The Rockets needed overtime, but they finished the job tonight as they beat the Bulls 121-117. The Rockets surrendered a double digit lead for the second straight night, but tonight they were able to still get the win.
The win was lead by the efforts of James Harden, for a change. His 42 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists lead the way. He was as clutch as he has ever been, hitting step back jumpers to tie the game in the fourth quarter at 108, and to take the lead for good in overtime on an and-one with 36 seconds to go.
Harden’s heroics lead the way, but the supporting cast played their part as well. Eric Gordon scored 21 off the bench, Clint Capela had 14 and 9, and Trevor Ariza had two huge steals in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. The only exception was Ryan Anderson, who went scoreless in 33 minutes tonight. He shot 0-for-7, which proves how streaky of a shooter he can be.
All of the Rockets shooters are so streaky, and they all individually have peaks and valleys in terms of their personal shooting. Lately, several Rockets will have off nights simultaneously, and that would explain the mediocre play as of late. Harden won’t be able to dig this team out of every hole, the bench and the remaining starters have to do their part, and tonight, they did just enough to claim the win.
A win is a win, but yet again, the Rockets let go of a huge lead they had created in the second quarter. They lead by as much as 17 and lead by 11 at the break. They beat a .500 team without their best player in Jimmy Butler. Houston should have won this game and cruised, but they can’t hold a lead. They need to get better at this when they face the cream of the crop in the playoffs.
With Butler out, the Bulls still gave a great effort. Michael Carter-Williams started in place of Butler and had a season-high 23 points. Taj Gibson and Dwyane Wade had 20 and 19 points respectively and rookie Paul Zipser looked impressive off the bench with 11. The Bulls reacted well to the Rockets three-point shooting with a revamped defense after halftime and managed to pull themselves back into the contest, moving their lead to as much as eight. However, they were unable to score late and let the Rockets have this game. Houston won’t be so lucky every time, but for now, they will take this win.
Today is February 3rd and the Rockets won their 37th game. Houston did not win their 37th game last year until March 29th. That is just a testament as to how good this team has gotten. It was a great win with all of the Houston greats in the building celebrating Yao Ming and his jersey retirement. For now, Houston can enjoy a few days off as they don’t play until Tuesday, when they host the Orlando Magic. Tipoff is at 7 PM CT.