Houston (CBS Houston) – Hours after the release of head coach Kevin McHale the Rockets had to still play a game with the Trailblazers.
Shocked, and stunned was the mood pregame from newly promoted head coach J. B. Bickerstaff and the Rockets players were forced to press on.
“It’s a tough day with coach Mac getting fired,” Corey Brewer said “but we had to play a basketball game today, I feel like the guys came out, we played hard tonight,”
The Rockets would end up beating the Trailblazers in overtime in the first game of coach Bickerstaff’s career 108 to 103.
The game had a little bit of a different feel to the game. Bickerstaff in his first official head coaching move, benched Ty Lawson and instead started Jason Terry. Even with the new coach and the new lineup it failed to bring about the spark the team is in search for, at least early on.
Rockets lead by one point at the end of the first quarter. They would end up going into the locker room at the half trailing 46 to 35.
The Rockets at times looked like they might be able to turn the quarter. Unfortunately, they could not string enough together and would fall back into the same team they have been to start the season.
“We moved the ball well,” Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said “we live with those shots we were taking, we had guys who make three-pointers getting wide open looks,”
But the shots that wouldn’t go in early started to go in late. The Rockets down 15 points to start the fourth would end up making a comeback that would only be fitting for the type of day the team had.
The team started to play some stingy defense, closing out on shooters, forcing the Trailblazers into turnovers. And on offense the team started to pick up their pace, hitting buckets and getting out in transition .
“We just played desperate,” Trevor Ariza said “we got stops when we needed, we got the 50/50 balls when we needed them and James did what he did down the stretch,”
The Rockets kept chipping away at the Trailblazers pulling within three in the final seconds. The Rockets would end up forcing overtime when the Trailblazers decided not to foul James Harden who would make a cross court pass to Corey Brewer who nailed a three off of one leg with 0.9 seconds remaining.
The Rockets would ride the momentum carried over from the fourth into overtime, holding the Trailblazers to only four points.
It’s just one win but the Rockets have something to build on.