If you're looking for exciting nights to be a Houston Rockets fan, there are few nights I can recall in the last decade as good as this one. After a massive three-way trade netted the Rockets Thomas Robinson (our coverage here), the short-handed Rockets managed an incredible come-from-behind victory over the Thunder.
Off the top of my head, here are the only nights in recent memory that can top this:
1) 13 points in 33 seconds
2) Games 4 and 6 of the 2009 Los Angeles playoff series
3) *struggling to come up with anything else*
From the start, it was clear that the Rockets were facing an uphill battle. Morris, Patterson, Aldrich, and Douglas were all sent packing before the opening horn, and Terrence Jones and Royce White were still hanging in the Valley, leaving just nine Rockets active.
Add in the fact that the Rockets were taking on the leading contender to win the Western Conference, a team that had beaten the Rockets twice already this season, and it seemed unlikely that the Rockets would stick around.
After a valiant effort in the first quarter, the Thunder took back the lead and started to pull away in the second and third. Then Chandler Parsons went down. I, along with 4,000 tweens across the city began weeping. And then an amazing thing happened.
The Rockets just stopped missing. With less than 7 minutes left, the Rockets had trailed by as much as 14, yet a three point barrage by James Harden and Jeremy Lin brought the Rockets within shouting distance. And, unlike past games against top contenders, the shots didn't stop falling. The Rockets passed the Thunder and never looked back, taking the game 122-119.
James Harden, in his third game against his old team, was absolutely magnificent, giving the Rockets possibly the best game of the last five years. He scored 46 points on 19 shots, becoming the first Rocket to do that in the history of Basketball Reference's database (since 1985).
Harden was ridiculous, but Jeremy Lin's game shouldn't be discounted. In yet another display of what Lin can do when Harden is getting major attention, Lin went off for 29 points in one of his strongest scoring nights of the season. As the Rockets get younger in the front court, they will lean on this young but more experienced back court for help in games like this. If Lin and Harden can keep this up, the Rockets will be just fine.
If you have this saved on your DVR, don't erase it for a while. It doesn't get much better than this.