Clear the Launching Pad
The Rockets have taken off since the All-Star break by winning six in a row
Brian Barefield | 3/8/2019, 9:45 a.m.
Don’t look now, but the Houston Rockets have quietly put together a quiet six-game winning streak. Their second longest streak this season. With all the attention focused on James Harden’s 30-point plus game coming to an end against the Atlanta Hawks, the Rockets have just gone about their business by making up ground in the Western Conference. They are currently in third place in the playoff standings and that means a lot from a team that was in 14th place earlier in the season.
“It’s huge for us,” Rookie forward Gary Clark said after scoring 14 points against the Miami Heat (to win their fourth game in a row). “We have struggled all season with injuries and closing out games so for us to get this one tonight was huge.”
The streak started against the reigning NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors without their superstar, James Harden. Houston defeated them 118-112 and had total control the entire game. It was refreshing to see the team step up in the absence of Harden, but veteran point guard Chris Paul wants more than just a regular season win against these guys.
"You can come in here and win on a Monday night in February or a Tuesday night in November or December," Paul said. "But in the playoffs is when you have to beat a team four out of seven times. It's great tonight that we won this but in two days y'all will forget this."
That Warriors game also produced a milestone for Paul. The future Hall of Fame point guard passed the 9,000 mark in assist.
"When you get assists, I've got the easy part. I just pass it," Paul said. "The other guys are the ones who have to make the shots."
Speaking of guys who have been doing their job and knocking down shots. Forward Gerald Green has really given the Rockets a spark off of the bench with his offense and defense. He is currently averaging double digits in points during this streak and had 18 crucial points (11 in the fourth quarter) against the second-best team in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors.
Players like Green aren’t forgotten by the leaders of the team (Paul, Harden) as they know that their teammates are very important in order to make a championship run. In the aforementioned win over the Raptors, Harden was having a very bad three quarters (16 points) and the Rockets surrendered a 21-point lead before Harden went off for 19 points in the fourth and finish with a game high 35 points to seal the win. But he knows that it was the play of the second unit that kept them afloat.
"Our second unit did an unbelievable job of getting stops and creating opportunities on offense, and that was the game," said Harden who went over the 18,000 points in his career on Tuesday.
The Rockets look to extend their winning streak to seven games tonight against another good team from the Eastern Conference in the Philadelphia 76ers. If they do they will be creeping their way up further in the standings to try and land at least the second spot in the West behind the Golden State Warriors.