It is a happy Super Bowl Sunday for the Houston Rockets. After a brutal four game road trip, the Rockets returned to the Toyota Center against a Memphis team that ranked one spot ahead of them in the standings. The last time these two teams met, the Rockets imploded in the 4th Quarter losing 115-110 in Memphis. However in Houston it has been a different story as the Rockets had won 9 straight IN Houston going into Saturday night’s game.
This truly is a new and improved Memphis team (winners of 8 of their last 9). The Grizzlies had jumped Portland as the 8th seed in the West coming into Houston, setting up a big Southwest showdown. It was a game Rick Adelman and crew needed to win…and luckily they didn’t disappoint.
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With a majority of their big men sidelined or just now coming back from injury, the Rockets had their hands full with the Western Conference Player of the Month in January, Zach Randolph. The team did an okay job on Randolph, 22 points and 17 rebounds (his third straight 20-10 game), but it was the tough team defense down the stretch that resulted in a W for the Rockets.
After getting off to sluggish start (down by 14 in the 2nd), the Rockets tied it up at the end of regulation outscoring the Grizzlies 20-16 in the 4th quarter.
Coming into the game, Kevin Martin had killed the Grizzlies this season, averaging 31.3 PPG in 3 meetings, while shooting 66.7 percent (12-18) from the 3-pt line. Tonight wasn’t any different as K-Mart recorded a game-high 31 points, going a perfect 15-15 from the free throw line. It was Scola, though, who redeemed himself after missing a very makeable jumper at the end of regulation by scoring six of his 17 points in OT. Shane Battier grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds for the Rocks but it was the all-around play of Kyle Lowry that helped propel them to victory.
The plays of the game came at the end of regulation and the end of OT. With the game tied at 87, less than 25 seconds to play, Kyle Lowry made a tremendous block on Marc Gasol who was going in for the easy lay-up. In OT, with less than 10 seconds to play and the Rockets up 2, Mike Conley missed a three…the ball tipped by the Chuckwagon is heading out of bounds…and Lowry wisely sends it the length of the floor letting time expire. If he hadn’t done that, the Grizzlies would have gotten another shot with around four seconds to play.
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- At this point in the season every win is big for the Rockets but this one was special. After losing so many close games to quality opponents thus far, Saturday’s game marks Houston’s first victory in six overtime games this season.
-Defense is the key: Houston has now won their last 10 games when holding their opponent below 100 points.
-The Chuckwagon continues his push for team MVP. He posted a team-high +15 +/- tonight, going 7-10 from the field (15 points) while grabbing seven boards in 44 MINUTES OF PLAY. When was the last time you saw a “center” play 44 minutes after playing 41 minutes in the previous game against Utah. Oh yea, and he did it playing a majority of the 4th Quarter and all of OT with five fouls.
-I want Slick Rick to stop pulling K-Mart out of the 4th Quarter in order to go with AB. Aaron had a -12 +/- shooting two for six from the field with three turnovers. Brooks hasn’t been the same player he was last season and whether it is a lingering injury, malcontent from contract negotiations, or unhappiness because of his reduced playing time, go with the lineup that will win games for you.
-As Matt mentioned in the last recap from the game v Utah, the Rockets have struggled rebounding at times this season but tonight was a step in the right direction. They out-rebounded the Grizz 37-32, and going up against the likes of Gasol and Randolph, that is an impressive feat. Gasol was held to one rebound the entire game! Addaway Chuckwagon.
I hope the Super Bowl can be as exciting as this game was, nothing like an OT win to get me pumped up for watching some football. It was nice seeing Lowry at the end of the game so excited with the win. I hope this is a jumping off point for this team with a rather light schedule in February and March.