The Houston Rockets have played magnificently on their current road trip. When it seemed like they were perfectly set to hit a very tough stretch. They started the longest road trip of the season with a loss to the suddenly feisty Minnesota Timberwolves.
At that point the Rockets were 3-8 on the road with five games left on the trip and at 13-11 on the season it seemed like the positive progress that the rockets had made was in danger of slipping away.
When the Rockets best scorer and biggest free-agent acquisition both disappeared against the Denver Nuggets it seems unreasonable for fans to ask them to win, but they did. Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry both stepped up and had big games to lead the team to a rare road victory.
Then the entire starting lineup fell apart against the Blazers, but the bench stepped up. Led by Chase Budinger’s 22 points, the bench took over and injected energy and desire into a team that was lacking both in the third game of a road trip.
The Rockets found a way to beat the Phoenix Suns when almost the entire team came together to show that they were greater than the sum of their parts. Goran Dragic had one of his best games against his former team when he scored 11 points and dished out 11 assists.
But the real story was that there were seven players that had scored in double-digits. That did not include Martin who finished the game with two points in 13 minutes and a large question mark about what was going on with him.
The magic ran out against the Golden State Warriors in their fifth road game in nine days. What is odd is that it is the first game that this was the first game where the Rockets big three of Martin, Scola and Lowry played well enough to win and received a big boost from Samuel Dalembert.
However, the game was sloppy from beginning to end for the Rockets as a team and they simply couldn’t overcome their own mistakes and the hot-shooting home team. Every player that touched the floor turned the ball over, they totaled 19 turnovers.
The turnovers, combined with the Warriors shooting over 50 percent from the field, were simply too much for the Rockets to overcome, but there were positive signs for the Rockets to take from the game.
Kevin Martin found his shooting touch and dropped 28 points in 35 minutes. Dalembert also looked like he had checked back into the game mentally, physically, emotionally or whatever it was that he was lacking before.
Dalembert didn’t have the staying power that Martin had, playing just 21 minutes, but he started off hot with three blocks in the first quarter and undoubtedly changed the way the Warriors attacked the Rockets.
Martin led the team in turnovers, two of which came right out of the gate, but he pulled himself back together and out of the slump he has been in to hit three three-pointers in the first quarter.
Martin, however, did not get the support from the bench that the Rockets had been enjoying lately. In fact, the entire bench only outscored Martin by one and had their fair share of turnovers. The team also missed nine free throws in a game that they lost by nine.
The road trip can still be a success if the Rockets can beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday and finish the road trip with a 4-2 record. Even if they lose to the Grizzlies they will have doubled their number of road wins for the season on this trip and did not lose much space in the Western Conference standings.
The really good news is that following their longest road trip of the season is the longest home stand of the season. The Rockets will have six home games to make up any ground they have lost and to put them back into the top half of the Western Conference playoff picture.