Rockets 98, Pacers 94 - Progress

By Forrest Walker on November 5, 2018

 After two victories over relatively light opposition, the Houston Rockets faced a real challenge in a strong Indiana Pacers team. In perhaps the most critical game yet of their imperiled young season, the defense held out and the offense showed up just in time to give the Rockets a statement win. Ever since Chris Paul led a players-only huddle in Brooklyn, the Rockets have been climbing out of a the hole they've dug, and tonight marks another solid step in that progress.

Despite only shooting 44.2% from the field and a mere 31.9% from three point range, on a night when the defense found itself, that was enough. Despite trailing for most of the middle of the game, the Rockets kept it within striking distance long enough for their shot to normalize and used a 29-19 fourth quarter to seal the deal.

Despite being down Eric Gordon for the second game in a row, they were able to lean on Chris Paul, James Harden and Clint Capela to secure the game. In a game where nobody could shoot, Capela's ability around the rim translated to 8-10 shooting and 18 points. Paul played over 37 minutes in a showing which probably shouldn't be repeated more than absolutely necessary, but provided 13 assists which were. Harden, as expected, was the engine of the team and scored 28 points on 15 shots, including 5-12 from deep.

And throughout the game, PJ Tucker showed the team why he's worth every penny on the defensive end, with his 2 steals only telling a small part of that story. This Rockets team is re-energized, or at the very least re-motivated. It also doesn't help that their cupboard has been re-stocked with healthy players. And though it likely made no difference tonight, the announced un-retirement of Jeff Bzdelik is another incoming reinforcement for a Houston Rockets team that has found itself more besieged than expected.

The Rockets now look forward to their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the fourth in their five-game road trip, and their first chance in weeks to pull back up to a .500 record. We're in a critical moment for Houston. They can either prove that their early struggles were a mirage, or they could instead prove that this resurgence is the actual illusion. The only way to tell is to wait for the next game.

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