This Rockets team continues to baffle me. Losing to the New Orleans Hornets at home in another OT loss after a tough defeat against the OKC Thunder only a couple days before, there is no way they could beat Atlanta on the road…is there? The Rockets hadn’t done too well in back-to-back games this year (3-7) and the Hawks coming into the game with a 10 game home win streak seemed like a team finally figuring out their identity. The Rockets already had a big road win this week in Boston, so why not another one?
Let’s skip ahead to the second half with the Rockets trailing by 9 in the third quarter. It wasn’t one individual necessarily who got Houston back in the game…but a collective team effort. The Chuckwagon started it off with a lay up, then Aaron with a jumper, then Aaron with a three, followed by a Kyle Lowry three, and two Jordan Hill jumpers. This 12-3 run gave the Rockets a 1-point lead at the end of the 3rd and they never looked back. In the 4th they went on an 8-0 run, hitting 13 of 16 shots, pushing their lead to 10 with six minutes left. A familiar position but could they close out the game? With less than 3 minutes to play, the Hawks pulled it to within 5 with a huge Joe Johnson three pointer (who had a game-high 30 points), but then AB took over. He scored 9 straight Rockets points, after the Johnson three, hitting an array of shots (lay-up, three, and clutch free throws) to secure the win for Houston.
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Brooks should invest in real estate outside of Houston because he has been on fire in the last 2 road games. After 2 miserable games at home against the Thunder and the Hornets, he blew up for 24 points and 10 assists, hitting clutch shots down the stretch to lift Houston to a much needed win. Scola dropped a nice line 20 points on 10-16 shooting, and it was SO nice seeing Chuck back on the floor for Houston. Not labeled as an offensive threat, Hayes had 12 big points and 8 rebounds helping Houston outrebound a much taller Hawks team 45-32. However, it was Jordan Hill who gets the game ball. Hill had a career-high 16 points on 8-12 shooting, also grabbing 8 boards. He played smart, picking his spots to shoot, but what impressed me most was how he responded after 2 terrible games. He had a combined 2 points in his last 2 games after dropping 12 against Shaq and the Celtics.
-You could tell Kevin Martin’s wrist is still bothering him. K-Mart didn’t look like his aggressive self, going 2-7 from the field and only 5-5 from the free throw line. The Rockets are going to need K-Mart to get better fast as they have three must win games coming up.
-Going further into the brutal January schedule, the Rockets play the Bucks, the Knicks, and the Grizzlies next. Yes the Knicks are a lot better than when the Rockets faced them earlier this season, but these are 3 games the Rockets certainly can win and I expect them to be victorious. Going 21-23 before facing the Magic, the Spurs, and the Mavs, is certainly a lot better than 18-26 before facing the top of the East and West. Even ‘Dork Elvis’ tweeted 2 of these games as ‘critical.’
-Jordan Hill needs to gain some consistency. After 2 atrocious games against the Hornets and the Thunder, both which were in reach for the Rockets to win, he had 2 points…COMBINED.
-After a scary moment with rookie Patrick Patterson last night, it appears he is okay and back in Houston getting his chest checked out further. In the third quarter Patterson left Philips Arena in an ambulance because of chest pain and congestion. Last night he tweeted: “Thanks for all the love, thoughts, and prayers. Feeling better. Flying back to Houston. Wheels up!”
-Stat of the day: Only Amare and Rose average more points per game on the 2nd night of back-to-back than Scola’s 22.8 points per game.