This win doesn’t completely make up for the long season, but it surely helps going home on a good note.
Your Houston Rockets secured a 21 point victory over the Denver Nuggets with a relentless fourth quarter burst that made the visitors tap out early. Entering the final frame in a near deadlock, the Rockets pushed their one point lead to double digits as they forced Nuggets’ Coach, Michael Malone, to call three timeouts.
Malone pulled a rusty Nikola Jokić, and the rest of the starters, with about five and a half minutes remaining, virtually signaling the waiving of the white flag. It’s worth noting that Malone may have decided to play it safely as Jokić has been nursing a calf injury, and due to Jamal Murray leaving the game after only nine minutes of action.
Nevertheless, it was a great night for Houston as just about anyone who touched the court gave a positive contribution.
Jalen Green led the way with 32 points on a misleading 12-for-27 night. He got off to a good start, but a rough third quarter skewed his shooting efficiency. Thankfully, he regained his rhythm as he was a large part of the unit that put their foot on Denver’s neck in the fourth quarter.
Big Alperen Şengün outplayed the reigning two-time MVP as he put up another stat sheet stuffing evening. His 20-10-7 and 3 steals performance came in stark contrast to the Joker’s 8 turnover affair.
Another bright sign was Kevin Porter Jr. as he continued his strong point guard play with 20 points and 9 assists.
Jabari Smith Jr. also played strong down in the trenches as his 5 offensive rebounds helped propel the Rockets forward. He finished with 16 and 10 for the game.
I’d have to say my favorite part of this game was the positive impact made by Josh Christopher and Tari Eason off of the bench. Their active hands played an integral role into creating numerous strips of a seemingly apathetic Jokić, which led to transition opportunities.
They combined for 21 points and 5 steals off of the bench, and it was apparent that their energy couldn’t be matched by a Nuggets team that simply couldn’t keep up in this game.
It’s been rewarding to see Jaygup be afforded extended opportunities as the season dwindles down. If he keeps showing the growth that he has lately, there’s no reason he shouldn’t have a larger role going into next season.
Overall, this was a gratifying treat for the many fans who have had unfortunately had to endure another season of hell. For as bad as Houston has been this year, they somehow managed to pull off upsets at home against the four best records in the league this season.
Also of note: The Rockets have now matched their 2021-22 win total with a chance to surpass it in the final two games on the road against the Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards.