Well, that was refreshing, a palate cleanser after Minnesota opened the season walloping the Rockets. Tonight the Rockets got to play the Thunder.
The Rockets have established their dominance of the very lowest, rock bottom, submerged, non-elite, end of the NBA’s Western Conference by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 124-91 in a game that was precisely as close as that score would indicate.
Make no mistake, these are two bad teams. But the Rockets are the better bad team, and fairly clearly so. This could be because they still have some actual established NBA players.
Eric Gordon scored 22 points in 26 minutes on 7-14 shooting and 4-6 from three point range. Christian Wood scored 29pts on 12-18 shooting, and 4-6 from three as well, and grabbed 14 rebounds, had an assist, a steal, and three blocks. But Wood is hardly well-established, and the other veterans, Theis, House and Augustin had fairly forgettable outings.
No, the damage was done by the Nearest Future of the Future Rockets. The aforementioned Wood, and also Jae’Sean Tate, with a robust 16pts, 14rbs and 6ast in 28 minutes.
Kevin Porter Jr found better form as well, scoring 20pts on 8-17 shooting (which could have been better without some misguided early clock contested three pointers) and dished 9 assists to 2 turnovers.
Jalen Green struggled again, but some of that was due to some awful uncalled muggings at the basket. On one, Mike Muscala blocked Green by hitting him square in the face. On another Green had his legs taken out from under him. Both should have been shooting fouls at the very least, instead of “no calls”.
And then there’s Alperen Sengun, a 19 year old rookie who looks more like the steal of the draft (Thanks OKC! We know Presti love picks, but the Rockets love players, so it worked out! Sengun isn’t super athletic with no discernible offensive skills, or absurdly tall and skinny, so he doesn’t get Sam hot anyway.) Sengun is adapting to the NBA, he needs to get stronger, he needs to learn to shoot, he’s not as athletic as most guys he faces. And it doesn’t seem to matter. His stat line doesn’t look especially pretty, but he changes the game when he’s in it. He notched 6pts on 3-5 shooting, 4rbs, 1ast, 1stl, 2blk in 18 minutes, but he was such a general menace he changed the tenor of the contest. If he gets a reliable jump shot, he’ll be very special. He’s already fun.
There’s not a lot more to say. The Rockets tried hard on defense, some shots fell, and OKC is really terrible. That “We’re playing possum to get picks!” OKC narrative from last year? Over. The Thunder are straight repugnant. Worse than Rockets awful, which is pretty awful. Soon the Thunder will have 27 players with 2 years or less NBA experience and they will totally dominate franchise mode of 2K forever. Or they’ll trade for Michael Jordan. Present day Michael Jordan.
Anyway, don’t expect too many wins on the upcoming schedule. Keep the faith. It’s nice to win sometimes, but don’t get used to it.
Favorite player tonight?
This poll is closed
M Cuban drunk-dialing R Carlisle, begging him to come back home.