Through the first part of the season, the Houston Rockets have been a team not many people outside Houston have talked about. They also have been a team that has struggled to close out games against the elite.
But last night, the Rockets would play their best game yet, successfully beating the first-seeded team in the Western Conference
Wednesday night, Houston would upset the Oklahoma City Thunder in a nail-biter, 95-96.
The last time these two conference rivals played, the situation was similar, but the roles were reversed. The Thunder were in the lead late and the Rockets were unable to win on a missed botched Goran Dragic pass that would go out of bounds.
Last night, the Rockets would win on clutch free throws from Kevin Martin, who had 32 points on 10-of-18 shooting. After Martin’s free throws, Houston’s defense would step up and force three missed shots by Thunder forward Kevin Durant.
Houston’s defense wasn't just strong in the clutch—it was strong all game. The Rockets' defense would force 21 Turnovers and 30 defensive rebounds, limiting OKC’s shooting chances.
The majority of the turnovers would come from Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who is known for turnover problems. Kyle Lowry would play good defense late despite giving up 26 points to Westbrook.
Other players who made an impact for the Rockets were Luis Scola, Chandler Parsons and Samuel Dalembert. Scola would put up 15 points, Parsons would have 14 points and although he only scored two points, Dalembert would make his presence felt on the defensive end, grabbing 12 boards and three blocks.
Coming off a 93-83 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Houston Rockets have been fairly inconsistent all season. However, with a huge team win against the Thunder, the Rockets could be a team to look out for in the near future.
The Rockets will do their best to prove that this win was not a fluke, as their next six games will feature formidable challenges. The Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, Memphis Grizzlies, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors will be waiting for the Rockets to close out the month of February.