Rockets Answer Is Growin’ In the Win


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HOUSTON – Somewhere down the line, they might look back at it like a pencil mark drawn on the garage wall.

Perhaps one day they’ll pull it out of the back of the closet and shake their heads and smile at the memory of a favorite old pair of pants that no longer covers their ankles.

If the grand and glorious night in the future eventually comes when the confetti is falling, the triumphant music is blaring and commissioner Adam Silver is presenting the gold championship trophy up on the podium to their free agent acquisition Dwight Howard, they’ll know this is where it began.

Growth.

The Rockets shot up like weeds through cracks in the sidewalk, tripping the Thunder 105-103, also bringing down the nagging notion that they didn’t have the right stuff to finish.

It’s said that you have to crawl before you learn to walk and the Rockets had the scabs on their knees to prove it, having fallen into an 0-3 hole largely because they tumbled over the cliff late in each of the previous two games.

But this was a night when OKC’s splendid splinter Kevin Durant couldn’t get another four-bounce prayer to be answered because Patrick Beverley stepped in to take a charge in the clutch, because the hair shirt that was Francisco Garcia itched and wouldn’t let K.D. get off a winning 3-pointer and because Omer Asik stepped out to cut off a desperate, driving Reggie Jackson the paint.

It was not a win that will likely change the outcome of a series in which the Thunder are simply the better team. However, it was the kind of victory that blazes a trail and lays a foundation for where the Rockets franchise wants to go.

“Everyone else might say it’s just one game for us,” said Rockets coach Kevin McHale. “But for us, it was our first playoff win with this group and you can’t get two playoff wins until you get the one. You can’t feel what we need to feel up in Oklahoma City with a team that says, ‘We don’t want to come back here for Game 6.”

There are still plenty of pieces missing from the puzzle until anyone thinks of the Rockets as championship contenders and trying to land Godzilla in the form of Howard over the summer remains the top priority.

Yet you can watch Chandler Parsons, the second-round draft choice who should embarrass every other scouting department with cable TV and a DVD player, blossom into a player that can do three things — shoot, drive and simply play like hell — and see growth.

You can see Asik, stuck on the bench for years in Chicago, make the most of an opportunity by defending the rim and pulling down rebounds simply because a team showed belief in him.

You can see little Beverley finishing off a basketball season that began in St. Petersburg, Russia by treating every possession on offense and defense as if he were still the last line of defense in the Cold War.

The entire NBA has seen James Harden explode like a Fourth of July firecracker since October, when he hit the ground running in Houston by trade from OKC four days before the start of the season and became a first-time All-Star and a player who could carry the load and carry a team. Here was a night when Harden was simply horrid, shooting just 4-for-12 from the field, scoring just 15 points and setting a franchise playoff record with a discombobulated 10 turnovers.

Yet where the Rockets of a few months ago might never have been in the game in the fourth quarter against the Thunder with Harden struggling and might simply have crumbled without him making every big basket, every big play down the stretch, there were others all around filling in the gaps.

Growth.

Harden knows that it’s a process that takes nurturing and patience. Barely a month into his rookie season in OKC, the Thunder were 1-12 and coach P.J. Carlesimo was replaced by Scott Brooks. They finished 23-59 that season.

A year later, the Thunder were 50-32 and got their first playoff taste of success, winning a pair of home games in a first-round series against the Lakers. The following season they reached the Western Conference finals and last year the NBA Finals.

There are never guarantees, but it usually is a process for a young team to learn how to compete, how to survive and how to thrive in the playoffs and it starts with something that might seem as insignificant as that very first win.

“It means a lot,” Harden said. “I think the previous two games, we let both of those slip away, having the lead late in the fourth quarter and just giving it away. So just to get the first one under our belt, now we have confidence going back to Oklahoma City and anything can happen.”

Someday, somewhere, somehow, if the plan keeps on coming together for these Rockets.

They’ll look at the pencil mark on the wall. They’ll smile at the pants that no longer fit. They’ll be able to remember exactly the night that it happened.

They grew.

Series hub: Thunder vs. Rockets

60 Comments

  1. Khalid says:

    Hi, there is a little mistake on your article.

