Your Houston Rockets are learning how to win. So much so that they now sit at the fifth-worst record in the league and for the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. Obviously taking the next step is important, but whether we want them to be good enough to miss out on generational talents Wemby and Scoot Henderson is another story.
Regardless, the Rockets took home a 132-123 doube overtime win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night, and they did it during James Harden’s homecoming. Despite letting Joel Embiid rampage for 39 points, Jalen Green and Keving Porter Jr. stepped up to the tune of 27 and 24 points respectively, with Green continuing his development as playmaker with 7 assists.
Jabari Smith Jr. also stepped up big late in the game and in OT after getting off to a slow start. He finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, and the guy is just a hooper, man. He knows how to do the little things that result in winning basketball, and as he continues to mature, he’s going to be such a major winning piece for this organization.
Tari Eason went bonkers off the bench. He finished with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals and kept the Rockets’ moving offensively at times under sheer force of will. He’s another guy who already knows how to make winning plays.
KJ Martin finished with 14 points, and he even challenged Embiid on several occasions, showcasing his fearlessness.
Alperen Sengun did struggle with Embiid, to no one’s suprise. He fouled out after playing 34 minutes, finishing with 8 points and 8 boards, but Bruno Fernando did provide some muscle with 6 points and 8 boards in 16 minutes matching up with Embiid. And then Embiid himsef fouled in the second OT frame.
Other than Embiid for Philly, Harden struggled in his return to H-town. He did put up 21 points, but he shot just 4-for-17 and committed 7 turnovers. The Rockets hounded him all night. But Tobias Harris was unconscious, pouring in 27 on 7-for-8 shooting from three.
The Rockets are now 7-17 on the season. Still not a good record, but you can see this team getting better and better as the season progresses. And that’s definitely a good thing. But how good of a thing with a generational draft on its way? Well, I’ll leave that up to y’all.