3 observations from Rockets win against Magic
The Houston Rockets have won five games in a row, the current longest winning streak in the NBA. Nobody covering this team could have predicted before the season that they would be typing that sentence. Nobody in general could have predicted this while Houston was in the midst of a 15-game losing streak. It’s truly a bizarre turn of events and it all stemmed from a simple lineup change. We aren’t at the point where you start re-evaluating what Houston could be this season, but we have reached the point where we can dismiss the notion of them being this historically terrible team.
Let’s see what stuck out on Friday night.
Rockets Observations Following Win Against Magic
1. Kevin Porter Jr. suffers another setback
This thigh contusion is getting really dicey for Kevin Porter Jr. It’s the second time he’s re-aggravated it and at some point, the Rockets are going to want him to take an extended layoff to get right. It’s not something Porter Jr. would want to do as he’s pushed himself to come back from these injuries, probably prematurely. And judging by Stephen Silas’ postgame remarks, we may have reached the point where a significant layoff is inevitable.
“I hope not, but I don’t know,” said Silas when asked if Porter Jr.’s injury was going to be a recurring thing. “It has to get right. He’s a competitor. He wants to play and he wants be a part of what we have going on and all that, but it’s hard for him because he irritates it seemingly every night. So, I don’t have a good feel for how long it’s going to be, but we definitely need to get him right.”
2. Alperen Sengun gets more minutes
When Houston stopped playing lineups with two big men, the player hurt the most was obviously Daniel Theis. However, Alperen Sengun took a pretty hefty dip in minutes per game after the change as well. This is due to the fact that the Rockets have also left behind the lineups with Sengun and Christian Wood. The pair was a nice change of pace from Wood and Theis, but it still ended up in the negative. With Porter Jr. going down, the Rockets played more of that lineup to give Houston a playmaker as consolation.
Sengun with the court vision! 👀 pic.twitter.com/zXHQpE5Z5G
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) December 4, 2021
And as one would expect, Sengun absolutely shined in those minutes. He ended the game with 13 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and a steal on 71.6% true shooting. His passing was next-level good and it was crucial when Porter Jr. went down. Even crazier is that Sengun was finally attempting three-pointers without hesitation tonight. His shooting stroke looks perfectly fine, but it’s been a matter of confidence for Sengun.
3. Eric Gordon contributes 24 points and the game winning basket
Eric Gordon is going to make a playoff team really happy pretty soon. It’s not a secret that Gordon is not long for the Rockets and it’s just a matter of time before Houston accepts an offer from a team looking to bolster their lineup for a playoff run. Tonight, you got a chance to see the full Eric Gordon experience. This includes all the ridiculously long threes, all the errant passes to teammates, and most importantly, the experience to help lead a team past the finish line. Finishing with 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field, Gordon looked stellar.
Eric Gordon for the win 🚀 pic.twitter.com/OYN8rJUiBY
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 4, 2021
If the Rockets can somehow manage to keep their winning streak going, Gordon will be a big part of that. His responsibilities, particularly as a ball handler, are sure to pick up without Porter Jr. for some time.
The Rockets will attempt to extend their winning streak to six games on Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans.