A week ago, things were looking pretty bleak for the Houston Rockets. 2016 began with a loss that pushed the losing streak to four games and the team looked as discombobulated as ever. Then, right in line with this season’s theme of unpredictability, the Rockets decided to turn the tables and look like a respectable NBA team and now have a nice little three-game winning streak to show for it.
Sunday night’s overtime win against the Indiana Pacers was a good showing of team effort, with solid contributions from nearly everyone who took the court. Despite not shooting his best and accruing a few horribly timed turnovers, James Harden had a good overall game and was only one assist and one rebound away from a triple-double. It was a vintage night for Dwight Howard, who had 21 points accompanied by 17 rebounds despite not being sure he would suit up due to pesky back pain.
However, the MVP of Sunday’s game was Trevor Ariza. After going MIA for the past few games, he showed up big time when it mattered, holding the duty of guarding Paul George as well as pouring in 24 points while shooting 5/9 from beyond the arc and 8/14 overall. He hit a few timely threes that pushed the game into overtime, and is the primary reason the Rockets came out victorious.
Houston Rockets news and notes from around the web
This first article comes with a dose of irony, describing possible trade options for Ariza and why letting him go would be a good idea, posted just a few hours before he led Houston to victory. While Rockets fans may now be a little turned off to the idea of getting rid of him, there are some intriguing potential deals that could put the team in a better position to make a deep playoff run come April.
"It might seem contradictory to mention in the category of players Houston should consider trading, since he brings defense and three-point shooting — two qualities the Rockets sorely need — to the table. But Ariza’s only shooting 33.8 percent from three-point range this year and his scoring (11.2 per game) has dipped from the 12.8 points per game he put up last year. Trevor Ariza"
The Rockets have looked much better in the past week than they had in a long time, but there are still some glaring issues that the team needs to address. Kelly Scaletta of Bleacher Report covered the two biggest ones in her feature article, complete with fun and informative graphs and charts. This, in my opinion, is one of the best articles written on the enigma of Houston’s defensive woes and offensive inefficiencies.
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What all this suggests (and the eye test confirms) is that the Rockets are not closing out on shots or rotating the way they did last year. Lazy closeouts mean more open shots. The better field-goal percentage reflects those open shots are less rushed.
Sometimes the easy take is to say that the problem on defense is a lack of effort. With the Rockets this year, that’s probably the case. If they didn’t try any harder, they wouldn’t be trying at all.
Sam Dekker gave us all a reminder that you’re never too old or too successful to catch flack from your Momma. Despite him having a spot on an NBA roster at age 21 and being one of the best players ever to come out of Wisconsin, his mother gave him some sass about him leaving college early and not graduating, and CBS Sports captured the action.
Dekker plays basketball at the highest level, makes millions of dollars and will go down as one of the best players in Wisconsin school history.
Still got zinged by his mom. Mothers: undefeated.
thanks ma pic.twitter.com/p8BIOg5Lwn
— Sam Dekker (@dekker) January 9, 2016
Hopefully you readers won’t mind me ending on a light note. I figured the Rockets are actually winning games right now (knock on wood) and Sam doesn’t get enough attention, so why not? Trust me, I’m still aware of the issues facing Houston and am just as confused and frustrated as could be with the season as a whole.
The Rockets face the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday and look to continue their winning streak against a team they’ve lost to twice so far this season. They’ll most likely be down a few players due to injuries and suspension, so the odds are probably against them; however, considering this team’s unpredictability, how many times have the odds actually mattered this season?
Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our Space City Scoop Round Table Sessions to help you get through the season. Start your morning with SCS Daily Rocket Science which offers an update of news on the Rockets around the National and Social Media sites and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.