-179, resulting in two of the Rockets’ three losses, so it’s tough to assume that this will be an easy contest. Indiana sits at a .500 record on the season behind Victor Oladipo’s 24 point per game average, but are 23rd in the league in points allowed. The Rockets have shown this past week that they’re starting to find their rhythm, and I expect a 2-1 week on the horizon at worst.