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Rockets squeak into New Year with 122-119 victory over Kings

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Only the uniforms are (inexplicably) blue tonight.

Sacramento Kings v Houston Rockets
Me. It’s still about me.
Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images

The Houston Oilers won their first game of the NBA season tonight, edging the Sacramento Kings 122-119.

Wait, it was the Rockets, who for whatever reason, decided to look like both the old Houston Oilers, and also, uniforms worn (better, or more historically) by their opponent tonight, the Kings. It’s not that the uniforms look bad per se, but that they make no sense with anything in the Rockets past. (The San Diego Rockets wore green, gold and white.)

Nike, Rockets, I beg you. There is a color scheme that is well-regarded, and goes with a great period in Rockets history.

It’s red, yellow and white.

Not some blacked out version of Portland. Not the Houston Oilers in NBA form, not checkerboards (though that was ok, and so was the red and cream Christmas jersey). And for the love of God, nothing gray.

Just make us a real Rockets jersey with red, yellow, white for the special MegaCitySpecialFlair alternates. Also, if you’re going to do a Lunar New Year (maybe never again?) go all out. With a moon.

As for tonight’s game, it was a mess, but gratefully, one the Rockets, mostly via James Harden, were able to redeem.

The Rockets had 18 turnovers, and pretty much all of them were bad. Yes, there are bad and good turnovers. A good turnover comes off a good idea, on aggressive basketball, that went wrong somehow. Bad turnovers? Floaty, weak, passes. Getting into the lane with no plan, then softly flipping the ball to a defender. Telegraphing passes. The Rockets did all of this in multiples, tonight.

Add to it, this game effectively amounted to literally the first one in which James Harden, John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Christian Wood, Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker all played together. It may be the third (fourth) game of this NBA season, but it was the first game, in a real way, for these Rockets.

The Rockets offense is very much a work-in-progress.

The Rockets defense is a shambles.

This is understandable. For the new players, they’re trying to fit in with a new team. For the old players, they’re trying to change some of how they play, and also mix with new players.

That said, there was a lot to take away. One thing is, Sacramento is a good team. They’re deep, and have a lot of talent at guard. Harrison Barnes, while limited, is great at punishing small ball lineups.

Tyrese Haliburton might be the steal of the draft. He seemed to be everywhere, and made a lot of clutch shots. I don’t understand why people consider his set shot 3pter to be a weakness. Wait until he starts faking and driving off it. It’s good to see he wasn’t hurt on a hard fall. Sacramento’s best lineups are probably Fox, Haliburton, Hield, Barnes and Holmes - it’s mobile and can shoot. Marvin Bagley didn’t do much, and seems to be a sort of ghost haunting Sacramento fans.

We’re going to see Sacramento again on Saturday, in a day game, so we might as well get to know them a bit better.

As for the Rockets, lots of players had improved games. Danuel House and PJ Tucker both had good games, despite PJ scoring no points, his tough defense and rebounding was once again crucial in a Rockets win.

John Wall can still be a blur, and when the rust is off, will be lethal. Boogie Cousins looked a bit lost, but will still be helpful. Christian Wood is a revelation, and against less beefy center competition held his own, though Richaun Holmes little push shot baffled him tonight.

Eric Gordon looked good on both sides of the floor. Jae’sean Tate is a bundle of menacing energy. Sterling Brown’s shot looks good, and he looks utterly at sea on defense. David Nwaba’s minutes probably gave way to Eric Gordon, though we may see him as opposed to Brown, on Saturday.

We, thankfully, saw no Bruno Caboclo, nor Broderic Thomas, minutes. I’d like to see them in favorable blowouts only.

James Harden continues to be the straw that stirs the drink in Houston, though. His late-game offense sealed the win. James Harden is the only player I can recall whose scoring average DROPS when he scores 33 points.

In any case, the next Rockets game will be in 2021, and we may all hope for a much better year to come.

Poll

Feeling Blue (Rockets uniforms)?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Yes. A bold statement of Oiler support.
    (100 votes)
  • 22%
    No. They leave me sad. Disgruntled. Nonplussed. Out of sorts. Blue, even.
    (58 votes)
  • 37%
    They’re fine for Dallas, I guess. They can have them.
    (95 votes)
253 votes total Vote Now