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Jae’Sean Tate’s perfect response to historic night, Rockets’ first road win of season

Rockets, Jae'Sean Tate

One observation from the Houston Rockets’ last win against the Oklahoma City Thunder was how underappreciated Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate has become. Well, that certainly shouldn’t be the case after Wednesday night’s rematch. Not only did Tate score 32 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the field in the Rockets’ first road win of the season and fourth straight win overall, but he chipped in 10 rebounds, seven assists, five blocks, and two steals to go along with it. This made him the only other Houston Rocket to have at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and five blocks in a game since Hakeem Olajuwon.

“It was just one of those nights where I had it going,” said Tate. “My teammates and coach kept feeding me the ball in my spots.”

Tate was obviously not intending to have the night he did, but, boy, did the Rockets need it. Top offensive options Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. both went down with injuries on a night where Jalen Green was already out, and Eric Gordon just shot the ball too poorly to make up for it (3-for-12 from the field). This left Tate as the most viable option to try to fill the shoes of his high-scoring teammates.

“That’s not my primary role,” said Tate. “I think everybody knows that. But I’m very confident in what I bring to the table offensively. Not only scoring wise, but just seeing the floor and being able to make decisions in space. That kind of helps me when they overlook the scouting report.”

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Tate used his signature strength and bully-ball offense to get into the teeth of the defense to score or find shooters and cutters. It’s the first time he had to be a go-to option since his days overseas playing for the Sidney Kings, but he was sure ready for it. The Rockets even got to the point where they were drawing up elbow-action plays that Tate was familiar with:

 

“Yeah, I’ve been running that play since I was in high school,” said Tate on the elbow action. “At Ohio State, I ran that. Even when I was overseas with [Rockets assistant coach] Will Weaver, that was a play that he put in. To have that call tonight — it felt familiar. It’s one of my strengths. Playing in that mid-post area and getting to my left hand.”

This is a night that will go down in the history books for two reasons. The first is obviously Tate’s ridiculous stat line. The other is that the Rockets are the first team in NBA history to respond to a 15-game losing streak with a four-game winning streak. Houston also had to come from behind to win, making it the ultimate feel-good victory.

“None of that matters if you don’t win,” concluded Tate. “It definitely feels good to be able to have a career night and finish it out with a pretty hard road win. Our first road win. This is just something we have to continue to build on. We can celebrate this one tonight, but we have to get ready for Orlando.”