The Houston Rockets got another win against the Orlando Magic on Friday night with a 100-93 victory. With this win, Houston is now 9-0 on the second night of a back-to-back this year. It is also Houston’s first win in Orlando since March 2014.
There were several themes in this game that have seemed to repeat themselves in recent games. Houston started off slow again on Friday night and lost their fourth straight first quarter. Luckily for the Rockets, they were able to balance out every Orlando run with one of their own. Sam Dekker brought necessary energy off the bench at the end of the first and the beginning of the second. Dekker had 4 of Houston’s 12 offensive boards and he kept several possessions alive. He finished with 7 points and 8 rebounds.
After the starters came back in the second quarter, Orlando went on a 13-4 run to take an 8-point lead into the half. But when the Rockets came back out of the break, they looked like a different team. Leading the way in the third was Ryan Anderson, who finally found his shot after going scoreless in the first half. He scored 17 of his 19 points in the third and brought Houston from an eight-point deficit to a 4-point lead after the third. The Rockets didn’t trail in the fourth and were able to capitalize from Anderson’s hot shooting in the third to get the job done.
Tonight, the Rockets’ depth is what got them the win. With this team, it’s nice to know that they can count on more than their superstar.
James Harden had 14 points and 10 assists, which is not a bad stat line, but it is certainly not what he usually produces. He also didn’t hit a three-pointer in 8 attempts, the first time he hasn’t scored from behind the line since March. He had 6 turnovers and just 6 free throw attempts.
Eric Gordon was 3-for-16 from beyond the arc. He spent the whole game trying to get hot, but the shot just was not falling for him. However, he made all of his two-pointers and ended the game with 17 points off the bench. Despite their off nights, the Rockets found a way to win. Anderson’s 19 and Patrick Beverley’s 17 on 7-of-9 shooting was what led them to a win.
Another theme that repeated itself in this game was the improved defense. This is the second game this week in which the Rockets have allowed fewer than 100 points. A lot of that came from the team’s 12 steals.
This week, Houston has had to face teams with several big men the Rockets don’t match up with well. Serge Ibaka and Nikola Vucevic were the main challenges tonight for Houston, like Steven Adams and Enes Kanter last night, but the Rockets were able to keep up in the rebounding department thanks to some good hustle and effort. Orlando out-rebounded them 49-45 in the game, but the Rockets had more boards in the second half. A little three-point action hasn’t hurt them either.
Looking forward into the schedule, it looks like a lot of these themes will continue. On Sunday, they will have to face Jonas Valanciunas and the red hot Raptors, who gave them a good beating at home in late November.
But the most prominent theme for the Rockets has been winning; seven straight to be exact. Let’s see if they can keep that win streak alive as they head north of the border this weekend. Tipoff on Sunday is at 5 p.m. CT.