The Rockets roll continues a little longer as they beat the Pacers Sunday night in overtime 107-103. The winning streak now moves to three games and the wins are all in the same fashion: grinding it out.
The Rockets now have three straight wins over teams that are higher than them in the standings. Two wins over the Jazz might not mean much, but a win over the Pacers sure does mean something.
Sunday's game was full of comebacks for the Rockets. They were down at the half, trailed by 13 in the fourth quarter, and down six in overtime, but still managed to pull off the win.
Below are three takeaways from the Rockets win over the Pacers.
Down 88-76 with 6:42 left, the Rockets defense clamped down on the Pacers, closing out the game on a 17 to 5 run.
The defense held the Pacers to only five points down the stretch. The Rockets closed out on shooters, they stayed tight with their man, had few forgetful lapses, and only allowed one shot each time down the court.
James Harden and Trevor Ariza were the main force behind the Rockets run offensively, scoring 15 of the teams 17 points. When Harden drove the lane he got anything he wanted, and if defenders came into help on him he'd kick it to Ariza, who would hit a three (he was 3-3 from behind the arc during the run).
Could this be a changing of the guard for the Rockets? Down 10-plus points in the fourth quarter used to be a reason for fans to head to the exits or flip the channel. The Rockets instead played defense, executed on offense and took care of the basketball.
And the turnovers didn't hurt them?
Normally when a team commits 20-plus turnovers, they lose. The Rockets had 22, and they won. Crazy, right?
The Rockets may have turned the ball over a lot, but they also forced the Pacers into their fair share of turnovers as well with 18.
Paul George had seven steals! Two of George's steals were gifts, as the Rockets after a rebound tried to pass to a guard to bring the ball up the court but he was laying in the weeds waiting for the pass. The Rockets also gave George a few steals from double-team pressure. George would come over on someone late to double, without them seeing and snag the ball away from them.
The Rockets were a tiny bit careless early in the game but when they were making their run they refocused and had fewer turnovers.
Stats tell us the best player on the floor for either team Sunday was Dwight Howard, who finished the night with 21 points and 17 rebounds. The Rockets were also +16 with him on the floor.
Howard's presence was felt all over the place, offense, defense, everywhere! In the paint, the only real option was to foul Howard, he was able to get into position pretty easily under the rim. With Howard doing well in the paint it, sucked defenders into him and he was able to pass the ball out to open shooters.
On defense, Howard altered shots. While he did have a few goal tends, he clearly made himself known. When guys would get into the paint they were looking for him and if he was around, they would pass out to someone else. Howard was also a beast on the glass, getting anything that was near him.
Howard now has had five straight games of double-doubles averaging 22 points and 14.2 rebounds. The Rockets are only two and three in those five games but clearly a Howard who is balling is nothing but good for the team.