Rockets Tailor-Made For This Season

The truth is we should have seen this coming.

The Rockets are exactly the kind of life-raft team that was made to stay afloat in the choppy waters of the jam-packed, no-rhyme-or-reason post-lockout schedule.

They have continuity. They have young legs. Now with Samuel Dalembert challenging opponents in the middle and new coach Kevin McHale challenging the Rockets from the bench, they are developing a defensive personality.

These are no longer Rick Adelman’s Rockets, though Adelman did get an up-close view on Monday night when they handled his Timberwolves 107-92 to put a grip on their seventh straight victory.

It is the most consecutive wins by the Rockets since Jan. 29-Mar. 16, 2008 when the franchise ripped off 22 in a row, the second-longest win streak in NBA history.

Nobody’s circling Feb. 20 (home vs. Memphis) yet as the date when the Rockets will notch No. 23-in-a-row this season. But after a 3-7 start, there is a sense that this is a team built for the long haul of a schedule that will test sanity and endurance along with sheer talent.

“With the toughest starting schedule in the league, our goal was a 5-5 start,” said general manager Daryl Morey. “Even though we weren’t able to get there, once we got back to the .500 level we felt were back on a playoff pace and we think it can better.

“Our feeling was that we have three really, really strong veterans in Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin and Luis Scola and then we found ourselves in a unique position to get veteran center in Samuel that was a good fit at just the position where we needed the most help.

“We still need to build up our second unit and get a more consistent contribution from that group every night. But the way things have been going, we’re feeling comfortable that things can continue to improve.”

Lowry rang up 16 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds for a triple-double against the Wolves has been making a case for an All-Star bid with his play over the first month. But the Rockets’ resurgence has been more than a one-man show.

McHale has nurtured that improvement with a willingness to use the youth in his lineup – such as rookie forward Chandler Parsons and second-year big man Patrick Patterson – to keep fresh legs on the floor, all while keeping the frantic schedule in mind.

The resurrection has also been about defense. McHale has been adamant that his team will play it. The players have heard his edict to either get after it with energy and enthusiasm or wind up watching from the bench.

Dalembert, more than anyone else, has had the greatest impact. Last season, Jordan Hill led the Rockets with 52 blocked shots. Dalembert already has 34 this season and has swatted back 21 during the seven-game win streak. That has enabled Houston to already hold six teams below 90 points in a game, something they didn’t do last season until their 21st game.

It’s already a season when a veteran such as Tim Duncan in San Antonio has had to have his minutes curtailed and even held out of games, when Kobe Bryant’s heavy workload already has to be of concern to the Lakers.

For the Rockets to have a mix of those young legs to go with an experienced core makes them a bunch worth keeping an eye out for as the hectic schedule wears on and grinds down.

“You look at that roster,” Adelman said of his former team, “and you have seven guys who have played together for three years now. That’s a big advantage. It’s a solid team.”


  1. charles says:

    You’re wrong. They are Rick Adelman’s Rockets. He made them and they are the same team he made. There isn’t much movement in the personnel and there hasn’t been enough time to fit McHale’s coaching philosphy into the team so they are working off the same stuff Adelman taught them. Adelman brought discipline, a winning attitude to the rockets – the same way he’s doing it to Minnesota. It’s like Detroit when Carlisle spent years training them and disciplining them only to get fired and see Coach brown get all the credits.

  2. phyllis says:

    Being a Texas fan, I really like to see Houston shine. I just wish SA would get healthy and Dallas well did I say Texas, maybe south Texas. Dallas is okay. The Jet is my favorite. Let hope they can survive without Tyson.

  3. Basketball says:

    It is funny how Minnesota is messing around with Kevin Love’s extension. Commenting that he was on a 22-win club last year, etc. I have watched him a few times this year. He is the real deal. Flashback of Minnesota not building upon Kevin Garnett. Hey Boston Celtics…Minnesota is training another standout for you to pick up. Get ready…your minor league team in Minnesota…aka the Timberwolves, are going to hand you another standout power forward here shortly. Congratulations! Just in time to replace the current power forward that you have which Minnesota did a great job of developing for you.

