Key #3: The Houston Rockets’ defensive commitment
The current construction of the Rockets team has been significantly better on the defensive end this season with the additions of Wall, Oladipo, David Nwaba and Jae’Sean Tate. But in the first quarter against the Blazers, no one was able to stop Portland.
Damian Lillard was pulling up from everywhere, Enes Kanter was playing bully ball on the inside and the Rockets were completely out of rhythm on the floor. Then the second quarter began and the Rockets showed their true heart as a team.
In previous years, a sluggish start almost certainly spelt out a Houston loss because the team simply didn’t have the defensive strength to stop the opposition. But these Rockets are built on defense and it showed in the second quarter where they held the Blazers to 18 points on 31.8 percent shooting from the field to come all the way back and go into halftime leading 53-50.
The Rockets have the league’s best defensive rating since the James Harden trade.
They have won 4 in a row. pic.twitter.com/yAmFvYqfG1
— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 29, 2021
The Harden-led Rockets used their strong offense to fuel defensive intensity and that was most successful when Chris Paul was commanding the defense. The current Rockets work in the opposite manner.
They lock down on defense and play tough team defense and then fly down the court after every stop. They may not have the offensive firepower that Harden brings to the table, but the gritty culture that Coach Silas is preaching is being adapted by these players.
Next: Key #2