Writer: Lucas Garza
The Houston Rockets have now won eight games in a row, and Chris Paul has been back in the lineup for all eight games. With Chris Paul playing, the Rockets are 9-0, and boasts a 19-4 record overall, leading the Western Conference. During their win streak, the Rockets have won every game by double digits, and have led by at least 20 at some point in the game. Houston’s main rotation has all been steadily producing, even Eric Gordon has been putting up 19 points a game in a shooting slump. Each game, the Rockets have come out of the gates quickly and ready to play, with an early lob from James Harden to Clint Capela usually happening within the first two minutes.
Mike D’Antoni’s run and gun offense has been working well for the Rockets, shooting 44 three pointers per game, and making nearly 37% of those. James Harden, Chris Paul, Ryan Anderson, and Luc Mbah a Moute are all shooting over 40% from downtown. Chris Paul has become a pass first point guard once again, knowing that he has the weapons of Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza to knock down shots beyond the arc. Clint Capela has become a physically stronger post player, making more baskets when fouled to avoid missed shots at the foul line. James Harden is putting up MVP type numbers once again, leading the league in both points and assists.
The Rockets’ bench has been a strong part of the team, and they do a good job when James Harden takes his break at the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th quarters. P.J. Tucker, who was anything but a shooter in college, has been making corner threes repeatedly all season, and of course is a strong defensive player. When healthy, Nene can give Capela a rest and wake up opposing players with his size and strength. Most of Eric Gordon’s outside shots haven’t been falling, but they do when he is wide open. He can also drive inside and hit the eight-foot floater. Luc Mbah a Moute is a fast defensive player, who has surprisingly helped the Rockets score as well.
The Rockets are two games into their three game West coast road trip. After playing the Trail Blazers in the Moda Center Saturday night, the Rockets head back to Houston for a seven game homestand without many days off. Besides the Spurs, the Rockets don’t have any opponents coming up that are too tough, and hopefully can keep their win streak going into the New Year.