Houston was leading most of the way, thanks to a strong 29-point first quarter. The Rockets were up 10 at halftime and were leading by 15 at one point, but the Nets hung in there and claimed a lead with 2:20 left in the fourth quarter. Thankfully, the Rockets were able to edge out a win from six Eric Gordon points in the final two minutes and great defensive plays from Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley.
If I had to pick an MVP from this game, it would have to be Beverley. Yes, James Harden nearly had another triple double with an incredible 36 points, 11 assists and 8 boards. And yes, Eric Gordon was 6-for-10 from behind the line and scored 24 off the bench, including 18 in the fourth. However, the Wolverine continues to be this team’s ultimate role player. Things have been clicking much more since Beverley entered the lineup. Houston is 12-2 in games Beverley has played in this season, and that is not a coincidence.
When the Rockets were going down the stretch, I said to myself, “Watch Bev make a stop.” On the very next play, he forced the turnover that all but sealed the Rockets’ win. Bev is just that kind of player. He’s the guy that does the dirty work and the small things for the team. He’s a major reason why this team is on a seven-game win streak and is rolling right now.
Eric Gordon is also a big reason why the Rockets won tonight. His presence in the lineup is what the Rockets were lacking last year. We did not have a guy that was a sharpshooter and a guy that could create his own shot. Gordon does that for this team. Houston lost a lot of close games last year and there were many games against weaker teams in which we could have won, but with Gordon on the court this year, those losses are turning into wins. He has the hot hand, he fits the system, and the Rockets would not be on this streak without him.
This was not a pretty win by any means. The Rockets were facing a team starting Isaiah Whitehead and Sean Kilpatrick, two guys that probably would not start on more than five teams in the NBA. However, the Rockets let the Nets stick around. They could not make free throws (21-for-36), turned the ball over too much (14 turnovers), and took too many blocking fouls. However, the Rockets avoided the trap and still got a win, and in the NBA, you will take any win you can get.
The Rockets are now 18-7, and currently hold the longest winning streak in the NBA at seven games. They will look to make it eight straight when the Kings come to town Wednesday at 7 PM CT.