A win is a win, I’ll take it!
The Houston Rockets notched win 24 tonight as they survived Jalen Brunson’s late game heroics defeating the New York Knicks 105-103. This one came down right to the end as each team exchanged blows until the final buzzer. Ultimately, this game will be remembered for the controversial call at the end that resulted in Brunson fouling Aaron Holiday on a last second shot from deep.
This game was certainly worth the watch regardless of what discussions will come about from the last five seconds of this game. Houston looked to be in control in the first half as their defense stifled the Knicks with physical play. However, that pesky third quarter came around to nearly haunt the Rockets once more as the Knicks chipped away at the lead.
The Rockets appeared to have righted the ship in the fourth quarter as Alperen Sengun (18 points and 6 assists) stretched the lead back out, utilizing his elite vision to continually find the open man. Dillon Brooks (23 points on 6-of-7 from three) also came up huge in the final quarter as he hit a barrage of threes to keep the Knicks at bay.
Plus, how could we forget the marvelous performance from Holiday (18 points and the game-winning free throws) tonight. He kicked off the fourth quarter run with a deceptive dunk as part of his eight straight points.
I’d be remiss to not give kudos to the undermanned Knicks tonight. They looked exhausted out there, not out of the norm as Thibs played nearly four players 40 plus minutes, but they fought to the end. Their latest acquisition, Bojan Bogdanovic, gave them the boost they needed in the fourth as they were able to spell Brunson for a much needed breather.
Also of note were Precious Achiuwa’s 17 rebounds, Josh Hart’s 17-11-5, and Donte DiVincenzo’s 23. With that being said, it still wasn’t enough. They were definitely a man or two down tonight from flipping the result of this one, but I won’t complain about how this turned out.
In fact, despite the blown leads and flirtation with disaster, I’m damn happy about how this turned out. There was drama, there was progress, and a glimmer of the bright future.
Amen Thompson looked great again in the place of Fred VanVleet. 8 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals is what the doctor prescribed. The kid is a problem.
Jabari Smith Jr. showed flashes too with his 20 point and 7 rebound performance. The kid is a winner plain and simple.
Jalen Green (16 points on 8-of-9 from the free throw line) regressed to the mean following his first career triple-double, but I like that he continued to attack the rack. This may be a stretch, but had he settled for a long range shot instead of taking it to the rim — it was subsequently blocked and ricocheted out to Holiday — the game probably goes to overtime and the Rockets would have collapsed.
I guess we’ll never find out.