    James Harden was drafted in 2009, so he was not in Oklahoma when Carlisimo was fired. Instead, the Thunder made the playoffs the same year he was drafted(09-10)

  2. TMacOKC says:

    Good win Rockets. Unfortunately my Thunder let themselves lose. I feel the person who lost us this game the most was Ibaka. No blocked shots. No rebounds. Didn’t protect the paint and didn’t contribute to scoring. Without Westbrook everyone needs to step up. Fisher stepped up, Martin stepped up. Ibaka hesitated too many times when shooting and then deferred and in some cases caused a turn over. That last shot he took showed just how useless he was in this game. If he brings his A game tonight and Fisher, Martin and Sefalosha contribute then Houston doesn’t stand a chance. Durant can’t do it alone and he needs to trust his other players more. This team has to figure out how to do it without westbrook and they will. Houston did a good job capitalizing on our uneasiness but now we’re back in OKC and will put an end to the series tonight. Thunder Up!

  3. A.J. says:

    Your wrong, the Houston rockets become the first team in NBA history to come back from down 3-0 in a best of 7 series. Notice I said become, because in the future its already happen and I’m a traveler in my future….:)

  4. Michael says:

    Houston needs a point guard u really still believe about LINSANITY well forget it!!! Now I know Tyreke Evans isn’t what ur all expecting but think about him coming off the bench??? Great spark I think could play the 1,2, or 3 I like him give Parsons and Harden rest while he going to work and they resting he’s young so they keep him for a while I like it.

  5. Michael says:

    And ^^^ you right Houston played great in 2 and 3. Wait till next yr.

  6. Michael says:

    Hardens not clutch plain and simple

  7. tituswu says:

    Go HOUSTON!!!! You can win this OKC series, no matter how many other people say you can’t.

  8. DZaak says:

    To those hating on Houston and saying they are not the real deal in a couple of years, why don’t you revisit games 2 and 3?
    Look at how well the Rockets played in both games. Why did they lose both? Because their lack of experience and savvy allowed them to squander 4th quarter leads. Had this team been more experienced, they would be up 3-1 against the #1 west seed. And remember, game 2 was WITH Westbrook on OKC’s home court.

    More proof that they will be legit if they don’t blow it up over the next 3-4 years.

  9. RedRising25 says:

    I love that people feel the same about yesterday’s win as I do, just another big step in the right direction! I feel so blessed to have watched this team grow this season and no matter what happens now I just can’t wait for next year!!
    Also i know people are really loving the rumours of Dwight, or the prediction about Josh Smith, but what would people think about waiting for another year until Kevin Love is ready to opt out? He’d be a VERY nice addition to this team.

  10. realist2013 says:

    Westbrook is a scoring point guard not a fascilitator like Rhondo or Nash. His penetration is what gives OKC thier punch. As long as the Rockets dont butcher the roster they will be fine. Jordans bulls team and spurs good examples. The Spurs never overhaul their roster so everyone knows everyones game ala strengths and weaknesses. teams looking for tge quick fix will always struggle and be lottery teams

  11. rockets937 says:

    The Rockets need a good power forward. I don’t know why the rockets traded patrick patterson. He was a solid power forward. Instead of getting Horward we should pau gasol. He is a much more better fit

    • Bubba says:

      Patterson was a good PF but inconsistent with rebounding and defense. Rockets traded him because of a log jam at PF. Motiejunas was suppose to be a Nowitzki type player who could shoot the 3 and bring a low post presence. Although good offensively, he is not that good on the defensive end. Plus, Thomas Robinson is another PF that will be looked at long term, but free agency might help fill that void by Josh Smith, Milsap, or someone else.

  12. skrutz says:

    Nice pun!

  13. ko0kiE says:

    Al Horford to the rockets… he’s a natural 4 forced to play the 5 in ATL, can hit the outside jumper, i think he would be a good fit with asik.

  14. Knowitall says:

    Fyi, there were no lines of defence or offence in the cold war. Why couldnt you just choose another war? Theres lots to choose from. Even ones involving russia…

  15. Dawn Hill says:

    I’ve been watching Cisco Garcia play the same kind of ball for the Sacramento Kings for many years and was heartbroken to see him traded away. When Houston played the Kings last time, Cisco got a standing ovation. I’m thrilled to see him playing playoff ball and become “the hair shirt that was Francisco Garcia itched and wouldn’t let K.D. get off a winning 3-pointer”! You GO, Francisco!

  16. chandler says:

    uh they won cuz of serge ibaka. hahah hilarios

  17. #1 Rockets Fan says:

    I really do not want Dwight in Houston. The chemistry is good now. In the draft however, we do need to draft a center. It really is the only piece the Rockets are missing. We have scoring from nearly every other position, but the Rockets lack a center, and always have ever since Yao retired. But please don’t bring Dwight. He has quit on 2 teams in the last 2 years and we don’t want to be paying him millions just to quit on us as well. Go Rockets!!!

