With the Houston Rockets ending their four-game losing streak on Wednesday night, should they feel encouraged about their victory against the Denver Nuggets?
Heading into Wednesday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets, the Houston Rockets were in a mid-season slump. The Rockets had dropped four straight games, including two games to non-contenders and another to the Los Angeles Lakers, who were playing without Anthony Davis.
On top of that, Rockets guard James Harden had been struggling to find his shot, as The Beard was averaging 29.3 points on 33.6 percent from the field and 17.6 percent from deep during that span. This led to many questions regarding why exactly Harden was struggling and how long his struggles would last.
The Rockets bounced back in a major way against Denver, as they trounced the Nuggets 121-105, although the game wasn’t as close as the score may indicate. The Rockets shot 44.8 percent from downtown, which is only the 11th time they’ve shot 40 percent or better from 3-point range this season.
The Rockets also dominated the rebound battle, as they outrebounded the Nuggets 53-40, which was due in large part to Russell Westbrook’s 16 boards.
Perhaps the Rockets’ biggest sign of encouragement was the fact that they held the Nuggets to a mere 15 points in the second quarter on just 36.8 percent from the field, which is impressive considering the fact that the Nuggets rank tenth in the league in offensive rating. It goes without saying that the Rockets have struggled on the defensive end, as they rank 22nd in points allowed, so this was a pleasant surprise.
Another sign of encouragement came in the form of Harden, who scored 27 points and had an astronomical true shooting percentage of 68.9 percent. Granted, Harden shot 33.3 percent from deep, which is lower than his season average of 36 percent, but it’s much better than the 17.9 percent he had been shooting during the Rockets’ losing streak.
But for all the positive signs the Rockets showed, the fact remains that the Nuggets were playing without Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Paul Millsap, Michael Porter Jr., and Mason Plumlee. This meant the Nuggets were without their leader in steals (Harris), their leader in blocks (Millsap), and their second leading scorer in Murray. On top of that, Millsap and Harris are two of the Nuggets’ top-five scorers and MPJ and Millsap are two of their best 3-point shooters as well.
When you add it all up, the Nuggets were playing without three starters, so in theory the Houston Rockets should have won in similar fashion, if not by more points. Although there were many positives for the Rockets, considering how they’ve played recently, we don’t know how much differently the outcome would have been if the Nuggets had a healthy roster.