The Houston Rockets will need many more defensive performances similar to their two most recent efforts in order to climb from the bottom five in the NBA in defensive rating, but the results produced against the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns are nonetheless noteworthy.
Houston extended its homecourt winning streak to five games with its 111-97 victory over the Suns on Tuesday, marking the second time this season the Rockets have held consecutive opponents below 100 points following their 97-92 home triumph over the Bucks on Sunday.
The Rockets will look to extend their homecourt winning streak, and their stretch of tenacious defensive efforts, on Thursday when they host the Miami Heat.
Even with their back-to-back sterling defensive showcases, the Rockets (9-18) concluded Tuesday ranked 27th in defensive rating according to NBA.com, allowing 114.8 points per 100 possessions. And with the second-youngest roster in the league, it is easy to draw the conclusion that the youthful Rockets’ focus might skew toward the offensive end of the court.
But after smothering the Bucks into 36.7-percent shooting, including limiting Milwaukee to 12-of-43 shooting from behind the arc, the Rockets held Phoenix to 32 percent — the Suns’ lowest shooting percentage since Oct. 18, 2017, against the Portland Trail Blazers. For a team with a woeful defensive reputation, the Rockets have shown of late their potential when fully committed.
“It’s the buy-in,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “It’s some tactical things but good defensive teams try really hard, and that’s what we do. We try hard. We’re not perfect all the time but we do try.
“The defense is coming. Two really good defensive games against two good teams is something to be proud of but also something to build on.”
Miami guard Tyler Herro drilled a 19-foot pullup jumper with 4.9 seconds left to give the Heat a 110-108 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, providing Miami with its first set of consecutive road wins this season. The stop in Houston will mark the third of a four-game road trip for the Heat with the finale coming on Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Heat played without their leading scorer Jimmy Butler (knee) against the Thunder. Herro more than made up for his absence, pacing six players in double figures by matching his career high of 35 points while hitting a career-best nine 3-pointers and logging 40 minutes.
Bam Adebayo (15 points, 13 rebounds) added a double-double while Duncan Robinson and Victor Oladipo each scored in double figures in combining for 26 points on 8-for-16 shooting off the bench, a role typically reserved for Herro. But with Butler sidelined, Herro filled the void in the starting lineup with aplomb as Miami moved to within one game of .500 on the season at 14-15.
“Anytime we can get a win on the road we’ll take it,” Herro said. “This is a huge week for us going out here on the road. We haven’t won two in a row yet on the road so this was big for us.
“I’m just trying to make the right play, whatever it is. My mindset has got to be aggressive. That’s what the team needs out of me.”
–Field Level Media