The Houston Rockets had fans worried after the dud against the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night. Coming off a five-game winning streak, it was the perfect opportunity to show the league that Houston is a force to be reckoned with. Then, James Harden rolled over with 11 points on 20% shooting while the rest of the team followed his lead. It was an all-around ugly game that was eerily reminiscent of this year’s early-season troubles.
Was the winning streak just luck? Is the bad version of this team the real version? Will Morey scrap the whole thing? Does James even want to be on this team?
After a comforting easy win against the Los Angeles Lakers last night, fans can stop asking questions like those and take a deep breath. Though there was some messy aspects of the game, more parts were reassuring than worrisome. Harden finished with 31 points in 27 minutes while shooting well over 50% and Dwight Howard turned in his nightly double-double in just 26 minutes of floor time. After an explosive third quarter, the stars got to enjoy the fourth quarter in Curry-like fashion, watching happily from the bench as the second and third units coasted to victory.
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The season may not be saved yet and there are still questions yet to be answered, but all the fans who lost their minds after the Cleveland loss can regain composure and go back to being rational. Will Long of Fansided affiliate Sir Charles in Charge said it best in his article titled “Houston Rockets: R-E-L-A-X, It’ll Be Alright. He addressed the fact that, though the Rockets’ season has not been what many expected, there is still much hope for a deep playoff run and claimed that Houston is still a good team.
"I don’t believe that Harden will stay in this slump forever. I don’t believe that Dwight Howard is just a 15-10 guy now in today’s league. And I don’t think that Houston is a borderline playoff team on pace to have a final record of 42-40."
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One of the most fascinating things about this year’s Rockets is the unique ability to be both a great and a terrible team at the same time. They accomplish that feat on a nightly basis. One possession, the team will play selflessly, making extra passes and ending the play on a wide open three or a Howard alley-oop. The next time down the court, the team will uniformly stand and watch as Harden crosses over for 22 seconds before pulling up for a ill-advised step back jumper that clanks off the iron. As Forrest Walker of Red94.com (ESPN affiliate) discussed, Houston showcased the best and worst of itself last night against the Lakers: Houston Rockets 112 Los Angeles Lakers 95: A little bit of everything.
"The same things that makes the Rockets powerful at times, their freewheeling, fast moving style, their devotion to finding any way to score, their collection of overlooked players, all of these are double-edged swords. James Harden is the salvation of the Houston Rockets and also their damnation. Their players are all better than they should be by some metrics and huge disappointments by other ones. The Rockets leave their fans confused, with no idea what to do with the team or how to measure what they are."
I said at the beginning of this article that there are still questions that are yet to be answered about Houston’s future. One of the bigger ones is this: who is Morey’s next acquisition? Whether it be through trades or off-season signings, the roster is always subject to change with Morey around. Some think it’s Markeiff Morris and others think it could be Brandon Jennings. My fellow Space City Scoop writer Coty Davis took a different look at things and made a great argument as to why the Houston Rockets should pursue Joakim Noah. I don’t think I would’ve thought much about that on my own, but it can’t be denied that a frontcourt of Howard and Noah would give opposing teams nightmares in the paint. That was until Noah suffered what is likely a season ending shoulder separation injury that will require surgery. Perhaps Morey can stick that in his bag of tricks as most pundits assume Noah will leave Chicago this summer in free agency. Food for thought.
"Along with his defense, Noah would bring more energy and a toughness that only few players possess in league today. Adding Joakim Noah alongside will spell trouble for Rockets opponents. Just think of how deadly Houston’s frontcourt will become. Dwight Howard"
I’ve often told myself often that the season is still not even halfway over, comforting myself about the Rockets’ woes. While that is no longer true (Houston is 42 games in), there is still time for the team to make a good run and be dangerous in the playoffs. It’s easy to get worried when James Harden scores 11 points against last year’s runner up, but it’s easy to let those worries go when he drops 31 in 27 minutes. This season has been full of ups and downs, and that isn’t likely to stop. The best thing fans can do is to ease up and take a deep breath.
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.