HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – The Rockets were in need of an uplifting sign while facing the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.
Any positive would do.
The prospect of taking a long six-game road trip on a three-game losing streak could have crumbled an already fragile season. But the Rockets don’t have to worry about that after they put together their most complete effort in more than a week en route to defeating Phoenix 99-81 at Toyota Center.
There was a sense of relief afterward Friday that not only had the bleeding been stemmed but that the Rockets appeared to correct some of its defensive breakdowns that had dogged them in losing three of four heading into Friday night.
“This was a huge win,” said forward Chase Budinger. “Knowing we have a long road trip ahead of us, we had to get this one on the home court.
“This is going to be a tough road trip for us but if we are all on the same page we will all come out alive and do well.”
The Rockets could actually create some buzz again if they handle the road the way they handled the Suns. They solved some of their defensive meltdowns against the pick-n-roll while also getting a big push from the bench on the eve of a quick turnaround game Saturday night at Minnesota to start the six-game swing..
It’s hard to get too excited because the Suns are a wreck, but the Rockets did hold pick-n-roll specialist and two-time MVP Steve Nash in check (six points, nine assists, four turnover), while getting 50 points from their five-man bench with Courtney Lee, Patrick Patterson and Budinger all contributing 12 points each. Goran Dragic rounded out the double-digit scoring from the bench with 10 points.
Their production gave the Rockets a total of seven players in double figures with Kevin Martin leading the way with 16 points on a night he logged just 17:40 minutes and didn’t need to play any in the fourth.
“(The bench) huge when we come out of the game we don’t miss a beat when those guys are playing well,” said Chandler Parsons, who finished the night with 10 points. “That’s what we have to continue to do, we have to keep throwing different rotations at them and different lineups. With the hectic schedule we have the deeper we can go the better.”
The Rockets reserves played a key role in just about every facet Friday night, which included big efforts defensively and on the boards. Phoenix was limited to just 41 percent shooting and were outrebounded 49-39.
In addition to Budinger’s points, he also 10 rebounds and Patterson added seven boards on a night the Rockets were clearly more active.
“Anytime Chase goes out and gets 10 rebounds in 27 minutes and Patrick goes out and gets seven rebounds in 23 minutes your reserves are bouncy and they are rebounding,” McHale said.
It all creates a great deal of hope and positive feelings as the Rockets head into a critical juncture of their schedule. All of the pieces seemed to fall in place at a time they needed it most.
“I’ve said all year long, we are going to ebb and flow at different times of the year,” said McHale, whose team held the lead since early in the first quarter and led by as many as 23 points against the Suns. “We have a six-game road trip coming up and we have good ball movement, good defense and go out there and find a way to in our share of these games.”