The Houston Rockets came into tonight's matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder looking to snap their three-game losing streak. The Rockets came in the game shorthanded with Jeff Green( Personal reasons) and Jock Landale (illness) out for the Wednesday game.
The Rockets came out aggressive from the start leading midway through the first quarter 22-13 after a beautiful spend move by Alperen Sengun that forced a Thunder timeout. Jalen Green was extremely aggressive at the start. I asked Coach Udoka pregame what it would take for Green to be more consistent, and this was his response.
I asked Coach Udoka what is the key for Jalen Green to become more consistent— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) December 6, 2023
“For him it is not to take a backseat regardless of who is on the court” pic.twitter.com/sUwENgsTz5
As you can see Coach Udoka has not lost confidence in Green and wants him to be more aggressive and Green seemed to listen to his coach as he finished the first quarter with 9 points and 4 rebounds. Rockets led after one 32-22 after Green falling down buzzer-beating jumper.
The game slowed down in the second quarter as the Rockets offense could only manage 23 points and was outscored 28-23 in the second. Sengun led the Rockets with 14 at the half as he outplayed Chet Holmgren through the first two quarters. Rockets took a five-point lead going into the half.
The one thing I have noticed the most at the games is the amount of time Udoka spends talking to players individually during stoppages of play or coming out of a timeout. He is constantly communicating and giving instructions at every opportunity.
In the third quarter, the Rockets came out fast as they took a 63-50 lead after Dillon Brooks and one. The Thunder slowly got back in the game as the Rockets had several turnovers that led to easy baskets. The Rockets would go into the fourth with a six-point lead as the teams swapped baskets for the last few minutes of the quarter.
The fourth quarter was the Aaron Holiday show. Holiday who has been one of the biggest surprises of the season had his best game as a Rocket. Holiday finished with 22 points and tied a career-high in three-pointers made with 6. Holiday scored 14 of his 22 in the final quarter including three from downtown. Holiday talked about his teammates getting him the ball and how it doesn't matter who gets the shots on the team as long as they get the win.
Aaron Holiday tied a career high with 6 3 pointers made in Wednesday win. One of the biggest differences I have noticed from last season to this season is no one cares who gets the shots long as they get the win.— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) December 7, 2023
In almost every interview the players make a point of this. pic.twitter.com/Z0dji3rhfm
That has been a common theme all season for the Rockets as player after player has said that it doesn't matter who scores because it is all about winning the game. We have seen everyone from Alperen Sengun to Jeff Green have big nights for the Rockets and that continued last night with Holiday having a big game.
The Rockets pulled away early in the fourth and never looked back as they cruised to a 110-101 victory over the Thunder who came in as the second-best team in the Western Conference. Rockets held Chet Holmgren to a career-low four points and held the Thunder to a season-low eight three-pointers made.
Jabari Smith also had a huge impact on the game. He finished with a career-high 18 rebounds as he spent some time at center in the absence of Landale and Green. I asked Smith how comfortable he was playing some backup center.
Jabari Smith had a career high 18 rebounds tonight. I asked him how comfortable is he playing back up 5 minutes— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) December 7, 2023
“Its something I can definitely do especially when teams play small” pic.twitter.com/u0gds2dm9u
Smith sacrificed his offensive production to fill a roll the Rockets needed help at and that was a big reason for the Rockets dominance on the boards in Wednesday's win. The Rockets are back on the road Friday as they take on the Denver Nuggets for the fourth and final time in the regular season.
To see all the post-game interviews. Head over to my YouTube page Rocket Fuel Podcast.