On Wednesday night, the Houston Rockets had at least two motives to celebrate –winning their first division title in 21 years and grabbing the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. But the team rather chose to stay in a reflective mood and look ahead on what to do next in the playoffs.
“It’s a great accomplishment for us. We’re very proud of that. We’re going to let it kind of sink in tonight, sit back and reflect on a great season we’ve had and get ready for this postseason,”
said James Harden after the game.
And indeed it was a great accomplishment since the squad lost in the first rounds of the playoffs over the last couple of seasons.
Harden, as always, was absolutely brilliant. With 11 rebounds, 16 points, and 10 assists, he managed to nail his fourth consecutive triple-double this season and help the Rockets secure a 117-91 win against the Utah Jazz Wednesday night.
Currently, James Harden has the most triple doubles in a single season in the franchise’s history since Hakeem Olajuwon, who also had four in the 1989-1990 season.
On the other hand, the Rockets weren’t propelled to the second seed by this win alone. They needed also the New Orleans to beat San Antonio on the same night, which actually did happened a few minutes after the game against Utah ended. Next, Houston prepares to face seventh seeded Dallas in the first round of the postseason.
After Wednesday night’s game, Houston finished 56-26, which is the third best record in the history of the franchise. Houston center Dwight Howard disclosed that all his teammates were focused on winning the playoffs. He said that it was not enough to have a great regular season; instead the most important thing was what a team did in the playoffs. Howard also said that the Rockets were set to win the championship.
Last night, the Rockets managed to secure a 11-point lead after the first quarter, and use the 34 points of the second to sink the Jazz into a 30-point deficit by halftime. After that point, just about everyone knew who the winner was.
Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale said that his players “had a good juice” in the first half. He also said that an excellent second quarter, some stops and a lot of running helped them finally seal the victory.
Jazz point guard Bryce Cotton finished the game with 14 points.
Utah coach Quin Snyder admitted that the Rockets were simply better than the Jazz. He also said that they were outplayed but felt no shame for it.
Houston center Dwight Howard scored 14 points in about 21 minutes. Coach McHale would have wanted him to play up to 30 minutes, but it wasn’t necessary since the team was already leading the game. Howard’s play time was limited because he was currently recovering from a swelling in his right knee which kept him off the field for a couple of months.
Terrence Jones finished the night with 15 points, Josh Smith with 13, and Corey Brewer with 14 points. Jones and Smith also helped the Rockets with their three blocks to tie a season-high of 13.
Image Source: USA Today