Just when everyone believed the Rockets had turned the corner, riding a five-game winning streak, they shifted into reverse following back-to-back bad losses. With the loss last Saturday, the Rockets dropped to a mediocre 9-9 (10-11 now). Chris Paul did not play in Saturday’s game, but do you really need CP3 to help you get by the now 4-17 Cavaliers? The loss Saturday was a result of when you do not respect your opponent; the Cavaliers never felt they were out the game, as a result, were able to steal it.
From the opening tip to the end, the Rockets were simply outplayed, and outhustled by the Cavaliers. Statistically, tonight's game was a matchup between 2 of the worst rebounding teams in the league. Still, Houston was dominated on the boards 49-30. To further detail how much this was a disaster for the Rockets, only Gerald Green and PJ Tucker finished with a positive +/- on the court tonight, this including Harden dropping 40 points.
The big question around Toyota Center, is Chris Paul the Rockets real MVP? Including Games 6 and 7 of the western conference finals, the Rockets are winless in the last five games Chris Paul has been out the lineup. With Paul, the Rockets have a floor general, a guy who demands a lot from his teammates and gets the best out of what he is surrounded by. I think James Harden is a top 5 player talent wise, and am glad he finally got his MVP a year ago.
Outside of putting up huge numbers, the Rockets need Harden to be as much of a leader as Paul is, even more so when Paul isn't in the lineup. I am not advocating any idea of trading Harden, but if the Rockets are going to have a great season, they need more from their reigning MVP.
Most people probably don't peak at the standings until the New Year, I do. Spoiler alert, the Golden State Warriors are the number one seed. Houston currently on the outside looking in, just three games back of the top 4 in the West with 64 games left. Even though there is plenty of seasons left, being in the tough western conference, the Rockets need to re-find the groove they had in their win streak; to
climb up the standings soon. Otherwise, Houston could be left scrapping their way to the 7th, or 8th seed a possible early postseason match up with the Warriors.
While the Rockets took five steps towards contention during their five-game win streak, falling back to 500 has Houston taking two steps back. The Rockets look to get back above 500 when they take on the 7-12 Washington Wizards at Washington tomorrow night.
Stats from NBA.com