The Rockets got another ho-hum James Harden night, but still managed to push past the Pelicans 108-101. They looked to be on their way to another lousy performance after getting blown out in the first quarter, but the team responded and buckled down to play Rockets basketball, getting defense and scoring from the bench to beat the Pelicans.
Be warned, the takeaways are gonna be heavily focused on the bench, because they are the real reason the Rockets won this game.
I think it's fair to say Ty Lawson has been crushed by fans, media, and whoever else, but in the last two games, he's been performing on a very Lawson-like level.
In the second half of the Pistons game, he showed a little bit of life, and on Wednesday night, he rose from the dead like Frankenstein's monster.
Lawson was aggressive, dropped dimes all over the court, and was +23 on the night. No one on the Rockets was even close to Lawsons +/- number.
It's clear Lawson might be turning a corner. While he still isn't exactly the guy the Rockets thought they traded for, I think it's clear he's a heck of a lot closer to him.
Bench, Bench, Bench!
For the first time all year, the Rockets had three guys off the bench score 10 or more points. And for the only the second time all year, the Rockets' bench outscored the opposing teams bench.
When the Rockets first team was not getting it done in the first quarter, the bench came in and did what it did last year: They provided a boost and were active causing turnovers, which turned into offense.
Corey Brewer still might not be able to get anything to go down, especially at the rim, but he instead got foul calls, something that has not happened often for him this season.
Not only were Lawson and Brewer active, but Terrence Jones was also very good, especially early. Jones scored 11 first-half points and was a big reason the Rockets did not find themselves in another 20+ hole.
Is the sunshine on the horizon?
In "The Dark Knight", as Harvey Dent was addressing the media, he mentioned, "The night is darkest, just before the dawn."
The Rockets were 5-10 and riding a three-game losing streak, with losses to the awful Nets and a very depleted Mavericks squad mixed in. That was hopefully the darkest time for the Rockets this season.
Since that 5-10, the Rockets are now winners of three of their last four games. The Rockets aren't completely in "the dawn" yet, but the darkness is starting to fade.
Though the team is starting to show signs of life, there are still plenty of problems and lots they can improve on. But in the last four games, we've seen more good than bad and also peaks and glimpses of the team that was so feared last season.
While they have still not put together a whole, complete game, they may be a lot closer to last year's squad right now than at any other point this season.