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Guards fuel Rockets to needed win in Chicago

Houston Rockets Gerald Green dunk in Chicago

Houston Rockets

Guards fuel Rockets to needed win in Chicago

Gordon, Paul, Green, Ariza power Rockets to 116-107 road win over the Bulls

The Rockets busted out of the gate Monday night, taking a 21-point first half lead, only to find themselves trailing in the third quarter.

But Chris Paul and Eric Gordon came up big late in the third quarter and the Rockets went on to cruise to the 116-107 win in Chicago.

Few notes from the game:

  • Very interesting that the Rockets shot a lower percentage than the Bulls did from the field, from the three-point line and from the free throw line all while coughing up more turnovers. The field goal attempts were identical. So how in the world did the Rockets win and win big in Chicago? This is a Rocketball victory all the way. The sheer volume of threes (20-54 3P compared to 12-28) overwhelmed the Bulls and that was the difference. Trevor Ariza (18 points, nine rebounds) was huge here, hitting 6-13 from distance, including his first three attempts to spark the Rockets as they hit eight of their first 10 to build the early lead.

  • Chris Paul was Chris Paul — 24 points, nine assists, eight rebounds. You essentially lost an MVP candidate and replaced him with an MVP caliber player. But Gerald Green? This dude is still on a Houston high and like Breaking Bad, it just gets better with every episode. Green blasted off for 17 points in the first half (in just 13 minutes!), and in the second half, he just, well… literally blasted off.

    Mike D’Antoni said before the game he was “thankful” for Green, who he called a “breath of fresh air.” He finished with 22 points off the bench on 8-15 shooting, a +18 in just 26 minutes. I can’t stress enough how much the Rockets needed to find a rotation-worthy player and it appears they got one.

  • Eric Gordon (24 points, nine assists) has now scored 20+ points in more games (20) this year than he did last season (19), doing it in less than half the games (37 to 75 last season). But his playmaking in James Harden’s absence has been terrific. In the four games Harden has been out, Gordon is handing out 7.3 assists per, which is an average that would put him 7th overall in the league just behind Ben Simmons. Granted, that’s a small sample size, but it shows how significant his passing has been.

    “He’s running more pick and rolls,” said D’Antoni of Gordon’s role with Harden out. “That’s good to know we have that. Eric is another serious weapon out there.”

  • Ryan Anderson’s slump is reaching epic proportions. It’s not just the missed shots — it’s that he’s not taking them as well. He had just six points on 2-6 shooting. In the loss to Detroit on Saturday, he was 2-9 from the floor for five points and three rebounds, posting a -24 in 23 minutes on the floor. These are big minutes for a guy who is supposed to be a scorer/shooter. But it appears Anderson is well aware of the predicament, as his reaction when he made this triple in the fourth tells it all.

  • Luc Mbah a Moute, who was seen running drills in both Detroit and Chicago, is getting closer to a return every day. Rockets broadcaster Matt Bullard said Mbah a Moute told him in Detroit that his right shoulder is a “week to 10 days away.”

It’s a good win but I don’t think the bulk of the problems are over. They’ve been struggling, but they don’t appear worried.

“As long as we just keep on grinding and get everybody healthy, we’ll be fine,” said Gordon.

The Rockets will get a good test on Wednesday when they come home to face the Blazers.

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Armed with a bizarre fascination for Mario Elie and a deep love of the Houston Rockets, Dave Hardisty started ClutchFans in 1996 under the pen name “Clutch”.

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