Red Nation Roundup: Pulling It Out

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The Houston Rockets are one hard-nosed basketball team.

In contrast to last year, they have consistently found a way to win games that they haven't necessarily deserved to win. Cold streaks and opponent comebacks will not stop them from getting the job done. That's something to be ultra-encouraged by. This week, the Rockets extended their win streak to 6 games with a mix of blowouts and crunch time victories.

Monday night versus Boston in Toyota Center coming off another grueling 5-game road trip was a sight to see. Turnovers were a major issue in the first half. The only offense that transpired was the James Harden "get to the free throw line" offense. Strangely enough, the Rockets went into the locker room sitting on a 10 point lead. In the second half, Houston's head-scratching sloppiness eventually came to bite them in the rear-end, causing them to surrender a six point lead to the Celtics at the end of the quarter led by Al Horford. Boston progressively shot better as the game went on while Houston shot worse. It seemed as though it was just one of those nights.

That was until James Harden had something to say about it.

After his usual 4 minute rest to start the 4th, he decided it was time to ramp it up, scoring 13 points in the quarter. A comfortable three point lead was put together thanks to James, only to almost be completely ruined by the questionable judgement of the officiating crew. As Boston trapped Harden in the final seconds in their last hopes to win the game, James inadvertently elbowed Marcus Smart in the face which led to a questionable flagrant foul call. Two free throws and the ball for Boston. Up one, the Rockets were forced to have to make a final stop to win the game.

It was the final inbound play. Al Horford received the ball and made his way toward the basket. The seas parted (interestingly enough) and he would surely win the game with a wide open layup attempt. But, somehow, some way, he missed. Even with Montrezl Harrell being pulled down by little Isaiah Thomas and Beverley tripping over someone's foot, the Celtics were unable to convert as the Rockets came out of this one alive.

Oh yes, if Marcus Smart hadn't flopped, he could have potentially won the game with a tip-in. Oh well.

https://twitter.com/BallersHype/status/806586457959858177

Crushing teams that are expected to be crushed is not something to be overlooked. It is a crucial team skill that can ultimately decide playoff seeding. In essence, losses need to be saved for losing to teams that are actually acceptable to lose to. So with that being said, the Rockets fulfilled this responsibility to the fullest extent. Long story short, it was a 39 point revenge win for the Rockets over the Lakers in what didn't really feel like an actual game. Eric Gordon came out on fire (8-12 from three, 26 on the game), Patrick Beverley had one of his best all-around games of the season (10 points, 7 rebounds, 12 assists) and everyone received an ample amount of playing time. Harden ended the game with 25 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists without even trying. It was a seemingly casual game that ended in a 134-99 win for Houston.

James Harden vs. Russell Westbrook, Part II.

Part I went to Russell Westbrook thanks to the 7 minute scoring drought that the Rockets suffered in Oklahoma City earlier this season. Part II was almost a repeat, but not quite. With the addition of Patrick Beverley this time around, Russ played a horribly inefficient game that swayed in Houston's favor. It's safe to say that Pat is back to his NBA All-Defense form. He bothered Russ all game with his smothering stance, swift pick pockets and intense hustle plays. On the other end, Andre Roberson continued his superb defense on James Harden. Of course, Russ ended with a triple double (27-10-10) and James was one rebound shy of one (21-9-12). They'll always get theirs, but this game really was a gritty showcase for both team's respective lockdown defenders.

The Rockets were able to build up a nice cushion that they rode through the first three quarters due to Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and one monstrous slam by Sam Dekker that put Oklahoma City's Enes Kanter on his back. Unfortunately, the cushion soon deflated as OKC came roaring back in an early fourth quarter 10-1 run. The Rockets went on an all-too-similar 6 minute scoring drought and it looked like a collapse was in the works once again. The last two minutes were completely nerve-wrecking, however, Patrick Beverley was not going to let this be a repeat of Part I.

https://twitter.com/blazersedge/status/807626199077818368

Patrick Beverley: First Team All-Defense. The Rockets went on to win this one, 102-99, avoiding a soul-crushing breakdown.

This one called for a Bev chest bump to Coach D'Antoni:

https://twitter.com/Rockets_Insider/status/807431023252439040

This team is so fun, man.

