Well, it couldn't go on this way forever. Shockingly, a Houston Rockets team that brought virtually everyone back from last season's Western Conference finalist and added Ty Lawson found a way to make history in their first three games of this regular season. And not the good kind of history, either.
Three losses, each by an identical 20-point margin — that was the start to the Rockets' season, including a loss on Sunday night in Miami in which amazingly the Rockets actually led by 21 points in the third quarter and still managed to lose by 20 points. As polar opposite to the conventional wisdom as the season had played out in the first three games, it would stand to reason that the Rockets would get their first win of the season 24 hours after the debacle in Miami against undefeated Oklahoma City. The unlikely has turned into the likely with this team.
And so it was that the Rockets, behind 37 points from James Harden, outlasted the Thunder 110-105 on Monday night at Toyota Center.
Harden came into the game shooting 22 percent from the field, a dismal first week of the season that brought all of the ridiculous reality TV naysayers out of the woodwork trying to somehow blame the shooting slump on his relationship with Khloe Kardashian, as if clanked three pointers are some sort of sexually transmitted disease. On Monday night, Harden quieted those folks, at least for a night, with a 12-26 performance from the field, and a huge three pointer that capped a 7-1 stretch to make the score 108-100 in the final two minutes of the game.
Russell Westbrook knocked down a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left to make it 108-105, and Harden missed a three pointer on the other end. However, Westbrook and Kevin Durant both missed three pointers on the next possession, and Dwight Howard knocked down a pair of free throws with 5.7 seconds left to secure the victory. Howard finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.
"I'm sure all great shooters go through droughts," Harden said. "Mine was pretty terrible, I admit. But it will change. It will all come around. It's a long season and I'll go on five-, six-, ten-game streaks where I'm just on fire and it will even itself out."
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Additionally, the newly acquired Lawson had his first real breakout game as a Rocket, notching a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists. After the game, Lawson indicated that he changed his mentality to a more aggressive one than he showed in the first three games of the year, games in which he admitted he didn't want to step on toes. ""I feel like me not being aggressive was messing up the system," Lawson reflected.
The Rockets could have easily started the season 0-4, and while 1-3 certainly isn't pretty or optimal, Monday was a great reminder of what the team is capable of when its best player is making at least some shots. The Rockets now face an eight-game stretch in which they should be favored in all but one game:
Wed, Nov 4 vs Orlando
Fri, Nov 6 @ Sacramento
Sat, Nov 7 @ Los Angeles
Wed, Nov 11 vs Brooklyn
Fri, Nov 13 @ Denver
Sat, Nov 14 vs Dallas
Mon, Nov 16 vs Boston
Wed, Nov 18 vs Portland
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