    • #1 Rockets Fan says:

      I should say dominant center. Asik is good, but definitely not dominant.

      • mark says:

        Houston doesn’t have a 1st round pick this year, so drafting a center is not an option. David West is a free agent and Houston’s rookies should improve, so we might have the center and power forward positions covered. It would be great if they could get Tony Allen (a free agent). to shore up the defense.

  18. william says:

    without Jeremy lin, i guess Houston wont even make to the playoffs. in the game 3 James harden did two important turnover and that why houston rocket lost in that game.

    PS
    Houston needed only 1 power forward like Kevin Durant, that is all.

  19. KL says:

    Josh Smith may make more sense for the Rockets than Dwight would. Asik is doing everything we need him to. A star power forward and strong back up for Asik would make Houston much more dangerous.

    • SmoothMM says:

      Atlanta’s asking price, if interested at all with a trade between Houston, would probably be too high (i.e. inclusion of Parsons, Harden, Asik, Beverley, or someone else and/or draft picks). However, this is just speculation.

    • Clone says:

      Agree with you KL. They will target Smith in free agency and pretty sure they would give him his max contract.

  20. calvino says:

    We don’t need a cancer like Dwight Howard. If he was such a dominant superstar, he would have led the Lakers to at least one win over the Spurs instead of getting kicked out of game 4 and letting his team down. Get a superstar PF, a 6th man who can impact the game and a perimeter shooter and let this young team continue to develop and grow.

  21. Joshua says:

    Good for the Rockets for not giving up, I think game 5 will be close.

  22. Andre Jones says:

    I believe Harden is a good basket ball player, but he is a bit over rated in my opinion 10 turnovers is horrible. Someone needs to tell him that he needs to just play good basketball, STOP TRYING TO DRAW THE FOUL!!! I think he just needs to start playing go basketball, and stop trying to get to the line all the time.

  23. Bubba says:

    Perkins lacks an offensive game and is not as good as Asik. Remember, Asik is a center and not a power forward like Ibaka. Lin is no Westbrook, but he is solid at PG. His injury has made him ineffective on the court. Parsons is no Durant, but he can hold his own at SF (2nd Rd pick) and was a steal in the draft. The Rockets can grow into a contender as they are 1 star away from doing so. When Kevin Martin played for the Rockets, all he could do was score, but couldn’t play defense just like he’s doing in OKC. Harden is a superstar and is only going to get better, while Martin is good at being a role player. Rockets easily won that trade. OKC should have started Harden over defensive ace Sefolosha.

    • OKCKD35 says:

      ok all these people saying OKC should get rid of Perkins, or he is no good have no clue what they are saying. The reason OKc can be so efficient is because when Perk is in the game we do not have to double team ANY center In the league, which allows us to switch on pretty much any pick and roll, instead of deciding to go over (PG drives the lane) or under (spot up 3) the screen. This is also why OKC ranks 2nd in opponent FG% because we do not have to switch. So before you continue to martyr my boy Perkins, learn how basketball is played. That is all, thank you

      • Bubba says:

        Perkins is a defensive-minded center just like Asik. He is not a double double machine like Asik. His game doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet. Remember, if he wasn’t playing center for Boston, they would not have won the championship. OKC was smart enough to trade for him. Perkins’ offensive game is limited to lay ups, dunks, and hook shots. That’s why he takes advantage of the attention Durant or Westbrook receives and going into transition. He gives an attitude the Thunder defense needs coupled with Ibaka. While Perkins clogs the lane and helps in pick and roll, Ibaka uses his shot blocking ability. That’s why the Thunder are very good defensively.

  24. Rockets Fan says:

    All i see is some sour okc fans whining… WHERE ARE THE ROCKETS FANS?! Just reminding people that we should not underestimate houston front office, nobody said that asik or lin would be a fix in rockets future. However, unless another blockbuster trade or signing can be complete we will keep them and continue to let their game improve in the off-season. After last season’s huge roster shake up and this mid-season trading rockets fan should know that our championship roster is still in the making and far from over!!!

  25. Nader says:

    sigining D12 and letting Jermey Lin play a starter is the Perfect Storm that may make Rocket GM loose his job for sure. one advice Morey : dont push your luck , you were pailed out twice already . let the roster alone .. if you cant trade Jermy put him on the bench

  26. Undercover8 says:

    All this hype about the Rockets growing is a complete bull****and evidence of this growth from winning a playoff game against the OKC is definitely not true. The Rockets won a playoff game at home against a Thunder team in the midst of adjusting and rebuilding their offense (and in general their style of ball) after Westbrook’s injury in game 2. The rockets beat a Thunder team that has been handicapped, emotionally damaged and strategically ruined from an injury to one of the most pivotal players in the team (thank the brave Beverley for this). It is obvious that the Rockets’ victory against the OKC was hugely because of this reason and playing on home court surface with their fans behind them and nothing more.

