Well, well, well. Would you look at that? Your Houston Rockets have won two in a row after hanging on to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-106. What is most gratifying about this victory is that they managed to not implode after blowing a nine point halftime lead and entering the fourth quarter down two.
This win featured a stat that I’m not sure I quite comprehend at the moment. Both teams combined for 49 offensive rebounds, a season high in the league. That’s a positive and a negative considering it was just about split down the middle with the Thunder edging the Rockets 25-24 in the category. Kudos on the second effort, but shame on the general awareness to box out.
Leading the charge for the Rockets was the best rookie on the court tonight, Tari Eason. He imposed his will as he contributed a career high 20 points along with 13 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks in only 19 minutes. 12 of those boards were on the offensive side. The last Rockets’ rookie to do that was formerly addressed as ‘Akeem’. Four of those rebounds came on a hilarious, yet rewarding sequence in the fourth that led to an and-1 opportunity. It truly embodies the tenacity of Tari.
Even without Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., the Rockets were once again able to pull out a win. Eric Gordon led the way with 25 points on 8-for-17 shooting. In consecutive games, he has gone for 24 and 25 on the same shooting splits. Perhaps his trade value has gone up, even just a tad.
Alperen Şengün wasn’t as dominant as he has been in past games, but he still managed to notch another double-double, 10 and 12 along with 3 blocks. Kenyon Martin Jr. continued playing the part of Mr. Reliable as he gave us 18/7/4. There was also a Josh Christopher sighting. He provided 11 off of the bench.
Also of note, Jabari Smith Jr. beelined it to the tunnel in the second half after taking a shot to the hip. Let’s hope that’s nothing too serious going forward.
As for my pregame worries of total Shai Gilgeous-Alexander dominance, well let’s just say that was put on pause. Houston held him to 24 points on 7-for-23 shooting, which is ideal in just about any circumstance. Anytime you can make it difficult on the opposing team’s star you most certainly jump at that.
Was this the best win ever? No. However, the resolve showed by tonight’s unit was definitely something that we haven’t always seen in recent times. I’ll take it!