The Houston Rockets knew what they had to do coming into this game. They had to come out and put away the Cleveland Cavaliers. Although they didn’t blow them out like I predicted, they still got the job done.
In the first quarter the Rockets were firing from all cylinders. The Cavaliers starters were lost in space which led to a fast start from the Rockets. It didn’t take long before Cavaliers coach Mike Brown freed the bench to come to the rescue early on. If it weren’t for the bench, this could have turned into a nightmare for the Cavs. Coming into this game without key players was already bad enough. After the Rockets built an early lead, we all know no lead is safe. Cleveland never went away and only trailed by eight points at the end of 1. Chandler Parsons led the way with 11 points and Tyler Zeller had 9 points to lead the Cavs at the end of the first quarter. The Rockets led, 39-31.
As the second quarter rolled along, the Rockets kept making their shots while playing decent defense. We all know that James Harden would come alive at one point in this game. Sure enough he did. Heading into halftime, he had 20 points. Also getting in the action was Donatas Motiejunas. I can’t tell people enough on how Motiejunas has really stepped up his game this season. With playing time, he can strive off that bench. For the Cavaliers however, they kept on finding their own way to score. I should say their bench found a way. Everyone on the Cavaliers bench contributed to not let this game get away. At the half, the Rockets led 67-55.
Whenever you head to the third quarter, a team wants to “put them away”. The Cavaliers starters were back in the game and this time tried to stay in longer than a combined three minutes. It’s hard to do however when the Houston Rockets are in “full stride”. Harden was knocking down shot after shot and simply could not be stopped. It’s either you try to stay with him and not foul him, or let him run right past you and be ashamed. When Harden is rolling, the whole Rockets team is hard to stop. Everyone on the entire Cavs team had trouble stopping the Rockets. The Rockets had a little more room to breathe as they now head into the final period leading, 101-79.
Well, leading 101-79 may seem like a big margin, but it can really vanish if you don’t protect it. The Rockets’ bench got to play the whole 4th quarter, and all they had to was keep the lead safe. Throughout the quarter, the Rockets did not look like they were trying to protect the lead. The Cavaliers were within 9 with about three minutes left! Is McHale going to make the starters come back in? No. The starters did not come back in, but this game was closer than most Rockets fans would hope. Down the stretch, the Cavaliers could not execute on key possessions which really hurt them. Although the Rockets let the Cavaliers back in, the Rockets still hung on to win another important win. The Houston Rockets won 118-111.
Although this game was closer than most people would’ve thought, a win is a win. The Rockets now look to continue to keep up the success as they face the Charlotte Bobcats in Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday night. Don’t look now, but the Bobcats have been playing very good basketball as of late. That should be an interesting matchup. That game is scheduled to start at 6pm CST and can be seen on CSN Houston.