The Houston Rockets were looking for their second straight win on Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic, unfortunately terrible transition defense and inconsistent offense once again did the Rockets in for 47 minutes. The Rockets were able to figure things out in the final minute plus five overtime minutes and escape with a victory, 119-114.
On a night that James Harden shot 2-11 from beyond the three-point line and only made six shots overall the Rockets still found a way to win. Harden had 26 points, Dwight Howard had 23 points (on a perfect 10-10 shooting) to go with 14 rebounds.
How did the other Rockets starters fair? Trevor Ariza finished with 19 points and three big steals. Marcus Thornton had 18 points and Ty Lawson finished with 16 points and eight assists.
The Rockets had a tough time tonight with their consistency. For most of the game they did not seem to be interested in playing defense, especially on the transition side of the ball. The Magic were able to create a lot of easy fast break baskets early, maybe getting some of us to believe that another 20-point loss was on the horizon tonight.
Howard and Ariza were big defensively down the stretch helping seal up the victory in overtime.
The issues with the Rockets could still be trying to figure out how to work Harden in more off the ball. Ty Lawson is doing a great job setting up his teammates, but you have to wonder if it is throwing Harden off a bit to not be on the ball so much early on. Even when he was in OKC he played a majority of his minutes at the point with Westbrook then playing off.
The change is going to take some time to get the chemistry built up. Lawson is already connecting big with Howard. Lawson's drive and dish ability is already doing big favors for Howard. Howard is getting the ball right where he wants it with Lawson drawing in multiple defenders and leaving Howard wide open for dunks. There was a big reason that Howard was perfect from the field tonight and a lot of that has to deal with Lawson getting him the ball in the right spot.
Kevin McHale is going to have to figure out how to best work Lawson and Harden together. Finding that perfect balance is what is going to get Houston from struggling on most nights to winning by 20 plus.
The Rockets head back out on the road for their game Friday. They take on the Sacramento Kings, the game is on ESPN at 9:30PM CST. The Dream Shake will have all the coverage you need and then some.