Jan 26, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Omer Asik (3) dunks over Brooklyn Nets power forward Mirza Teletovic (33) in the fourth quarter at the Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Nets 119-106. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
That is the only conclusion I can come to after watching the Houston Rockets dismantle the Brooklyn Nets tonight. I don’t know where tonight’s Rockets team has been all year, but please let them come back. All of the sudden we have a third dimension. Yes, we can run the fast-break and wear the opponent down with pure energy. Yes, we can launch three pointers without abandon. However, the exciting new dimension I saw on display tonight gives me legitimate hope that we could compete in the post-season as currently constructed. Evidently our bigs do know how to put on their hard hats, pack their lunch pails, and clock in to the factory.
Omer Asik, Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson, and Greg Smith each made surprisingly significant contributions tonight. It is as if Kevin McHale finally read my posts and cracked the whip on our big guys. Asik was getting crisp passes from the little people and hammering the rock through the hole. Morris was a rebounding machine. Patterson lived in the paint and actually pulled off a dreamshake. Smith was speaking only in dunks and free throws. Unbelievably, three days after my last post, the Rockets were suddenly a real threat to score inside in the half-court game. Before the game, P. J. Carlesimo echoed my point that the way to stop the Rockets is to force them into a half-court game. However, the Rockets were prepared and proved to be quite capable of scoring in the paint in a half-court set tonight.
If the team continues this behavior, coupled with the run-and-gun style they are already successful at, they will cease to be predictable. Houstonians might start writing team fight songs and we might actually begin to hear Rockets talk not involving Royce White on local sports radio. We destroyed the Nets in points-in-the-paint and fast-break points, and that proved too much for the Nets to overcome. Our bigs were boxing out, slam dunking, and muscling the Nets’ formidable bigs around.
This was, quite simply, a beautiful game. It is very difficult to find fault with anything the Rockets did tonight. If they did it tonight, they can do it again. That will be the challenge now; consistency. It is foolish to think that there will not be another stretch of adversity this season, but there is plenty of optimism in knowing that the Rockets can win in a variety of ways now. Chances are they will have to continue packing their lunch pails and showing up to the factory early with a steaming cup of coffee.