After their win against the Miami Heat, it’s no surprise that the Houston Rockets won their second game in a row defeating the Phoenix Suns 111-105, here’s the players grades.
What’s surprising is the way Houston won. Who would have thought on a night where James Harden shot a dreadful 21 percent, and Dwight Howard only contributed four points, the Rockets still had enough fire power to pick up a road victory.
While both Harden and Howard struggled, it was the small ball of Corey Brewer and Trevor Ariza that led the Rockets to their 27th victory of the season. With the All-Star break quickly approaching, it’s important for every member on the team to find their mojo as Houston prepare to make their mid season push.
Three Things We Saw
It’s Time For A Break
The Rockets started this game playing like a team in desperate need for a break. Within minutes after the opening tip, Houston trailed Phoenix by 15 points.
After Ariza scored the opening three, the Rockets missed their next six shots. On the defensive end, their defense was horrendous. The game started off so awful for the Rockets, J.B. Bickerstaff was forced to remove all five starters and replace them with reserves. Before Bickerstaff’s substitution, the Rockets had an efficiency rating of minus 10.
As bad as the first half was, it’s time for the Rockets to take a long break. Over the past 14 days, the NBA schedule has not been kind to Houston. With each game, the Rockets appear a step or two slower than their opponents.
Thankfully, after their game against the Portland Trail Blazers next Wednesday, the Rockets will have eight days off for the All-Star break. Hopefully after taking some time off, Houston will regain their champion aspirations heading into the second half of the season.
Bickerstaff has seen enough for a few minutes. He's benching everyone. Suns up 15-5.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) February 5, 2016
Brewer for MVP?
No one anticipated the MVP performance Corey Brewer showcased in the Valley Thursday.
After the awful start that sent the starters to the bench, Brewer played his best game of the season. While Harden and Howard struggled on both ends of the floor, Brewer picked up the slack for the Rockets. Although he only scored seven points in the first half, the intensity and dedication Brewer played with changed Houston’s momentum in the second half.
During the final 24 minutes, Brewer had his highest scoring half of the season. He scored 17 of his 24 points, and when Houston needed a bucket down the stretch, it was Brewer not Harden who provided it for the Rockets.
It’s been a while since Red Nation have seen this kind of performance from Corey Brewer. Hopefully this game will give him the confidence that will carry in to the second half of the season.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) February 5, 2016
The Trevor Ariza Show
Ariza finishes the fast break with a slam. https://t.co/1Ney04xPJb
— ClutchFans (@clutchfans) February 5, 2016
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Since the calendar change to 2016, Trevor Ariza has played his best basketball of his career!
First, it was the game against the Dallas Mavericks where he scored 29 points in the win. Then, he put on his best Stephen Curry impersonation against the New Orleans Pelicans. In the Big Easy, Ariza scored a season-high 31 points while shooting 66 percent from behind the arc.
Over the past ten games, Ariza has averaged 16.4 points, 2.7 steals, while shooting 47.1 percent from the field. Against the Suns, Ariza was just as good.
Once Brewer helped the team pick up their intensity, Ariza was awesome as he helped pick up the slack in the midst of Howard and Harden’s struggles. On offense, he was Houston’s secondary scorer, and their primary stopper on the defensive end.
How good was Ariza’s defense?
Suns forward Markieff Morris scored 12 points during the first quarter. Once he made some defensive adjustments, Ariza held Morris to two points the rest of the game. With 22 points and 4 steals, the Trevor Ariza show is far from over!
With the trade deadline around the corner make sure you visit Space City Scoop daily for our trade series. Each day SCS will feature an article on who the Rockets should trade for or what it would take to part ways with the players currently on the roster. Finally we’ll assess the Rockets and each team in the Association in terms of what their needs are, if they should be buyers or sellers and also speculate on who would be the ideal trade target.