Look out, Western Conference, it appears that the Houston Rockets are done losing games for a while.
Most teams would have some trouble coming back quickly from a 4-7 start to an NBA season, but the Houston Rockets are not most teams. Houston has won four straight games to improve their record to 8-7, and in the process have looked more like the Rockets of 2017-18.
Houston took 47 3-point attempts in three of their four consecutive wins, and made at least 34 percent of their triples in all of them. In the Rockets’ first 11 games, the team shot 34 percent or better from deep just four times. Only twice before this current stretch had Houston fired off 47 or more 3-pointers.
Carmelo Anthony’s removal from the lineup might have had something to do with Houston’s resurgence, but his shortcoming wasn’t in not trying to fit in. Carmelo was taking 6.4 3-pointers per game, a career-high mark for him, although he was only hitting 32.8 percent of his 3s, his worst conversion percentage in nearly a decade.
Carmelo’s on/off numbers with the Rockets this season are eye-popping, but some of those get clouded by other circumstances as well. Houston was without Chris Paul for their third and fourth game and was then without James Harden for games five, six, and seven.
That run happened to coincide with heavy playing time for Carmelo in his star teammates’ absences and also led to four of Houston’s seven losses. Since Harden and Paul have both been back in the lineup, the Rockets are 6-2. Still, things aren’t entirely rosy in Houston.
The Rockets still need shooting. As inefficient as he was from deep, Carmelo still had a better 3-point percentage than Gary Clark, Gerald Green and Eric Gordon do this season. Right now, the only Rockets to hit 35 percent or more of their 3s are Paul, Harden, P.J. Tucker and James Ennis.
Houston will need more shooting from its rotation in order to keep these victories coming, especially in the tough West. Look for Daryl Morey to make some moves, as he always does, to keep the Rockets on track for more of these wins.
#Content you can’t miss
Talk about blasting off; Tevin Williams believes the Rockets could end up on a double-digit winning streak
Always read 10 things; Zach Lowe actually has 11 things he likes and doesn’t like this week, to be specific
Tough stuff for the former Nets GM; Chris Mannix profiles Billy King, who is still dealing with the repercussions of that infamous Nets/Celtics trade
Night and day; Jacob Szaniawski notes the areas in which the Bucks have been demonstrably better than last season
After hanging up the jersey; Ian Levy talks to Cherokee Parks about the NBA Basketball Operations Associate Program
This is fine; Tim Bontemps reports that Brad Stevens and Kyrie Irving publicly called out their team after another tough loss