Houston… we have a problem. The Rockets can’t lose!
Despite being down 17 points in the second half and 9 points with less than a minute to play, Houston was able to pull out another rabbit out of the hat and win in overtime 111-109. Games like this make me so proud to be a Rockets fan.
While trailing late in the fourth, I began to think of what the headline and the story of the game should be. If you take away the last quarter and overtime, it would have been that the Rockets live and die by the three, and in the first three quarters, they died by the three. They only scored 67 points at the end of the third. The Rockets had 72 at halftime last night against New Orleans.
Houston started this game off ice cold. Ryan Anderson was the lone exception, as he came off a rough game the night before and shot 9-for-19, and 7-for-16 from three. Eric Gordon also had a decent night, shooting 7-for-15, with four threes. But the rest of the team was cold, and Minnesota was playing well on the defensive end. Their coach, Tom Thibodeau, has a defensive reputation and they did a good job on the perimeter. Andrew Wiggins in particular did a great job guarding James Harden… for three quarters.
Harden’s team-leading 28 points were huge in the win. He started off slow, but picked it up in the fourth quarter and went into supernatural mode in overtime. He was one rebound shy of another triple-double and he is further strengthening his MVP case.
The Wolves lost this game more than the Rockets won it. No lead is safe in the NBA, especially against Houston, the team who shoots more threes than anyone. Karl-Anthony Towns had a spectacular game, scoring 41 and grabbing 15 rebounds. Zach LaVine also had 24 points and Wiggins had 13, but it was not enough for Minnesota to pull off the win. The Rockets caught fire at the right time and the Wolves had no answer. A lot of that has to do with the team’s youth and inexperience, but in a few years, this team will be competing at the top of the Western Conference.
The Rockets hit some big shots at the end and this is yet another example of how this team fights adversity. The schedule again did them no favors; Minnesota had three full days of rest while the Rockets played last night in Houston.
Starting center Clint Capela suffered a knee contusion in the third quarter, and the shots would not fall for Houston, but this team, despite winning nine straight, wanted more. They did not give up on the game, and that says a lot about their character.
Wins like these also build a team’s chemistry. This team is a complete 180 from last year’s group and it really shows in the standings. Houston’s 21st victory last year also came against Minnesota, but it was on Jan. 13. This year’s winning pace is a month ahead of last year’s.
This was Houston’s biggest comeback of the year and they did it on the road on the second night of a back-to-back. This one-two after the destruction of the Pelicans last night wasn't as impressive as the Golden State-Denver twofer, but this comeback was one of the best moments of the season so far.
The Rockets have now won 10 in a row. They haven’t lost in December, and they hope to keep it that way when the Spurs come to town on Tuesday. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. CT.