The Rockets get their second straight win over the Jazz, 103-94, on Thursday night. The Rockets, despite not having three key players, were able to get a grind-it-out win thanks to defense, James Harden, and overall team play.
It was a second straight win in which the Rockets had to fight and claw to a victory. They say it only takes 30 days for something to become a habit, maybe the Rockets new grind-it-out style only needs a couple more weeks before they bring this game in and game out.
Below are three takeaways from the Rockets win over the Jazz
No Dwight Howard, no problem.
Dwight Howard was out with lower back tightness and the Jazz's center Rudy Gobert was back in the lineup for his first time in 18 games. Normally you'd think that would spell doom, but the Rockets actually prevailed.
Not one player picked up Howard's slack stat-for-stat, but Terrence Jones, Clint Capela, and Montrezl Harrell all pitched in big.
Jones provided the scoring, 14 points on 6-10 shooting. Capela gave the Rockets extra chances on offense with 6 offensive rebounds and 10 overall, not to mention his 3 steals. Harrell chipped in on defense and brought energy and execution.
Now this isn't something you would like for a long stretch but it's nice to see that they Rockets can step up when need be.
James Harden, baller!
At half time at the Toyota center Thursday night, Lil' Troy performed his old school hit "Wanna Be a Baller." With the knowledge Troy was in the building to perform that hit, it must have helped Harden bring out his inner baller.
Fans were treated to Harden circa 2015, the Harden who was locked in for 48 minutes on offense and defense.
While it was clear the three-point shot was just not going to fall for him, it was nice to see in the fourth and final quarter, he didn't take a single long-range shot. Harden instead took everything inside the three-point line and remained aggressive.
Harden was also aggressive on the defensive end of the game. He wasn't going to mistaken for First Team All-Defense, but he didn't hurt his team. If Harden just stays with his man on defense, it makes everyone else better by default. He still had a few bad lapses, but Harden was a lot more locked in than normal.
Montrezl Harrell should be a closer
In the fourth quarter, it wasn't James Harden who played the most minutes, nor was it Trevor Ariza. Rookie Montrezl Harrell took home the honor, playing for 10:07.
In Harrell's nearly 30 minutes, he scored 4 points, to go with 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block. So what makes this stat line special? Nothing... What stands out, though, is his ability to play defense and make the plays that won't show up in the box score. Harrell might not have gotten many rebounds, but neither did his guy. Harrell played tight coverage on guys one-on-one and ,while he still is a little late helping or on switches, you can see the effort he brings.
This season, the Rockets have not had a solid closing group. Meaning aside from Harden and Trevor Ariza, who else is going to be on the floor in the final minutes with the game on the line?
Won't go as a rebound for Montrezl Harrell but kept Trevor Booker from it https://t.co/yflrhUR9jS— Dr. Joshua Reese (@MrJoshua) January 8, 2016
As of now, the vote should be for Harrell going forward. His contributions to a win go unnoticed by many but when he is in, he makes winning plays.