Houston Rockets: How the team fared in ‘A Whole New Game’

Houston Rockets guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets took the court for the first time in four months and it was refreshing to see amid a global pandemic. What were the highs and lows?

A lot has happened since the Houston Rockets last stepped on an NBA court which was back March 10. A worldwide pandemic, the loss of many loved ones, the Black Lives Matter movement, and social injustice outcries, it’s safe to say we really are living in a whole new world and what better to bring positivity back into our lives, then the return of the NBA. Basketball is back baby, and it has been missed for far too long.

The NBA has done an amazing job controlling the COVID-19 virus in their tightly-wound bubble, despite all of the conflicting opinions of its success. Although it raised concern for Rockets’ fans when not only Russell Westbrook, but James Harden as well, weren’t seen on the initial flight to Orlando, those two finally made their way to Walt Disney World safely, and coronavirus-free.

Alas, the boys stepped back onto the court after a very long four months, at a different court with more stranger surroundings than they were used to.

Tonight, the Houston Rockets took on the Toronto Raptors in the first of their three scrimmages in the bubble. With the NBA’s #AWholeNewGame movement in effect, we saw for the first time exactly what that entails. The fans were replaced with LED screens surrounding the court, the coaches were required to wear masks the whole game, the sideline benches were used to seeing were replaced with marked rows of seats for each player, which demonstrates that we’re in a new “normal” for the NBA.

Despite all of the changes, it didn’t stop the guys from eagerly taking the floor again. With the Rockets practicing just twice with a complete squad, you could tell they were thrilled to be playing

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against someone other than themselves for a change. This is the first time in a while that we have seen a completely healthy Rockets’ roster, despite Austin Rivers who left the bubble a few hours prior to tend to a family emergency.

The first quarter was nothing short of a roller coaster, the guys were making shots, missing easy shots, and had defensive mistakes, sloppy to say the least, but not having played in four months, it was more than expected. They ended the first 10-minute quarter leading the Toronto Raptors 29-22.  The league will move back to 12-minute quarters starting next week but they want these scrimmages to move much faster than usual.

In the second quarter, we started to see the small ball crew we’re familiar with.  And man, those boys were hooping!  Harden sank multiple deep threes, Eric Gordon had multiple clutch shots, and P.J. Tucker was phenomenal from the corner. They ended the second quarter and went to half time, tied at 49-all.

The last two quarters weren’t as exciting as Mike D’Antoni slowly started filtering out the starters, as well as the strong role players and they ended up falling to the Raptors 94-83.

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Despite the score that stood on the board, the Houston Rockets played a phenomenal first game back, they showed a lot of the potential and momentum that they had before the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to the season.

The Houston Rockets continue to show every day that they own the small ball lineup play, and despite the terrible things going on around them, they’re still all on one mission.