The Houston Rockets finished week 3 of the season with a 2-1 sparked by James Harden’s Western Conference Player of the Week performance.
Most notably the Rockets weathered the 5-game road trip which has seen Houston play more games out of the friendly confines of the Toyota Center then in it.
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Week 3 featured the Houston Rockets playing games in Washington and San Antonio (both wins) and their lone loss which occurred at home in Houston. Though many might feel that loss was inexplicable given the team was finally home, it’s important to recognize the first game back after a long road trip often is the most difficult to win.
Of note the Rockets offense continues to excel as the squad ranks 6th offensively in the Association. Their defense is still a work in progress so news Patrick Beverley is set to return offers encouragement for Houston.
Here’s how the National Pundits ranked the Houston Rockets in week 3:
Starting Corey Brewer helped the Rockets get off to stronger defensive starts in two of their last three games, and Eric Gordon had a huge game (27 points, 7-for-12 from 3-point range) off the bench in Saturday’s loss to the Spurs. Patrick Beverley’s likely return this week gives Mike D’Antoni more flexibility on the perimeter, but he has only played a super-floor-spacing lineup – with Ryan Anderson at the five – for about seven minutes thus far. James Harden is averaging 30.3 points (with an effective field goal percentage of 60.4 percent), 8.5 rebounds and 14.2 assists in six November games.
Marc Stein of ESPN ranks the Houston Rockets 11th which is an aggressive 5 spot jump over last week:
No player in history has ever averaged 30-plus points, 12-plus assists and 7-plus rebounds over the course of an entire season. James Harden is on that precise pace at this early juncture, despite the fact Houston surprisingly ranks only 17th in pace leaguewide. No Mike D’Antoni team has ever finished outside the league’s top 10 in pace. Back to Harden: He’s quickly upped his collection of triple-doubles to 10 as a Rocket, which is just four shy of matching Hakeem Olajuwon‘s franchise record.
Matt Moore of CBS.com ranks the Houston Rockets holds steady with his placement of the Rockets. Although it has to be stipulated Moore ranks the Rockets well ahead of the other pundits at 9.
James Harden is a nuclear-inferno phoenix, soaring through the night sky. Patrick Beverley is nearing a return. They’ve got a big week coming up against other playoff hopefuls.
Jeremy Woo of SI.com offered one line for some of his ratings but had a lot to say about the Rockets who he ranks 12th up from 15th last week:
I just wanted to take a minute to consider how we should process this Rockets season, now that James Harden is, you know, averaging THIRTEEN ASSISTS PER GAME. I have a new fantasy where Harden and Westbrook—who are still good friends—reunite somewhere (location’s not important), somehow both average triple doubles, and combine to knock off old running mate Kevin Durant and the Golden State Super Villains.
Daryl Morey, good job, man. I don’t know if the stats suggested this or what, but pairing Harden with philosophical compadre Mike D’Antoni, removing Dwight Howard from the mix, signing some pretty good role players and just letting the pot boil was probably one of the clearer lines of thinking we saw from any team in the off-season. Of course this is working. The Rockets are still around .500, and they might be there all year, so no, Harden probably won’t get my MVP vote. But if he stays around 30 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds? He’s in the conversation.
I’d deem all of this unsustainable if the Rockets weren’t just a massive vehicle that amplifies Harden’s basketball essence. Don’t ask this team to play much defense or win 50 games, just think about the synergy and simplicity driving its engine. It’s ridiculous, it’s entertaining as hell, and it pretty much works.
So that sums up how the pundits view the Houston Rockets with all pretty much alluding to their enjoyment of the offense (Woo’s Morey accolades aside). Now if Jeff Bzdelik can just find a way to get this squad into the top 15 defensively we might see the Rockets sky rocket up these lists. Patrick Beverley’s return will undoubtedly help with that problem.