“4-0 that’s the way it goes.”
The Houston Rockets have now officially completed an early April road trip with a 4-0 record.
The Rockets who find themselves fighting for position in the competitive Western Conference, have peaked at the right time. With only nine games remaining this season, the Rockets have put together a fantastic playoff push for Red Nation viewers.
The road trip has defined what most Rockets fans already knew; the Rockets deserve to be in the playoffs. The team continues to fight hard every single night, and have proven they can beat teams who are considered to be top tier foes.
What Rockets fans have seen on this road trip has been undoubtedly special. The team work, the chemistry, and the heart to win, has led this Rockets team to success. The players are clearly on the same page, the coaching staff couldn’t be happier, and via tweets from @johnhollinger Daryl Morey can’t stay in his seat! (Ya I was jumping around as well Mr. Morey.)
The thing about this Rockets team is they give you something to appreciate. It’s not the superstar+role players mold. It’s a cohesive team effort, where each player accepts a certain amount of responsibility. The great thing about it is, Rockets first year head coach Kevin McHale seems to embrace the concept. While at times its been a rocky road, the chemistry on this team in undeniably impressive. It seems like players appreciate the opportunity, and return the favor in strides. It’s a unique twist, on the norm in the NBA. As much as having a superstar is essential, you have to appreciate what the Rockets are doing right now as a group.
The Rockets opened up the road trip against the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are currently 22-6 at home, ya they are pretty good. That didn’t stop this pesky bunch from stealing a victory at the United Center. The Rockets ran into a major skid in the second quarter that saw the Bulls outscore the Rockets 29-14. The Rockets wasted no time in flipping the script in the 3rd, by having a 31-19 quarter, and eventually winning the game 99-93 in front of 21,000 Bulls fans. Luis Scola had a fantastic night, scoring 18 points, and pulling down 12 rebounds. Marcus “The Camby Man Can” pulled down 11 rebounds with the one working hand he currently has.
But of course the common theme on this road trip was Goran Dragic. Dragic who was recently honored with the well deserved Western Conference Player of the Week award, had 21 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals in that epic Bulls victory.
The next stop was in LA, against the dreaded Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers also boast an impressive 23-6 record at home. Once again this didn’t intimidate the Rockets. Just as the Bulls game played out, the Rockets were miserably outscored in the second 35-21, and flipped the script yet again in the third, outscoring the Lakers 34-22. A stellar performance once again from “Gogi” who scored 26 points, and dished out 11 assists, led the Rockets to a 112-107 win in La La Land. Another consistent I would like to point out is Marcus Camby, who once again pulled down 11 huge rebounds. The two headed monster of Camby, and Samuel Dalembert combined for 24 points, and 17 rebounds. The Rockets threw surprise rookie sensation Chandler Parsons, and Courtney Lee at Kobe Bryant all night, making his task a difficult one. The best part of the night was when the cameras panned over at the Rockets bench, as Andrew Bynum was ejected from the game. Priceless faces, and a priceless win.
The Rockets didn’t have to travel far for their next opponent. The Sacramento Kings, who on paper had no business beating the Rockets, lived up to the assumption. The Rockets hit a bumpy stretch in the third, but wasted no time getting back on track. This time Courtney Lee took matters into his own hands, and ended the game with 25 points, and 4 steals. Goran Dragic who was in a giving mood, dished out 9 assists along with 15 points. Patrick Patterson joined the fun by pulling down 10 rebounds, and scoring 10 points for a solid double double, while Chase Budinger hit three timely three pointers. Six Rockets players were in double figures, leading to an easy 104-87 win. This was also extra special for Rockets fans, as Kyle Lowry who had been out with a scary bacterial infection made his way back. Lowry played 18 minutes, and dished out a productive 7 assists. After the game he told Matt Bullard, “I have a lot left in the tank.”
3-0 was nice, but the Rockets wanted to add the cherry on top. So why not finish the road trip with a win, at a place the Rockets really enjoyed winning at? The Portland Trail Blazers who are clearly rebuilding, once again had no business beating the Rockets. While they gave a valiant effort, the Rockets took care of business with a 94-89 win. Wondering who had a good game? Do you even have to ask? Goran “Gogi” Dragic ended the night with 22pts, 7 assists, and 2 steals, proving why he deserved Western Conference Player of the Week honors. Oh by the way, guess who pulled down 11 rebounds again? “The Camby Man Can,” can’t you just hear Red Nation humming that? Courtney Lee, and Chase Budinger were battling a flu bug, but they combined for 27 points, and some very timely three point baskets. As Lowry promised, he did have a lot left in the tank. In 23 minutes of play, Lowry went 5-6 from the court, scoring 13 points, along with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals, a very Lowry like stat line.
Just to put Goran Dragic’s spectacular numbers in perspective, here’s how it all adds up. During this four game road trip, Dragic scored 84 points, had 32 assists, made 8 three pointers, and ended it all with a measly 9 turnovers. I don’t know how to put Goran Dragic’s play into words. Stellar? Fantastic? Gogiriffic? Call it what you please, but appreciate it in all its glory.
After the game against the Blazers, Dragic told Matt Bullard, “I was working all my life to get this opportunity, I’m really happy right now, and I’m gonna fight to the end!”
It won’t be easy keeping Dragic in a Rockets uniform. He is a unrestricted free agent next year, meaning the dollar bills are headed his way. The Rockets have made it no secret they will do what it takes to retain him, but as we have seen in the past, it’s never as easy as it sounds. Until that time comes, Rockets fans have a lot to look forward too.
The Rockets have gone above and beyond during this road trip, and for that I thank them. Like many of you, I am a die hard Rockets fan, and the playoff push they have put together has been some of the best basketball I have seen in a long time. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and show no signs of slowing down.
Red Nation you have a team that’s playing hard, and playing with pride, keep supporting these guys all the way through!