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Rockets leave it late, beat Pistons 112-110

Better Late Than Never

NBA: Houston Rockets at Detroit Pistons
Late Show
David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets looked intent on getting Detroit it’s 4th win, and heading into a back to back in Boston, against the NBA’s best team, having lost to the NBA’s worst team. Instead, the clawed their way back into the game late, with a little help from a bizarre Detroit inbounds violation

The Rockets started off the game lethargic, and the holes in the defense without Dillon Brooks especially, and Tari Eason, showing. Detroit shot well, and played harder as they gained confidence. The Pistons lead by seven after the first quarter, and by even more in the second. A furious run by the Rockets, and a strong first half from Jalen Green, helped level the score at halftime. Those watching probably assumed the burst of energy to close the half, combined with the “hair dryer” from Ime Udoka at halftime would see things righted in the second half.


The same listless Rockets came out, and Detroit found a way to keep its good first half shooting alive, but combine it with its plethora of bigs, against Houston’s, evidently, one big, Alperen Sengun. This is because Uncle Jeff Green, who does a good job pretending to be a center banged knees and didn’t return. Detroit exploited this lack of interior size and lead by three after the third.

The lead bounced around for Detroit, rising to double digits in the fourth, and it looked like the Pistons fourth win was within their grasp. Jalen Green’s great first half was echoed by its opposite, a miserable shooting second half.

The Pistons didn’t count on Alperen Sengun, Fred VanVleet and Jabari Smith refusing to lose it late. VanVleet made clutch shot after clutch shot late. Sengun worked his magic in the paint in the fourth, and Jabari had some key, tough, stops including a block very late.

The Rockets, who’d allowed 36 Detroit points in the third quarter allowed 24 in the fourth. Their clutch play late, combined with one fewer possession with the game winding down for Detroit on a bizarre baseline inbounds violation, gave the Rockets a narrow win.

It shouldn’t have been this close, but a win in a silly, listless, apathetic-looking game to the NBA’s worst record team is far better than a loss. The Rockets have now won both Battles of The Thompson Twins.

The Rockets lack of a playable back up big was highlighted by Jeff Green’s knee swelling up. This situation has to be fixed. Either Landale’s mullet will finally reappear, along with his basketball abilities, or the Rockets must trade for a useful center to pair with Sengun. Sengun playing 38 minutes, (and VanVleet 43) isn’t going to hold up. (Amen also needs to be at least handy at PG soon, as Aaron Holiday appears to have turned back into a pumpkin at midnight.)

The Rockets of course will now play Boston in Boston, where the Celtics haven’t lost all season. If there’s ever a schedule loss, this is it, which is fine, I guess, as Houston will be watching football anyway.

Wins that feel like losses are still better than actual losses.


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