The Houston Rockets are beating really good teams

By Sam Armstrong
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Rockets are taking playoff teams and title contenders left and right, making their recent run even more impressive.

On Monday, the red-hot Houston Rockets took down the Nuggets by a score of 125-113 to pull within 3.5 games of Denver for the first spot in the West. The win continues a run by the Rockets in which they have won 12 of their last 14 games, playing their last eight contests without Chris Paul and the last four without Eric Gordon.

Besides James Harden’s historic recent string of games, the most impressive accomplishment for Houston this season has been its success against really good squads. So far, the Rockets are 10-5 against fellow Western Conference playoff teams as of January 8. The following is a list of the records the Rockets have against each of those teams:

Denver Nuggets: 2-0Golden State Warriors: 2-0Oklahoma City Thunder: 1-1Los Angeles Clippers: 0-2San Antonio Spurs: 2-1Portland Trail Blazers: 1-2Los Angeles Lakers: 2-0

The greatest thing about this list for Houston fans is the 2-0 record against Golden State, with the exciting 135-134 overtime win last Thursday coming despite the Warriors being at full strength.

Perhaps the most alarming mark is against the Clippers. However, both of those losses came in October when the Clippers were playing maybe the best basketball in the NBA and the Rockets were still in the early stages of the Carmelo Anthony experiment. All of that seems like an eternity ago with the way Houston is playing now.

Houston has proved themselves against quality Eastern Conference opponents as well. The Rockets have only played two of the five teams in the East with a winning record (yes, there are only five), beating the Pacers twice and the Celtics once. Wednesday night will be another test from the East as the conference-leading Bucks come to town.

It would be one thing if Houston was making its comeback against teams like the Knicks and Suns, but it has been quite the opposite. Beating quality opponents has raised the confidence of fans and the team itself.

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A seven-game series is definitely different than a regular season game, but the Rockets have shown that they can beat the best of the best, and that bodes well for the playoffs.