Houston crashed the boards for a season high 67 rebounds tonight and that effort right there was enough to cement a wire-to-wire victory. Alperen Sengun led the way with 10 points and 16 boards as he relentlessly plucked the ball away from the Suns. His eighth double-double of the year ties his mark from his rookie year and it’s only December.
Tonight also marked the return of Coach Stephen Silas after his absence Sunday due to the passing of his father and NBA lifer, Paul Silas. It was a relief to get Coach a W on a night where his heart was surely heavy.
Here was Coach pregame talking about his dad:
"I'm very proud to be my dad's son"— AT&T SportsNet™ | SW (@ATTSportsNetSW) December 14, 2022
--Stephen Silas on his dad Paul Silas
The Rockets head coach returns tonight after missing Sunday's game due to the death of his father pic.twitter.com/vV2sFYP4Zy
Jalen Green made his mark at the free throw line going 11-12 as he led the team in scoring with 26. The rest of the starters also hit double digits in a fairly-balanced game.
The most encouraging stat line of the night goes to Jabari Smith Jr. who finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds on 4-5 FG (3-3 from 3PT). While those aren't gargantuan numbers, it was certainly encouraging to see the confidence and rhythm that he stepped into his limited shot opportunities with. Ideally he will get more looks going forward when his shot is clicking like this.
Houston got off to a quick start as Phoenix struggled to make consistent shots early on. The floodgates opened up in the second quarter as the Suns shot a putrid 3-24 from the field. It would be nice to attribute this all to the Rockets’ defense, but the Suns also were missing a handful of open looks.
Things got worse for Phoenix right before halftime as Deandre Ayton twisted his ankle crashing into Kevin Porter Jr. (18 and 5 assists). Originally called a foul on KPJ, the call was overturned into a charge after a coach’s challenge.
The Suns also were without Cam Payne in the second half after he departed due to injury. Payne was 3-4 from deep at that point and a big reason why the 19 point lead wasn’t even larger going into the intermission.
Phoenix cut into the Rockets’ lead in the fourth quarter and got it to as close as nine, but ultimately they couldn’t sustain a run significant enough to really put the result into question.
Neither team shot well tonight and despite Houston turning it over 23 times, in the end they outworked their opponent and capitalized more on their mistakes than the other way around.
Perhaps it’s hyperbole, but I’d like to think that the Rockets paid homage to their coach’s father in the best way possible. They went out there and got a blue collar victory by snatching rebounds and owning the boards just like the late great Paul Silas did in his playing days. Rest In Peace.