On Saturday night, the Rockets took care of business once more. The Dallas Mavericks are terrible this season, and it showed. From start to finish, it was all Rockets. James Harden was able to play in distributor mode all game, ending the game with another near-triple-double (18 points, 16 assists, 9 rebounds). Major splashing took place. Trevor Ariza put on a three point show in the third quarter and Patrick Beverley had one in the fourth. Eric Gordon went 6-9 from downtown and Capela chalked up a 13-10 double-double. It was a classic clinic as the Rockets won, 109-87.

Player of the Week: Eric Gordon

Eric Gordon has been unconscious. He just didn't miss a shot this week. He's the ideal 6th man that Houston's been searching for. Having a scoring punch like him coming off the bench is an extreme luxury, and it allows for some James Harden resting time. Gordon averaged a cool 20 points on 57% shooting from beyond the arc through 4 games while simply being unguardable.

What a week for "The Perfect Sixth Man". Expect to see some more dashing and splashing as he is showing no signs of cooling off anytime soon.

With more than a quarter of the season completed and with the Rockets now tied for 3rd in the Western Conference, it is time for fans to get excited if they weren't already. This team has proven that they are able to fight through adversity to pull out key wins in an invigorating fashion. Look for the Rockets to continue this play as they trot into what should be an easy next couple of games. Now, check out some of this week's Rockets news, columns, and breakdowns!

Crazy finish goes Rockets' way in win over Celtics | ESPN

ESPN's Calvin Watkins goes into depth as to how this game went down. The Rockets beat writer includes player thoughts and highlight sequences to emphasize what the gist of the matchup was. Check it out!

Eric Gordon ringleader of Rockets' rout of Lakers | Houston Chronicle

The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen goes through the process of laying out Houston's blowout wins against the Lakers led by Red Nation Hoops' Player of the Week, Eric Gordon. Needless to say, everything was clicking for EG and the Rockets. Click to see how sweet the revenge win was!

Rockets hold on to win tight one over Thunder, 102-99 | The Dream Shake

Here is a nice post-game breakdown that perfectly expresses how James Harden vs. Russell Westbrook Part II played out. In-game statistics were utilized to help supplement understanding of each team's performances. Check it out if you need a rundown!

Houston Rockets walking in harmony during six-game winning streak | NBA.com

The Rockets are rolling. After an easy Rocket win against Dallas, NBA.com's Fran Blinebury brings up the overwhelming confidence the Rockets are feeling right now. Everyone is enjoying themselves as the wins keep coming. It's wonderful.

Mike D’Antoni has James Harden and the Houston Rockets humming to a familiar tune | Washington Post

Mike D'Antoni clearly has a system that he has stuck with through thick and thin, and right now it's working for his current team. With James Harden at his disposal, Mike D'Antoni is able to run the offense he has been dreaming of ever since his days with soon-to-be Hall of Famer Steve Nash. Check this column out to see the eye-opening parallelism!

Under the Influence of Moreyball | The Ringer

In Morey We Trust.

Daryl Morey has made an impact on this team and the league at large. "Moreyball" is in full effect. Three pointers and layups are the name of the game. It's a revolution. Check this article out to see just how impactful the Houston Rockets' GM has been.

ERIC GORDON: THE PERFECT SIXTH MAN | Red Nation Hoops

This article was too good to leave out and it fits right into the Eric Gordon appreciation theme. This article by our own Trent Arnold explains why Eric Gordon is the perfect sixth man, mentioning what he brings to the table every single time he steps out on the court. This one is worth a read for sure.

Rockets reach new deal with Donatas Motiejunas | Houston Chronicle

D-Mo is back... I think.

After "holding out" because he and his agent "know their rights", the Rockets and the 7-foot Lithuanian renegotiated a 4 yr/$35 million deal that is more incentive heavy than guaranteed. Currently, there seems to be some delay in his return. Check out the details in this article!

3 comments:

  1. always look forward to your articles Joshua

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  2. Just read this and Joshua, your writing style is such that even a non-basketball fan can't help but enjoy the game!! Some of your descriptions made me laugh out loud. You tell it like you see it.

    I can see you as a great sports journalist or any kind of writer you care to be.

    JoAnn Miller

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  3. I have been browsing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be much more useful than ever before.

    ReplyDelete