It's a shame that Carmelo Anthony had to score 50 points tonight, because few outside of Houston are going to realize that Kevin Martin dropped 37 for the winning team. Heck of a night for you, KevMart.
Once again, the Rockets allowed a game to get interesting the fourth quarter, only this time they came out on top. To echo a point made earlier this year, Houston's struggles in the fourth have nothing to do with a lack of a Melo-type player. They simply can't play defense late in games, and Denver's 37 in the last period made the game much closer than it should have been.
That said, a win in Denver, no matter how small the margin of victory, is cause to uncork the champagne bottles or perhaps simply crack open an ice-cold Natty Light.
Ball movement spurred a solid offensive output, as Martin dished out a rare seven assists to top Ish Smith's impressive total of six -- Smith's coming in only twelve minutes, no less. Kyle Lowry added five assists to combat an awful shooting performance, although Kyle did manage to get to the free throw line five times, something we've missed as he has expanded his range beyond the three-point line. Only a year ago, Lowry's calling card was his ability to drive and draw the foul. However, with a change in role comes a change in responsibility. Lowry's job is no longer to provide instant energy amongst fellow bench players, but instead to manage the starting unit in an efficient manner.
Nene's absence was a welcome relief for Houston, as the Rockets have had plenty of trouble keeping up with the bulky Brazilian in the past. This freed up Carmelo Anthony for more shots and perhaps to drive at will, but it took away the post game for Denver, leaving them to take far too many pull-up jumpers. Chauncey Billups' injury made things difficult for Denver as well, although Ty Lawson managed to fill in for him nicely.
Sometimes, it's really awesome to play against Al Harrington and J.R. Smith -- they combined to shoot 6-23 from the field.
Big ups to the Rockets defense for forcing twenty turnovers. The turnover game has plagued Houston all season -- they haven't been able to take the ball away and create possessions, so to do so Monday night was huge.
Lastly, with Houston three games out of the final spot in the playoffs, I'll put this question to those who chose to read this far: does Houston sacrifice assets to make a move for this season in order to sneak into the playoffs, or do they leave the roster alone come deadline day should nothing outside of an average player become available?
Also, for those of you who watched Sportscenter following the win, this might be a good time to inform ESPN that the game did in fact provide a final outcome, and that the Houston Rockets took home the victory.
(Don't think I forgot about your double-double, Chuck Hayes. Or that you and Ron Artest had the greatest pre-game handshake in human history two years ago.)