I had totally forgotten that these teams had already played. Interestingly enough, after tonight the Rockets will have finished their season series with a third team (Memphis, Philadelphia, and now New York).
That first matchup was a 119-97 drubbing in New York after the Rockets had been handled at home against the Sixers. Only one Knick finished with a positive +/-, and that was Ramon Sessions at +3 in six minutes.
Houston was carried by its starters. James Harden took 17 (!!!) threes and Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza, and Eric Gordon each took eight. In all, Houston went 19-52 from deep for 36.5%.
New York actually opened the season 0-3 against some decent competition (at OKC, Detroit, and at Boston). Since then, they are 10-4 and up double-digits on the Atlanta Hawks as I type this sentence.
All of the Knicks’ losses have come against teams that look to be playoff squads. The next step for them is to start winning some of those games. A win over the Raptors earlier this week was the first step for them. Sans Carmelo Anthony, they have found a balance that allows Kristaps Porzingis to be featured to the tune of 27 points per night.
A Knicks preview and their success allows me to post this video for the umpteenth time and say definitively that Riley Matthews was incorrect about Phil Jackson and Melo being the only things that counted towards an impending Knicks resurgence.
Porzingis is the headliner, but Enes Kanter has been known to score on the Rockets (even if he cannot defend to save his life) and Tim Hardaway Jr. once beat the Rockets by himself. Courtney Lee has been shooting well, too. And heck, Kyle O’Quinn has a pretty good +/- even when it’s actually -2!
The Rockets get Eric Gordon and Ryno back tonight, as well as have Chris Paul this time against the Knickerbockers. We’ll see how Houston continues to grow on this extended home stretch.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT on NBA TV