The good guys have now won three in a row; that's a winning streak I believe! The Rockets took care of the LA Clippers last night despite Elton Brand playing his first home game of the season. They played a brand of basketball not seen since the days of the streak. Every time LA closed the game to 11 or 12, the Rockets took it as a personal insult. Each mini run by the Clippers put Houston in lock down defense mode and they eventually blew the some cannon ball sized holes in the Clips.
In the second half I became somewhat nervous as the Clippers whittled away a bit at the once 20 point half time lead; getting it down to a respectable 13 points by the end of the third. The Rockets have not been playing consistent second halves as of late and while I knew they were going to win the game, deep down the possibility of a less than stellar outcome nagged at me. The fourth quarter put my mind at ease, helping me get to sleep later than night as I wouldn't be up late trying to see where it went wrong. Houston pushed it to 20 within 5 minutes of the quarter beginning and never looked back, sending the Clippers to their 54th loss of the season and winning the first two games between the two by an average of 21.5 points.
There were many encouraging items from the victory, let's break them down list style, and in no particular order:
- Tracy took less than 20 shots on a night he wasn't shooting well, instead of shooting more he dished out 9 assists and added 8 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block, thank you Tracy, it is appreciated
- For the first time in a few weeks, when the reserves came in they extended the lead. This is how we had so many double digit wins during the streak, and it was nice to see it again
- Luis Scola was 4-5 from the field and 8-10 from the line for 15 points and 5 rebounds. He was stellar early on and was able to rest a bit late in the blowout. Scola has seemingly found his way at the free throw line, now if he can add his 15-17 foot jumper back in he could be a complete force in the playoffs. He's too good of a shooter to keep doubting himself from out there
- Carl Landry dunked, I can't remember the last time he did that. Hopefully the knee is starting to heal, we need the old pick and roll to the rack back
- Luther Head looked confident taking the ball to the basket, it was a nice site to see. He's better than he's played this year, and it would be nice to see that more
- Shane Battier held Al Thornton to 4-13 shooting and thoroughly frustrated the rookie all game. He's is the Defensive Player of the year, it's not even arguable
- Aaron Brooks showed why he has so much promise, putting up 18 points on 7-9 shooting and adding 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 0 turnovers
- The ball movement was a thing of beauty. They didn't chunk a lot of shots up early in the clock and looked for the open shot on just about every possession. When it was evident TMac wasn't going to make it to the game for long stretches, Tracy set the tempo with his passing. He shot a few too many threes, but mostly played within the offensive flow
- Playoff spot clinched - For the commenters that have said "stay tuned" to the Rockets not making the playoffs, where are you now? The Rockets are in, and currently have the 6th best record in the entire NBA and are 2 games back of 3rd place (first place in the west). Not too shabby
- 6 players were in double figures and Dikembe was one missed dunk away from joining them. The scoring distribution was fantastic
Overall I enjoyed watching this game, and that's a huge plus in a blowout. The team moved well without the ball no matter what the score was and that is very encouraging coming up on the playoffs. Next up for the Rockets the Seattle/OKCity Durants on Wednesday at 7:30PM CST in Houston. My wife and I will be there, I'm looking forward to TMac showing up to play KD again.