Houston Rockets reach milestone with Fred VanVleet on the sidelines

Jalen Green led the Houston Rockets to victory last night.
Jalen Green led the Houston Rockets to victory last night. / Amanda Loman/GettyImages

The Houston Rockets embarrassed themselves against the Utah Jazz. There's no way around that. They found a measure of redemption last night against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Granted, a 116-107 victory over one of the worst teams in the NBA is nothing to crow about. Still, with the win, the Rockets improved to 40-41 on the season. A 40-win team is a respectable team.

Moreover, the Rockets did it without their two most impactful players this season.

Houston Rockets succeed without floor general

Sure, we've grown accustomed to Alperen Sengun's absence. Generally speaking, the Rockets are a tough watch without Fred VanVleet. He wasn't available in last night's action.

For some younger Rockets, his absence was an opportunity. Jalen Green had more on-ball responsibility. He responded with 26 points on 10/20 shooting from the field and 5/10 from beyond the arch.

Green also had 9 rebounds. Surprisingly, his assist volume didn't increase in VanVleet's absence. That's fine - Green got the midrange jumper going early, and he didn't look back.

Besides, Amen Thompson picked up some of the playmaking slack. He had 6 assists to go with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Thompson made some beautiful passes in transition, but he also made solid reads in the halfcourt to keep the offense humming.

It almost didn't matter.

Houston Rockets' opponent gives them a scare

Give Scoot Henderson credit. He had the best game out of any individual player last night. The young point guard finished with 30 points on 10/23 shooting from the field and 5/6 shooting from range to go with 6 assists.

Henderson hit a particularly absurd circus three in the dying seconds of the shot clock in the first half. Shooting has not been his calling card this year, so Blazers fans had to be encouraged last night.

In the end, Henderson didn't have enough help. Jerami Grant, Malcolm Brogdon, and Anfernee Simons were all absent, and the Blazers didn't have enough firepower to keep up with the Rockets.

Even without Fred VanVleet.