Houston Rockets: This team could have a new sheriff in town

Houston Rockets guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets had an impressive decision over the Timberwolves last night indicating that there could be a new sheriff in town. What’s going on? Look.

Last night, the Houston Rockets took on the Minnesota Timberwolves in their first of four-game road trip, wearing their throwback ketchup and mustard jerseys. They were finally able to come out of their losing streak in the last game against the Denver Nuggets, with hopes of continuing with a win last night as well. The Rockets were finally a healthy team again, so there was no excuse as to why they couldn’t clinch a win against the Timberwolves.

The first quarter the Houston Rockets struggled to find a consistent flow and for the most part, were playing sloppy with the ball on offense. It was an odd start, Harden wasn’t really producing and didn’t have the energy he needs as a leader, but what he lacked, surprisingly Austin Rivers produced.

Russell Westbrook of course, as we’ve seen consistently for the last six games, bought the energy and drove to the basket every chance he could get. The Houston Rockets ended the first quarter being up by 10, with the score being 36-26. Rivers had a phenomenal 1st quarter coming off the bench ending the first quarter tying with Westbrook with 12 points each.

Eric Gordon knocked down a three to get the second quarter started. The guys had really good ball movement this quarter, but they just weren’t finishing their shots like they should have been. Rivers had his first missed shot but was still performing quite solid for the minutes he was getting. Eric Gordon hit a big three, making that 12 points for him just before the half.

The Houston Rockets were being very sloppy with the ball, they were being fast on offense thanks to Westbrook but slow on defense, taking their 10-point lead and trimming it down to just three at the half. The Rockets were not playing their best game up until this point, and it wasn’t pretty but it was still a win, the three dominating players so far were Westbrook, Rivers, and Gordon.

Westbrook started off the third quarter by driving to the basket and scoring on their first possession, hoping this would kick the momentum up a notch. Westbrook continued to dominate the lane and points he didn’t get from scoring, he was getting in free throws from creating contact.

The Timberwolves took the lead off a devastating turnover and it seemed as though the Wolves were the ones with the momentum that the Rockets were searching for.

Westbrook had 26 points with seven minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, with the rest of the Rockets having just eight points combined in the second half at that point. The Houston Rockets continued to have good ball movement, they were generating shots just couldn’t seem to finish them. Harden was seen taken back to the bike to relieve the pain from what looked like a bad charley horse that he got from defending Towns earlier in the game.

Harden continued to dominate the third quarter, and for those who were watching it was like watching a magic show, he’s such an amazing player to watch whether you’re a fan or not and even better to watch in person. Westbrook had secured this to be yet another 30+ point game with five minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.

McLemore finally woke up, and hit a big three at the end of the quarter, and after an amazingly executed alley-oop from Westbrook to Danuel House, it seemed as if the Rockets got their groove back. Rivers continued to have what was seeming to be an amazing game for himself, he got a big shot off, returned on defense to steal the ball back, then ran it in for another solid scoop in the bucket. At the end of the third, they were up by 10 again, and the score was 94-84.

Harden returned to the court in the fourth quarter, and it seemed like the energy was up for both teams. Gordon hit yet another three, making that 20 points overall so far. The Wolves had a few good runs, and it was a four-point game with nine minutes to go.

We were playing sloppy with the ball, and it turned into a two-point game quickly. Russ continued to push right through the Timberwolves’ defense and continued to score from attacking. With just three minutes to go, the margin was razor-thin with just a three-point difference.

Russ drove it in again, making his overall total so far 41 with time still on the clock. The fourth quarter could have easily been labeled the Westbrook takeover. Gordon hit a huge three and we

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were up 120-112 with just under three minutes to go. The Timberwolves were relentless last night and didn’t give up until the last minute was played. Despite the Wolves’ efforts, and our not so pretty play, the Rockets still managed to get the win with a 131-124 decision.

Westbrook had a season-high of 45 points as did Gordon with 27 points, and Austin Rivers had a more than formidable game, ending it with 16 points.. This was a huge game for the Rockets’ bench, with a combined total production of 51 points, more than doubling their usual scoring averages.

It’s safe to say that Westbrook has found his groove on the Rockets team, as for Harden I’m beginning to wonder if Westbrook is becoming the Rockets new “James Harden.” A few games back we thought Harden’s excuse for a bad game here or there was the result of a bad 2nd game of a double-header. As we continue through the season, it’s looking more like a seasonal slump for Harden rather than just a few bad games.

Next. Rockets: Harden and Westbrook's offensive efficiency at halfway mark. dark

When Westbrook first came to the Rockets the chemistry between them seemed to be unmatched, they were “The Beard and The Brodie,” dubbed as an unstoppable duo in the NBA, so what’s going on now? Is James intimidated by Westbrook’s record-breaking streak, or is he really in just a slump of his own?  I guess we will have to wait for a few more games to unravel but it’s nice to see the Rockets finally winning games with considerable help from their bench.