The Rockets made Monday night’s game opposite the Sacramento Kings much more entertaining than it probably should have been, there is no doubt about that. However, I’m not sure what expectations should be from here on out against even some of the lesser opponents in the league since the Rockets have no choice but to move forward without both Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin, not knowing if or when either will return this season.
While the Kings are much improved with point guard Isaiah Thomas running the show and Demarcus Cousins taking his game to another level since he had it out with former coach Paul Westphal earlier this season, there is really no excuse they should have run up and down on the Rockets the way they did last night. Nevertheless, the Rockets did what we have expected them to do, what they’ve become so good at over the last 3 years or so, they weathered the storm and clawed their way back and stole a game they shouldn’t have had to steal on their home court.
Houston is currently in a tie with the Jazz and Nuggets, all at 27-23 with 16 games remaining on the schedule. Houston can either sink or swim from this point on, as they are could very well find themselves on the outside looking in with their next loss, or smack dab in the middle of the western conference playoff seeding at the 5th seed if they steal a win in Dallas tonight and things break perfectly.
Over the last 5 games, since the acquisition of back up center Marcus Camby, no coincidence the Rockets have out rebounded their opponents since having struggled mightily the previous 15 games on the glass, losing most of those battles. He could be just what the Rockets need down the stretch in terms of creating mismatches defensively, for teams that choose to go small toward the end of games, like the Rockets have done a lot this season.
The signing of point guard Earl Boykins prior to the Kings game last night I think could be huge as well. Boykins is on a 10-day contract with the team, played 22 minutes last night after Kevin McHale and the staff gave him a crash course in a handful of offensive sets and defenses. Boykins looked as if he’d played with them all season long, that’s the value of a smart and still very eager and talented Boykins.
The Rockets are not a championship contender this season, but they can certainly make some noise and give teams a run for their money if Lowry gets back healthy as well as Marcus Camby, who has averaged just under 8 rebounds a game since joining the Rockets, he suffered torn ligaments in his left wrist during the 4th quarter of the Kings game. Fingers will certainly be crossed for Goran Dragic, who suffered a sprained right ankle in the OT period last night.
They always seem to make it interesting, and in this shortened season, they could be poised to fight to the nitty-gritty once again, and just sneak their way into the playoffs. I’ll maintain this always, getting young players post-season experience is invaluable, and I would rather see them get in and test themselves against the best, as opposed to find themselves on the outside looking in and hoping for the best, in trying to hit the lottery within the draft.