The Houston Rockets came into the first back-to-back games with the Sacramento Kings after securing their first win of the season against the Charlotte Hornets. The Rockets were facing a Kings team missing DeAron Fox, who was out with an injured ankle. The Rockets were also missing a key player in their rotation, as Amen Thompson will miss possibly a few weeks with an injured ankle of his own.
Rockets came out aggressive from the start
The Rockets haven't been known for the fast starts this season, but from the tip, the Rockets were extremely aggressive. Jabari Smith Jr. scored a quick eight points in the first four minutes as the Rockets got out to a 22-8 lead. Dillon Brooks, Alperen Sengun and Jalen Green all joined in the offensive barrage in the first quarter, as the three players were a combined 6-for-7 from the field.
The Rockets shot 56.5 percent from the field and 5-for-10 from three-point range. Jae' Sean Tate came off the bench and made his first two shots. The Rockets were also aggressive on defense, forcing five turnovers in the first quarter. Active hands, and they were fighting hard over screens.
Dillon Brooks continues to be the Rockets’ best two-way player
During the offseason, the running joke was that no one would sign Brooks to a contract and that he may end up in China after his lackluster playoff performance. Fans and media widely mocked the Rockets after they gave Brooks a four-year, $80 million guarantee contract.
Well, through five games, he has not only been the Rockets best defender, which is no surprise, but he has also been the Rockets best shooter, which has surprised a lot of people. In the first half, Brooks shot 4-for-5 from the field and played under control.
In the third quarter, the entire team struggled as the Rockets went 3-for-23 in the third, so no one was scoring for the Rockets in that quarter. The fourth quarter was a different story, and Brooks led the way.
Brooks went 5-for-5, which included this dagger three from the corner as he blew a kiss and helped put the game away.
Dillon the Closer on 26 points after the step back 3 pic.twitter.com/IxItQn1gRj— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) November 5, 2023
Brooks has been everything the Rockets wanted and more. His defense is no surprise, but shooting 12-for-20 from three-point range has been one of the biggest surprises of the season.
Unlike last season, the Rockets can weather their offensive drought
Rockets controlled most of the game through two and a half quarters, and the third quarter happened. The Rockets have been prone to offensive lapses all season, and that was no more evident than in the third quarter. The Rockets started the quarter 3-for-17 and only had five points in the first eight minutes of the quarter.
The Rockets couldn't buy a basket in the third as they scored only 12 points in the third quarter. One reason they were able to withstand the horrible shooting was their defense. Yes, their defense stepped up, something that Rockets fans have not seen in the last three seasons. They held the Kings to 15 points in the quarter. The defense can cover up a lot of offensive flaws, and that showed tonight.
The defense stepped up in the third, and that allowed the offense to step up in the fourth. The Rockets put the game away in the fourth, scoring 36 points as Brooks and VanVleet closed the Kings out late in the fourth. In previous seasons, when the Rockets faced adversity, they usually folded, but tonight, the Rockets were able to stay in the game by playing lockdown defense in the third quarter.
Rockets still have a long way to go as they build chemistry and form their identity. Tonight's win, however, is a step in the right direction. The Rockets started 1-9 last season and have already surpassed their win total in only five games. The Rockets take on the Kings again on Monday as they go for their third straight victory.