  4. Kangaroo Pat says:

    Also, Lowry and Parker should both make the ALL STAR team. They have probably been their teams most important players

  5. Kangaroo Pat says:

    All the above comments are true and it just goes to show that, if you can win the close one’s then it could be the difference from finishing 10th or 6th in the conference. I am a Spurs fan but, i do like the way the rockets are playing and hope they make the playoffs. (Except if they are fighting for the last spot with the Spurs)
    Also, Scola has been one of the best international players to play in the NBA. I’m spewing we traded him as he would have been a nice fit for the Spurs this season.

  6. brian says:

    Kyle Lowry deserves to be an all star this season. He finally broke into the triple double last night after coming close 7 or 8 times already. As long as Dalembert can stay healthy they will make the playoffs.

  7. buzzkillington says:

    I’ve been a Rockets fan as long as I have been a basketball fan, and I’m delighted to see this tough underdog team finally earn some respect and recognition, not to mention some sweet wins. Welcome back, playoffs!

  8. I have been a rocket fan since 2004 when TMAC got traded there. have been following that incredible franchise for about 8years. I can say that they have an awesome line up now with the addition of Dalmbert “the bear” in the middle which they really lack when Yao is always injured. they also now have an awesome depth on the bench. courtney lee, chase buddinger and goran dragic. they have started 3-7 because dalembert was still adjusting and learning the plays that time. remember that dalembert got signed a day before the tip off and no practice was held with him.

    I can say that if lowry, martin and sammy is healthy and will have more chemistry especially with sammy they can have a shot at the finals. this is one awesome year for the rockets fans! more action.

  9. Gdios says:

    Good to see an article giving the Rockets the respect they deserve. I think our roster is especially unique, Adelman mentions that some of our players have experience playing together and that indeed is an advantage for us. I am SO RELIEVED we didn’t gut our team for friggin Gasol, and I always thought from the beginning of FA that Dalembert would be a good fit. It’s definitely going down in Htown this year.

  10. Ruben of Macedonia says:

    Its so fine to see Sammy being on fire when everyone thought his going downwards. Lowry finally got the role he always deserved. He is using it in the best way possible. I always knew he is more productive than Brooks. Scola is one of the best international players ever. True leader of his national team. I think that the success of the Rockets depends on the consistency that Kevin Martin has. As long as hes is making good shot selection, Rockets can surprise big time. Yeah, even in the play-offs. I think McHale is doing a great job!

  11. chosen one says:

    I hope Lowry gets to the All Star game, he really deserves it this year

  12. madeupname says:

    There ball play is less prone to injury. could help later. still the offense has problems. we lost close games that should have been shut out.

  13. Roy says:

    This Kyle Lowry guy is tearin it up! he’s become a top 10 point guard this year and I barely knew anythng about the guy the past few years. I remember when T-Mac and Yao went down and Artest and Brooks got traded away, I thought this team was done, but they always had a certain “grit” about them and a bunch of tough players. I like how they are now they’re really showing there stuff in a Western conference where it seems almost every team can beat anyone. Except the Queens lmao!

  14. jaydawg says:

    meh, i wouldnt credit the coach on this one. adelman shouldnt have been fired. he never ever had a full roster and always was missing one or more of his top players. houston has always had solid players for a few years now and it was easy to see they would be good. they always lost a lot of close games last year and that was with their best players missing

    • Adelman says:

      Adelman was never fired; he left the team. Also, Adelman came to Houston thinking that he would be coaching McGrady and Yao for championship contention but that never happened, and he got Martin and Scola instead, the reason why he left

  15. jacob lee says:

    Wish they would play Flynn more as the backup guard, but I think think theyre playing great

  16. Daniel C says:

    The Rockets are playing very inspirational ball this year, despite a rocky start. They have always shown to pull through and fight through adversity. Not many teams in the NBA have respect for the Rockets, but the Rockets are climbing the wall and putting other teams down in the process. Let’s Go Houston! We Believe!

  17. KaroLT says:

    playing hard fought style… Well done rockets n mchale

  18. Zeb says:

    As a lifelong Rockets fan I was deeply concerened with the way we started the season. Not because of our schedule but because of the way our lineups were handled every night. It seems like coach Mchale has his bearings now and he and his staff understand the players they have on their roster. I love that he wasn’t afraid to replace Chase with a defensive minded energetic player like Parsons. That took guts. If the Rockets can hold on to the 6-8 seed in the west, we might surprise some people. We’ve always been a solid center away from playoff success! Go Rockets!