    Also, the comparison drawn between OKC’s growth to a superstar team and a what could be Rocket’s future growth should be dismissed. OKC had 3 all star draft picks in Westbrook, Harden and Durant to lead the growth and the current Rocket’s team simply does not possess anything near what OKC had. Lin will never be as valuable as Westbrook, Parsons will never be anywhere near as great as Durant and Asik will never be more effective than Ibaka on the floor. I’m talking both defensively and offensively in each case. (I have not included Harden because he was involved in spurring the OKC’s growth and is now in the Rockets). All this hype about this current Rockets team growing and blossoming in the future into a championship team is utter foolishness. Even adding the thought of being able accumulate another star player like Howard in the team will not change the whole situation much. You need at least two All star caliber players in a team to win a championship and not to mention Harden is only on the fringes of all star level. His game is definitely too inefficient. With all this said, this Rockets team + the addition of an all star such as Howard + maxing the potential of its current players will never be anywhere near what the current OKC is now. And that’s taking the most optimistic view into account, ignoring setbacks and injuries to players.

    To summarise, the Rockets will undoubtedly be better in the future, but for it to grow into a championship team with the current roster? No is the answer.

    • hmm says:

      “harden is only on the fringes of allstar level”…are you blind? I would take him over westbrook in a heartbeat.

    • Bubba says:

      Check out my post Undercover8 for a counter response.

    • casey says:

      Wow…possibly the biggest hater i’ve ever seen. Thats a pretty bleak (and biased) outlook for the youngest team in the league who just beat the #1 seed in the west after barely losing games #2 and 3 (one of which featured your beloved Westbrook at home). Go ahead and pretend you are just this angry..it really does the job covering up the fact that we make you nervous. Keep up the great work champ

      • FearNObeard says:

        @hmm you would take Harden over westbrook?!!! Wow that is hilarious. Harden is a really good 6th man…he is not good enough nor will he ever be to be considered a true allstar. Its hilarious that he gets so much hype in Houston cause Houston’s team is such a joke he does shine. He shoots the ball more than Michael Jordan and Kobe combined and hits once in a blue moon. Overpaid overpaid rated 6th man playing a allstar role. Thankful we got rid of him. It was so annoying how he was never consistant for us. Now you Houston folks got him….enjoy the bearded turnover machine. Rockets only won last game cause Mr Westbrook is gone thanks to Beverly. And thanks to Beverly we can all watch Miami win their 2nd title this year. @ CASEY! Barely losing is still loosing last I checked. Did you ever consider that OKC is not taking rockets 100% serious. At the time of game 2 we were not concerned at all about your 3 point contest shooting rockets but more concerned with sweeping you so we can get on to a real contender. Moral to the story. POINTLESS ARTICLE. WHO CARES THAT ROCKETS WON ONE GAME AGAINST A WESTBROOKLESS TEAM. THEY WILL BE BEATEN IN NEXT GAME AND WILL STILL BE BENEATHE THUNDER FOR YEARS TO COME

      • Undercover8 says:

        Your argument makes no sense. The Rockets did not beat the #1 seed in the west in game 4. They beat a Westbrookless Thunder team who were in a state of readjusting their game. This Westbrookless Thunder team would actually be around 4th in the west right now. Also, it is of no surprise to win a playoff game at home. You stand a higher chance to win games at home and that’s what makes home court advantage so valuable in a best of 7 game series. To say the future is bright for a Rockets team after winning a home game against a disturbed weakened #1 seed team is completely uneducated and wrong.
        And to me, it looks like you are the one who is anxious after reading my thoughts regarding the Rocket’s future. Just accept it. Harden and this team are not good enough to win a championship and will never be if it stays like this.

    • BEVERLYcostOKCaTITLEchance says:

      This series is not important. Rockets will be done after Wednesday and if Westbrook was still active it would have been a sweep for sure. McHale was a good player and hes old school so its so weird that he runs a boring 3 point shooting team. Its seriously like watching a highschool team play at times. Hats off to them for beating okc the one game. Okc should be ashamed for loosing to such a unworthy opponent. That’s the difference between Russ and KD….Russ would not have let that happen. Oh well there is always next year. We will not beat the heat without Westbrook and maybe not even the spurs. Thanks again Beverly!

