The word around the NBA regarding the Houston Rockets for most of the 2013-14 regular season has been pretty simple: yeah, they’re good; but can they contend for a title. Through the first three or more months of the season, it was hard to answer that question, but the prevailing answer seemed to be “probably not.”
However, on Sunday night against the talented Portland Trail Blazers, the Rockets continued to change the answer to that question with an impressive 118-113 overtime victory. The victory wasn’t impressive in the way that they dominated throughout, but rather in the fact that the Rockets were able to claw their way back and earn a hard-fought win over a playoff-team.
Houston was undoubtedly aided by the humungous effort from James Harden on the night as the All-Star finished with 41 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and six steals while shooting 12-28 from the floor and 7-12 from three. Jeremy Lin was also big for the Rockets off of the bench. Despite all of this, though, it was the fortitude of this team that left people singing their praises.
After trailing by double digits to start the fourth quarter and seeing that lead even increase a bit, the Rockets clamped down on defense and turned up the heat on offense as well to fight back. They were then able to capitalize on that momentum-shift in overtime and grab the victory.
The talent of Houston has never been put into question. Any team with Harden and Dwight Howard is always going to potentially be a problem in the postseason. However, with this team showing the camaraderie and focus to fight like they did on Sunday night, that shows that they have grown from a team that has to blow opponents away with their offense to grab victories into something much more dangerous.
Yeah, the Houston Rockets are good; but can they compete for a title? If they play like this in the postseason, it’s possible.