The Houston Rockets are on a roll again, because of one man – James Harden playing his best basketball in the past few games, making everyone on the team, including Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons, look much better than usual.
After a very rough stretch for Harden & the Rockets in January, which included 7 straight losses and Harden shooting below 25% in certain games, a switch was made. The game is still Harden-focused, but the Rockets are spreading the floor much better and spreading the ball, which means Harden isn’t only looking out for his own numbers, a lot better than before.
I’m just focused on rallying these guys together, every single game. If I’m leading and showing my work ethic, they’ll follow.
In their sixth win of the last eight games, the Rockets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 118-103, which keeps the Blazers two games behind the Rockets in the Western playoff race. James Harden scored 35 points and added 11 assists, making it 35.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 9 assists for him over the last couple of games, while shooting 71.8% from the field. Yes, Harden, a man who settled for every tough jumper and shot he could get about a month ago, is the kind of efficient shooting all of a sudden.
Tonight was one of those where it’s just like he makes play after play after play. and then you look up and you realize, ‘Oh, he had a great game.’ You kind of take it for granted sometimes. He’s making shots and he’s making plays. You look at a guy with 35 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and (he) threw a steal in there. It was really impressive.
It’s hard to tell if Jeremy Lin is really bothered about becoming more of a spot up shooter, giving away more and more of his duties as a point guard to Harden, who gets to lead the ball and the attack every time the Rockets cross the halfway line. When he’s this hot, and it looks like every play he makes is the right one, there’s no arguing about this being the right kind of MO for the Rockets.
Jeremy Lin finished with 16 points, shooting 6-10 from the field, 2-3 from beyond the arc. Someone who’s been really thriving lately, since the Rockets made certain tweaks to their offense, is Chandler Parsons, who is averaging 18.3 points per game in February (14.5 this season), who scored 20 points while hitting four shots from beyond the arc. Parsons seems to be the man most enthusiastic about the Rockets’ recent success and changes, which have probably helped him, in an individual kind of way, more than the rest of the team.
Patrick Patterson has also been on a roll lately, averaging 16.8 points this month (11.4 this season) and his name is less and less mentioned when the trade deadline and the power-forward need the Rockets have are brough up. Patterson scored 16 points, shooting above 58% from the field in four of the Rockets’ last five games.
Streaky players, streaky superstars, streaky season. The Rockets aren’t a team that will make it far in the playoffs – not with their depth, not their personnel and not their style, which doesn’t hold up when the games slow down, and become more and more reliant on the ability of James Harden to make something out of nothing. But for the regular season? It’s not only good enough for wins and being the highest scoring team in the NBA, but it actually looks like they’re having fun.