It was a tale of two halves for Rockets in their victory. With Dwight Howard out due to a sore back, the Rockets struggled during the first 24 minutes to adjust. While they only scored 39 points in two quarters, it looked as if James Harden was the only player who came ready to play. He scored 16 of their points in the first half alone.
Due to their sluggish start to the season, it is important for the Rockets to find a great rhythm before the All-Star break. So in the second when the Rockets put on one of their best team performances of the season it was an encouraging sign. Moving forward the question (as it’s been all season) is can the Rockets sustain this effort and consistent defense.
Three Things We Saw
All Around Harden
Based on how he played I began thinking James Harden must have read a few of my articles about becoming an all around player. Although he did not score 40 or more in the win, this was one of Harden’s best game of the season! Besides a great scoring night, Harden was more engaged on all areas of the floor. He played with more hustle, and his defense was much improved. His rotations were better and he contested every shot that came his way.
This game proves Harden can have a major impact on the court outside of scoring. Now my only challenge for Harden is can he play an all around game consistently? Just imagine, once Dwight Howard gets healthy and Harden continues his all-around game, the Rockets will once again find themselves favorites to win a title in the second half of the season.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) January 8, 2016
Last of a Dying Breed
Besides watching Harden’s all around game, it was great to see Jason Terry play like it was 2006 again. With Ty Lawson out for the first of his 3-game suspension Houston needed someone to help with the distribution and the scoring load in the second half and the Jet was primed for the task. He scored all 12 of his points in the second half, and it was by far his best game of the season.
Although I was never a big fan of Terry, it was nice to see the 39 year old play as well as he did. There are not many players left from the 90s in the league, so it’s a special privilege to watch one of the greatest shooters of all-time have a tremendous game like Thursday night. Although he did not play like his age, Terry may be in the first stages of Alzheimer after this pass.
Jason Terry with the dime! https://t.co/z8q75hUP5j
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 8, 2016
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Great Energy and Defense
When the Rockets are playing great defense, their game improves dramatically. In the first half, Houston did not play well on the defensive end and they trailed 44-39 at the half. Notably without Howard (out due to back stiffness) and with Rudy G0bert returning it was a more difficult task, but the team found a way to gel and play together. However, once they picked their defense and energy up in the third, the Rockets went on and outscored the Jazz 33-22 to take a 72-66 lead.
If only the Rockets can keep their defense and energy up consistently, Houston would be near the top of the Western Conference. What ever JB Bickerstaff said to the team at the half, he must continue that motivation. When the Rocketed picked their energy and effort up on defense, it allowed Houston to get some easy and exciting fast break points on the offensive end.
Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the early season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.