The Houston Rockets are becoming a scary sight for the rest of the NBA, having now won 10 straight games after their insane comeback against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.
Facing a 9-point deficit with only a minute left in regulation, the Rockets were able to storm back on a 11-2 run to force the game into overtime. Led by James Harden, and Patrick Beverley’s defensive effort, the Rockets came up clutch on their way to converting on 3 quick shots from 3-point distance. Harden led the offence masterfully, on his way to assisting on each one of those 3-pointers. The Rockets were on fire, and didn’t look back in OT; pushing themselves ahead to ultimately come away with a 111-109 victory.
The Rockets won their 10th straight game in heroic fashion, while proving what exactly they were capable of doing in a blink of an eye. With an analytical focus established by general manager Daryl Morey, and a high-tempo offence set by head coach Mike D’Antoni, the Rockets are becoming a force that can’t be stopped. They continued their style of play against the Timberwolves, setting a new Target Center record with 51 3-point attempts. They weren’t as efficient as the night before, when they broke the NBA’s record for most 3-pointers made with 24 to go along with the most attempts with 61. But they were able to make their shots when it truly mattered down the stretch.
Before the Rockets started raining 3s in the final minute of the 4th quarter, they shot 12-43 (27.9 3P%) from distance. That didn’t matter to Harden, with him finding his teammates down the stretch for 4 of their 3-pointers through the 4th quarter and OT, while also converting on one of his own as the Rockets shot a clutch 62.5 3P%.
Since beating the Golden State Warriors in double overtime on Dec. 1, the Rockets have been sticking to their long distance shooting. They’ve attempted at least 35 3-point attempts in 20 games this season, which is double the amount of games compared to the following team in the Cavaliers (10.) With the Rockets shooting the 4th highest 3-point percentage in the league at 38.1 3P%, they’ve found a formula for success; logging 14 straight games with at least 100 points. Their shooting has translated to success, with the Rockets now holding the 3rd seed in the Western Conference with a 21-7 record.
When the Rockets made it to the Western Conference Finals in the 2015 playoffs, they played a similar style. They pushed the ball up the floor for easy transition opportunities, and looked for 3-point shots while players like Harden and Dwight Howard sucked in the opposing team’s defence. It’s what helped them pull off one of their greatest comebacks in franchise history, when they fought back from a 3-1 hole against the Clippers in the second round of the 2015 playoffs.
Now behind coach D’Antoni, the Rockets’ offence looks like it’s received a dose of steroids. With Harden playing as their point guard, they’ve been able to become an offensive juggernaut, holding the 3rd highest offensive rating in the league behind the Raptors and Warriors. The “7 seconds or less” offence that coach D’Antoni made popular in his time with the Phoenix Suns, has been brought to life once again with the Rockets. At the moment, they only hold the league’s 9th fastest pace, but that’s because of Harden having the luxury to take his time and still work a pick-n-roll in a half court set.
James Harden has produced 232 threes through his shooting and passing. Excluding passes to one another, Curry and Klay have 224 combined.
— Kelly Scaletta (@KellyScaletta) December 18, 2016
D’Antoni’s influence on Harden has been incredible, with the Beard leading the league in assists with 11.8 a game, while also leading his team with 27.7 points. With the addition of players like Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon in free agency, the Rockets have added two offensive snipers; both averaging more than six 3-point attempts a game while shooting at least 40 3P%. Mix that in with a pair of defensive specialists in Patrick Beverley and Trevor Ariza, who are shooting at least 37 3P%, and Harden has a perfect set up around the perimeter to work his magic.
With a young centre in Clint Capela, and a veteran in Nene, the Rockets don’t feel pressured to run action down low like they did last year throughout their time with Howard. But when they do it’s still effective; with Capela averaging 11.8 points on 64 FG% thanks to Harden’s ability to run the pick-n-roll to perfection. When Harden isn’t finding his teammates, he’s dropping his own buckets with ease while still averaging 10.3 free throw attempts a game. Behind Harden’s leadership on the court, the Rockets have only failed to score 100 points a total of 3 times this season, but they still won 2 out of those 3 games while hitting the 90-mark They’ve found their momentum, and are now looking like the league’s most dangerous offence.
All stats for this article are from NBA.com
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