Rockets 113, Suns 102 - Back at It Again

By Forrest Walker on January 28, 2018

The Houston Rockets are an elite basketball team, and they easily should beat teams like the Phoenix Suns. In practice, the Rockets took their foot off the gas repeatedly during that game, lost Trevor Ariza in the first minute, and didn't play Chris Paul in the last fifteen minutes of the game and still won by 11. The two biggest threats for the Rockets at this point in the NBA season are health and boredom. Tonight, both reared their heads, but were still defeated.

James Harden nearly had a triple double with his 27 points, 10 rebound, 8 assist outing. He played nearly 38 minutes, which is too high for comfort, but likely because Chris Paul played under 25. Whether Paul sat out the last quarter as a part of their rest regimen or because of a health issue isn't yet clear, but either one should resolve with Harden not needing to play above 35 minutes.

In other injury news, PJ Tucker tweaked his ankle during the game, but was able to return to play. Additionally, and more critically, Trevor Ariza went down with an unknown leg injury, and was doubtful to play the rest of the game. The hope for the team and fans must be that "doubtful" instead of immediately out suggest an injury which can be recovered from fairly quickly. He was holding onto the back of his leg, which may point to a problem in the hamstring area. Whatever the case, the Rockets cannot long afford to be without a key cog in Trevor Ariza.

The rest of the game was... boring. This was a long, free-throw filled affair which had little flow and less joy. Both sides had tedious shooting slumps and the sheer volume of free throws kept things dull. Both teams were likely frustrated at their inability to capitalize more on the weakness of the other, and the game didn't even get to garbage time due to Phoenix fighting back from an 18-point deficit late in the game. The Rockets eventually pulled it out, and it's to their credit in a game that was as much a slog as this on.

The NBA gifted us with an early game on Sunday, and it really wasn't much fun at all. The Rockets won, however, so at least the outcome is nice for the Rockets and their fans. Now they just have to keep struggling with health and boredom for the rest of the season. If tonight was any indication, they should be just fine.

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