In their last 10 games the Houston Rockets have gone 9-1, making them one of the hottest teams in the NBA. And with the All-Star break out of the way and the regular season just a few months from being completed, the hot streak couldn’t come at a better time. Last night the Rockets were easily able to knock off Sacramento with a 129-103 win. Since Dwight Howard landed in Houston the Rockets have had a legit one-two punch with him and James Harden. And while many people think that it takes at least three solid players to make a contender, the Rockets recent success is proving they are gelling when it matters most.
There is no denying the impact that James Harden has had on the Rockets this year. On Wednesday night, Harden would go for 43-points, and the more impressive stat is the fact that he didn’t even play in the fourth quarter. Twenty of Harden’s 43 points came on the fast break, which shows the fast pace tempo he brings to this squad. That’s a great dual combo, considering he has one of the best men in the game on the block whenever they set up their half-court offense.
As for that big man, Howard would finish the night with 20 points. Fans in Houston were probably holding their breath in the first quarter when Howard banged knees with the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins, but he could come back to put get a double-double with 11 rebounds as well. Jeremy Lin and Terrance Jones both added 11, and Chandler Parsons contributed with 10 points of his own. The Rockets bench got plenty of playing time in the fourth quarter, which will vie well when the playoffs near and everyone is expected to contribute in more competitive games.
As for the Kings, they are in second-to-last place in the West. They are 5-5 in their last 10, with an overall record of 20-37. Last night Rudy Gay lead the team with 25 points, while Cousins had 16 and rookie Ben McLemore added 15. While the Rockets shot an impressive 56.9% from the field, the Kings were only able to score on 36-90 attempts for a messily 40%.
The Rockets are used to scoring, so their 129 points on Tuesday should have come as no surprise. Over the course of the season Houston is third in the league, averaging 106.5 a game.
When the season started, teams like Brooklyn, Chicago, Memphis and the Knicks, all had better odds than Houston to win the NBA Championship in 2014. However, the recent streak has shot put the Rockets to 20-1, which makes them currently the seventh most likely team in the league. Considering they started at 25-1, it’s apparent that the Rockets are staying on pace for what was expected of them this year. However, those expectations could kick into high gear in the coming months in a sprint to the finish.
The Rockets will play again on Wednesday, this time on national TV against the Clippers. Houston and LA are three and four in the standings, respectively, so this game has a ton on the line. Then after a game against Detroit this weekend, the Rockets will welcome the Heat to town. That too could be a huge match-up with big implications on the line. Keep an eye out on Houston to see how they do after this stretch. A few big wins could do even more for their confidence as they make their playoff push.