There was little in the way of recent prior history to suggest the Houston Rockets were capable of stringing together four consecutive victories, especially considering the first win of their current streak snapped a 15-game losing skid that was the longest in the league.
But the Rockets, who will look to extend their streak to five games against the visiting Orlando Magic on Friday, had shown signs of a trait that has become central to their sudden success: resilience.
In their 114-110 road win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, the Rockets erased a 15-point first-half deficit and produced a 41-point fourth quarter that slapped an exclamation point on their comeback, one that came with Houston shorthanded.
Houston entered play without rookie guard Jalen Green (hamstring), who missed his third consecutive game, and lost two other starters along the way when center Christian Wood (ankle) and guard Kevin Porter Jr. (thigh) departed with the outcome very much in doubt.
Their roster stretched thin, the Rockets found a way on the road behind a makeshift lineup.
“We were trying to piece lineups together,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “It started so poorly and we didn’t have the requisite energy to do much and then we just kept fighting and battling and at halftime, we were like, ‘Hey, it’s only seven (points). We’re still right here and we’ve just got to keep playing and keep trying.'”
Jae’Sean Tate (32 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, five blocks, two steals) delivered a monster performance to bolster the Rockets, who of late have received key contributions from the fringe of their roster. Garrison Mathews and Armoni Brooks have excelled at filling in the gaps, and the Rockets finally earned results to validate the moxie that showed up during an earlier five-game road trip that featured spirited performances against the Western Conference elite.
The Rockets lost all five of those games, yet they did not relent. Their persistence is now paying dividends.
“All those guys that were here this summer, their hard work is paying off,” Silas said. “And it’s fun to see.”
The Magic welcomed back second-year guard Cole Anthony to their lineup Wednesday against the Denver Nuggets and given his prior performances this season, the results were positive.
Anthony recorded 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to help Orlando snap a seven-game losing skid via a 108-103 victory. Unsurprisingly, the Magic dropped all six games with Anthony sidelined during that stretch. Anthony, shelved by an ankle injury, posted his ninth 20-point game this season and leads the Magic in scoring (19.9 points) and assists (5.9).
“I was really upset at the time I got hurt because I felt we had a couple (good) games,” Anthony said. “We had just beat the Knicks, we should have beaten the Brooklyn Nets and I thought we were really starting to figure it out. I get hurt and it was a bad time after that.
“I just really want to get out there and help my brothers. That’s the main thing. I was able to do that and we were able to get a win. That’s cool stuff right there.”
–Field Level Media