It took four chances to get here, but now the Houston Rockets can finally say they won a game. Bolstered by a much needed three-point barrage, the Rockets secured a 128-119 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.
This game featured numerous ebbs and flows, but Houston was ultimately able to outpace the Hornets until the end. A 21-for-37 shooting night from behind the arc highlighted the potential this team could have going forward after being plagued with below average shooting the past few seasons.
Each starter on the Rockets scored over 15 points on the evening with Jalen Green’s 23 leading the way. Green hit some timely jumpers and also converted on all of his free throws down the stretch to help thwart Charlotte’s comeback attempt.
However, the brightest performance of the night came from Green’s backcourt mate, Fred VanVleet. VanVleet stepped up early with some long-range shotmaking to get the Rockets out to a 12-point lead at the end of the first quarter. He hit all five of his three-point attempts in the first half as part of his 22 point and 11 assist outing.
Dillon Brooks, Houston’s other major signing this offseason, also continued to play an integral part as he chipped in 20 points of his own on 3-for-3 3PT. Even more important than that were his five steals that he plucked through Charlotte’s passing lanes. This was almost the perfect game for Brooks had he not had seven turnovers. There were far too many lazy passes to unaware teammates for my liking.
Alperen Sengun continued his strong start to the season with 19 points 7 rebounds and 4 assists. My favorite part of Alpy’s game tonight was 1) when he took his one and only three without hesitation and 2) the numerous amount of times he used his body to bury Mark Williams under the rim. He also pulled off another no-look gem tonight as he set up Jabari Smith Jr. for an easy two on the baseline cut.
Speaking of Bari, he had his most efficient shooting night as he went 7-of-10 from the field to chip in a helpful 17. Overall, this was a copybook performance from the starting five, and based on the condition of bench, it may be required going forward.
About the bench...
It’s been a sore spot early in the season and tonight didn’t make it any easier. Jeff Green led the way with a vintage 9 points tonight. Jock Landale looked meh in his return from a concussion. Jae’Sean Tate tried, but he’s also undersized. And to make things tougher, Amen Thompson sprained his ankle on a nasty roll.
How long Amen will be out is still to be determined, but the margin for error only gets smaller with him and Tari Eason still injured. If there’s one glimmer of hope out there, it’s that Aaron Holiday was able to produce in emergency duty tonight. We’ll see how Udoka decides to play it while Thompson is out, but Holiday can work as the backup point if he can continue to provide solid defense and shooting.
As for what I observed with the Hornets, it looks a lot similar to what I’ve seen the past few years. They have a lot of players that I like, but they’re still not close. PJ Washington, LaMelo Ball, Williams, Nick Richards and Brandon Miller are all certainly pieces, I’m just not sure what Charlotte is doing over there.
And yes, while the Rangers may have also won tonight, the city of Houston took the first step to bouncing back this evening.
The road to 79-3 begins.