From now on till the end of the regular season, every game counts, and if the Houston Rockets want to stay inside the group that makes the NBA playoffs, they’ll need more than just James Harden taking over and winning games late. With Jeremy Lin not playing above his average ability, Chandler Parsons stepped in to carry the torch.
The ending was left to Harden, scoring 11 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, giving them a 118-110 win over the Orlando Magic, winning after two straight losses and stopping a five game losing streak to the Magic. It was also the 19th time this season that they’ve score more than 115 points; their most such games in a single season since 21 in the 1990-91 season.
We can score on anybody. We’ve got to put all our effort, all our energy and the defensive end. We’ve got to be able to win games when we don’t score 100 points.
The Houston Rockets are now 2.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers with 22 games left to play in the season; the Lakers have 23, although it seems that the Utah Jazz and the Golden State Warriors are also going to be involved in the battle, hoping not to slide beneath that red line which means you’re out of the postseason.
The Rockets have been battling with the Oklahoma City Thunder all season for the most potent offense in the NBA, currently sitting at second place with 106.6 points per game, 0.1 points behind the Thunder. The difference is the defense – the Thunder keep teams at 97.2 points per game, while the Rockets allow 103.7 per game, the worst defense among teams in the playoff race, also giving teams the chance to make 46.1% from the field, also the worst among Western teams headed to the postseason.
We don’t have a great rhythm right no. We’ve been a team that’s kind of start and stop. You already know we’ve got to hit the start button here again and get some rhythm going. If we can get a couple wins, get our practice in tomorrow and can hopefully start something good.
Both Harden and Lin aren’t 100%. Harden, who finished with 24 points on 7-18 from the field added 7 rebounds and 8 assists, his banged up knee kept him from taking the shots he likes to take, forcing a few bad ones from the outside. Jeremy Lin with a bad ankle is visibly limited in his movement, finishing with 11 points and 5 assists, seemed to be avoiding taking too many shots, and spent more than usual on the bench, while Patrick Beverly enjoyed one of his best games of the season with 13 points and 6 assists, playing 22 minutes.
Chandler Parsons has been doing much better during the second half of the season, averaging 17 points per game through the month of February. He kept that streak going with 21 points on 3-7 from beyond the arc, as the Rockets once again finished with over 40% from beyond the arc, making 15 of their 32 shots.
The Lakers seem to be on the rise, and there’s more than a good chance that the last game of the season, when the Lakers host the Rockets on April 17, will be very very meaningful to the fate of both team’s season. The Rockets can’t afford to lose anyone at the moment, especially not James Harden, but knowing that the roster isn’t as short as some may think it is definitely helps takes the pressure off, even if it is by just a bit.