After the go-ahead basket friday against the Dallas Mavericks, the Houston Rockets were back in action Saturday as they looked to take on the Sacramento Kings, at the Toyota Center. Although the game was a lot closer than most had expected, the Rockets extended their winning streak to three, as they defeated the Kings 120-111.
Other than his 20-20 game against the Los Angeles Clippers last month, it maybe fair to say this was Dwight Howard‘s most dominating game of the season. From the opening tip, Howard was a nightmare for the Kings. Howard’s 11 rebounds in the first half was more than he pulled down in his last four games.
Not only was Howard a monster on the boards, but the Rockets actually looked for Howard down low in the post. Love it! Howard was able to dominate the middle similar to his days with the Orlando Magic. He shot 77 percent from the field, and 57 percent from the free throw line. (Which is better than his season average.) However, Howard’s biggest contribution was the defense he played on Kings’ all-star DeMarcus Cousins.
Many consider Cousins the league’s best center, but Howard had something to say about that. He held Cousins under 10 points throughout the first three quarters, which is a season low for the big man. Cousins even had trouble slowing Howard down as he stayed in foul trouble throughout the game. Moving forward, hopefully the Rockets will continue to use Howard the same way as they did this game.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) December 6, 2015
Still No Improvement on Defense
Boy what a difference a year makes. Last season, the Rockets were one of the top defensive teams in the league. This season, defense has become the Rockets biggest problem. Giving up a total of 107.3 point per game, the Rockets defense currently ranks 28th in the league. During the first quarter, it seems as if the Rockets were going to have a great game on the defensive end as they held the Kings to 16 points.
However, between the second and third quarters, the Kings outscored the Rockets 69-55. They allowed the Kings to make 70 percent of their shots in the third, which was the reason why the Rockets were down heading into the fourth. In order for the Rockets to continue their improvements, they must play better defensive. Yeah, the Rockets were able to outscored the Kings this game, but against other championship contenders will not cut it.
Finally Ready to Takeoff
The victory against the Kings put the Rockets one game under .500 with a 10-11 record. Since their dreadful three game losing streak two weeks ago, the Rockets have now won five of their last six game. FINALLY, Houston is starting to look like the team fans expected to see heading into the season.
There are still some improvements JB Bickerstaff must make, but no team in the league is perfect (well except Golden State). No longer does James Harden have to score 40 plus points just to give Houston a chance of winning. And with Dwight Howard getting more touches on the offensive end the offense has more versatility and balance. Not to mention the return of Donatas Motiejunas makes life easier for everyone concerned. With DeMo back all the core pieces are now healthy and only Sam Dekker remains out for Houston.
Things are starting to look up for the Rockets, and it is only a matter of time before they regain their status as championship contenders in the West.
Buckets. Second half on ROOT.
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