Before Wednesday, the Pacers had only lost two games in a row one time.
That one time, they followed it up by shellacking the Houston Rockets 114-81 in a game none of us want to remember.
Tonight, the Rockets look to put that loss behind them and avoid being swept by the Pacers once again this season.
Ready for a segue?
Earlier this year we talked about favorite moments when it came to the Rockets. Mine happened on March 21, 2001.
It was my first Rockets game live. I had never been to the Summit, and by this time it was the Compaq Center. The Rockets were 9th in the West at the time, and Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley were young and the sky was the limit (except the limit was the sky). Except I wasn't there for them.
I couldn't have been more excited. Little 12-year-old AK was running up the steps, yelling at his dad to keep up.
In reality, I was there for the Pacers more than I was for the Rockets. I didn't like Francis or Mobley. Maurice Taylor was frustrating. Hakeem was injured and done. Heck, Shandon Anderson was starting. The only Rocket I liked was Moochie Norris.
But I really liked Reggie Miller. He was my favorite player in the league at the time. I thought he was awesome. He could hit threes and he beat the Knicks all the time. What wasn't to love?
I still wanted the Rockets to win, of course. They took an early lead but late in the game they were down 11. Then they started clawing away. Down 1, they fouled Miller and he knocked down both free throws with 15 seconds left. People started filing out of the Compaq Center.
A funny thing happened though. Moochie Norris popped a three and sent the game to overtime. The Rockets started down in OT, but Mo Taylor helped them work back to force 2OT. Then when the Pacers took yet another lead, and Mobley hit a late three to force 3OT. I had never seen a game go past 2OTs. I didn't even know it was possible. And I was there! It was way past my bedtime, but my dad and I were yelling like maniacs from the nosebleeds. The Rockets finally pulled away and won 127-118 in 3 overtimes.
Most of my best Rockets memories are with my father. We watched every game of the 1993-94 playoffs. We watched all of them again in 94-95. Those were great seasons for the Rockets, if you recall.
One of the toughest parts of going to college 9 hours away by car from Houston was the inability to watch Rockets games in general. Out here were get FSN, which shows the Mavs and the Spurs. But even with the advent of online streaming, I could watch games again (note to the FBI and NSA: totally legal streaming, guys). However, I'll never have those days as 12-year-old me watching with my dad. We're both older now and neither one of us can watch every single game what with other commitments.
I could try some hyperbole about the loss of childhood innocence like Cormac McCarthy or maybe an analogy about how the Rockets season is like me and neither one of us should be looking to the past.
But that one night, for those 63 minutes of basketball, it was special. And I'll never forget it.
Here's a link to the Basketball-Reference page for the game.
Tip off is at 8:30pm CST on ESPN
Point Guard: Patrick Beverley vs. George Hill
Can't bet against the soul of the Rockets right now. Beverley has just been amazing since the All-Star break.
Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Lance Stephenson
If you're the Pacers, you hand the ball to Lance Stephenson, you say "Look at James Harden. He thinks he's better than you. He thinks you're a playground talent that can't make it in this league." And then you get out of the way as Stephenson carves up the worst defensive player the Rockets have and goes for another triple double then complains about his All-Star snub while you remember that you're going to have to pay him gobs of money in the offseason.
What I hope happens is that the Rockets build a lead and Stephenson tries to "take over."
Small Forward: Chandler Parsons vs. Paul George
Over/under on Paul George emotional expressions: 0. Take the under.
Power Forward: Terrence Jones vs. David West
Last time these teams played, West and Scola absolutely ate the Rockets alive. Jones finished with a game-low -30 in the +/- column.
Bold prediction: the Rockets will lose if Jones is -30 again. Huge if true, I know.
Center: Dwight Howard vs. Roy Hibbert
This Roy Hibbert verticality crap has got to stop. I find it interesting that David West thinks Hibbert is getting the short end of the stick and getting called for fouls when he does nothing wrong.
Quite the contrary. Hibbert is getting the benefit of the doubt far too many times while Dwight Howard gets fouls for being near a player going into the paint. Refs have always policed bigs poorly, but they are really setting the bar especially low this season with Dwight.
Rockets: Jeremy Lin, Omri Casspi, Omer Asik, Donatas Motiejunas, Jordan Hamilton, Francisco Garcia
Pacers: Luis Scola, Evan Turner, Chris Copeland, Ian Mahinmi
Advantage: Anyone but the Rockets
Prediction: Rockets are winning this game, 104-96.
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