Less than six months removed from facing and eventually falling to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, the Rockets have surprised most with their losing ways to start the new season.
In turn, Rockets' management surprised now former head coach Kevin McHale by firing him this morning. In steps interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
Bickerstaff said the Rockets could use a confidence boost to turn their season around. Bickerstaff feels he's just the man to do that. So far, he speaks the truth. The Rockets confidence appears to be at a season-high after beating the Portland Blazers 108-103 in overtime.
The Rockets stayed competitive in the first quarter, but the the Blazers lead reached double digits in the second quarter, led by point guard Damian Lillard. The Rockets only scored 13 points in the second and trailed 46-35 at the half.
Things still didn't look good after the half. Midway through the third quarter, the Rockets only posted 47 points and were outscored 30-26 by the end of the third.
But the Rockets began to fire on all cylinders in the fourth quarter.
With just under eight minutes left in the game, Houston trimmed Portland's lead to eight — led by Corey Brewer knocking down back-to-back three-pointers. Despite the Blazers going on a 9-0 run, James Harden was relentless. Sinking two free throws and draining a three with just over 30 seconds remaining -- cutting Portland's lead to only three points.
It was Brewer who sent the game into overtime. With nine seconds left Harden dished the ball to Brewer, who made an acrobatic, one-legged 3-pointer leaving less than a second remaining in the game, not enough time for the Blazers to retake the lead.
Harden picked up where he left off in the 4th quarter, scoring on consecutive plays to begin overtime. The Blazers couldn't catch up to the Rockets, led by Harden, who scored 26 of his 45 points in the 4th quarter and overtime.
New head coach Bickerstaff gave the Rockets a boost of confidence. He may also make the Rockets' losing ways a thing of the past.