With uncertainty on who is going and who is staying, the Rockets took the court Tuesday night knowing very well this could be the last time this current roster plays together.
“Something is going to happen,” guard Aaron Brooks said. “Something will happen. We have to play these two games and then wait.”
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to the next few days being over,” said Shane Battier.
With players running out of chances to impress Les Alexander and Dork Elvis before the Thursday deadline, the lights shined brightly on young Patrick Patterson. In what turned out to be a tightly contested game from the Pistons, Patterson had a career night, almost singlehandedly propelling the Rockets to a 108-100 victory.
Houston’s starters looked like they hadn’t woken up from their All-Star slumber. Seeing the best players in the world compete in LA should have given the players motivation to make it next year, but they didn’t show up for the first 12 minutes of the game. Luckily the bench gave Houston a spark in the 2nd quarter, tying the game after an 8-point deficit at the end of the 1st quarter. Everyone coming off the bench, sans Jordan Hill, contributed nicely and ultimately outscored the starters 59-49. But it was Patterson who picked the Rockets up in the 4th quarter, scoring 11 of his team-high 20 points in the final period of play. With the Rockets down 94-93, Patterson hit a tip shot off a Courtney Lee miss which sparked seven straight points out of the rookie, extending the Rockets lead to 100-94 by himself. ‘The Blur’ also had a nice 4th quarter scoring all nine of his points in the final period of play. What still bothers me about Aaron is that he isn’t taking the ball to the hole. AB shot 2/9 from the field but only one shot was in the paint. When he drives, he creates contact and gets to the line. The Rockets can’t afford to drop games against teams like the Pistons this late in the year; they have already dug themselves a big hole to climb back into the playoff pictures. Luckily P-Patt was able to put them on his back on carry them to victory…on to Cleveland!
-Oh Kevin, Where Art Though? K-Mart has been asleep since the early part of February. After putting together a fantastic (yes I am a big K-Mart fan) first half of the season, he has slowed down tremendously since the start of this month. Martin hasn’t scored over 20 points in a game since February 8th against the T-Wolves. In the four games since February 8th, he has shot 32% averaging 13.8 points per game. What is scarier is he isn’t getting to the free throw line which is his bread and butter. Come back to us K-Mart!
-Patterson has some serious range. For 6’9’’ he can stretch the defense because he is a threat from behind the arc. P-Patt shot 8/11 against the Pistons and had an eerily similar game against the Celtics in Boston in which I attended. I witnessed first-hand how P-Patt scorched the Celts for his previous career-high 15 points in early January.
-Remaining Schedule: The Rockets have a fairly easy remaining schedule the rest of the way. The next true test will be in the middle of March when Houston takes on the Suns in what should be a showdown for the 8th place spot. No matter how well the Rockets perform the remainder of the way, they will need some help from the teams in front of them. Now that the Nuggets have released Melo I see them having a seismic drop in the standings and still view the Grizzlies as a pretender rather than contender. On the plus side, the Rockets have the fewest remaining games against teams over .500 than any team in the Western Conference.