      • Bubba says:

        Beverley’s play was clean. Westbrook should have called timeout faster. It would be funny if the Thunder finish 2nd whether in the Finals or in the West playoffs just like Durant’s rant.

  27. KL says:

    It’s nice to see some respect for the Rockets. The future is looking bright in Houston.

  28. idiotic says:

    Why exactly is Dwight Howard the answer in Houston? What is the point of signing Omer Asik if all you are going to do is bury him on the bench behind D12? Everyone likes to speculate that Howard will sign with the Rockets, but if he does sign then Daryl Morey will have some work to do. Asik is owed just under 15 million in the 2014/ 2015 season with a cap hit of just over 8 million. Neither Asik or Howard can play the 4. That means if Houston signs Dwight Howard, Houston will be spending 35 million and losing 28 million of cap space on 2 players who play the exact same position. That is 48 minutes a night to split between 2 centers used to playing 30 (Asik) and 36 (Howard) minutes a piece. How does that work exactly? Asik is going to be very difficult to trade even as good of a player as he is. His salary and cap hit will be the same on whatever team he is traded to, where as in Houston he is going to make 5 million next year and 15 million the year after but only count 8 million against the cap. Dwight Howard would make any team better but it’s hard to see how it would all work with respect to the salary cap.

    • SmoothMM says:

      Dwight Howard can play the 4 when healthy. However, I don’t think he’s the answer. We need a big man who can get buckets down low. Someone like Marc Gasol, Brook Lopez, David West, Zach Randolph.. doesn’t need to play center, although that would be a plus. Dwight’s offensive post game is limited compared to the other guys (unless he can find that bank shot jumper that he’s shied away from over the years).

      • casey says:

        I agree with you both on DH. Great player but is it really worth letting go of Asik? You cant keep both. If Howard is a 10 then Asik is an 8.5 with room to grow on offense. Where-as we dont have a legit 4. We need offense, length, some help on the boards and good defense would be a plus (an allstar). You have to invest here and by signing either Josh Smith or Pau Gasol for significantly less than howard you wont break the bank when some of these contracts inflate. Im also intruiged by Al Jefferson. LaMarcus Aldridge is only signed through ’14 (he would look great in Rockets Red). Scola would be an improvement at a bargain. Davis Lee is sewn up through ’15. Kevin Love after ’14… ok Gasol or Smith it is. im done rambling..

  29. Tony says:

    When is Okc is going to get a center like Asik. Im tire of watching Perkin who come in to play 5 mins and get 2 or 3 fouls every game.Okc need action not just acting tough!

  30. Fred Garvin says:

    Put in Lin!

  31. OKCKD35 says:

    Congrats to Houston on a well played game last night! Same Position my Thunder were in a few years ago. With one more big addition they will be extremely competitive. Only thing I didn’t really like last night was the absurd Technical called on Liggins for putting his arms out to a jump ball call. I literally saw Houston make the same gesture at least 20 times throughout the course of the game with no call. Just thought that was ridiculous, but then again the out of bounds to OKC when the ball was clearly off Perkins.

  32. James says:

    I agree that Royce White needs to be put on a bus….out of town.

  33. Lakers Revival says:

    JLin, welcome to Lakers! L.A. loves you. Kobe-JLin-Nash perfect combination.

    HT signs DH, no problem.

  34. Andrew says:

    Congrats to Rockets. I thought it’s going to be a sweep, but u proved majority and me wrong. It will be more difficult to beat Rockets for next season. The series will be ended next game though.

    • DFerrell says:

      Well you were wrong they go back to the H. For game 6. Rock it Rockets fans Rock it

  35. MJfromOKC says:

    OKC played no defense in the 3rd two nights in a row. Thats not gonna get it done. Last night Thabo and Ibaka combined for 13 points. Good victory to the Rockets they shot the lights out.

  36. Willy says:

    Congrats to Kevin McHale! A players coach. I would like to see DH in Houston, a good fit. Also get Royce White on the bus and let him play every other game or whatever get him on the floor!

    • TT says:

      This season’s draft picks are snubbed by the superstars already working in each team. Only Damian Lillard have the opportunity to shine this season. Great job Houston!! Told you that a win will come when we dropped Lin-liability!

      • gg says:

        liability? like James Harden’s 10 turnovers? Everybody gets a bad night now and again. Lin and Harden combine for the most turnovers for the rockets in most of their games because they are the ones who handle the ball the most.

  37. CH says:

    And are growing!