HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610)- Jeff Green was in Oklahoma City when teams led by Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden turned the corner to become a Western Conference power more than a decade ago. He saw that same potential upon signing with the Rockets in July, and that potential is even clearer after nine games.
“Slowly but surely,” Green said after Sunday’s 107-104 win over the Denver Nuggets.
The Rockets have won six straight, finishing their seven-game homestand by beating the defending champions, who arrived in Houston with a league-best 8-1 record. They overcame a poor shooting night, converting on less than 43 percent of their shots as a team, highlighted by Jalen Green’s 1-for-13 output, but made enough plays late to secure the biggest win of the Ime Udoka era.
“It gives us confidence in knowing the things that we’re capable of,” Jeff Green said. “We played well tonight. The last two games, when we needed stops, we got them. We can’t rely on offense all the time.”
The Rockets win streak started with a win over Charlotte, followed by back-to-back blowout victories against the shorthanded Kings. They followed that up by blowing out LeBron James and the Lakers, and capped off the homestand by eking out wins against New Orleans and Denver.
No team in the NBA is able to execute at a higher level than the Nuggets, so what made Sunday’s win all the more impressive is that the Rockets outplayed them in the game’s final period. Houston started the fourth quarter on a 20-8 run after trailing 76-74 after three quarters, and were able to get enough stops as the Nuggets, led by a 36-point, 21-rebound, 11-assist night from Nikola Jokic, made their run at the end, a major sign of growth from a young team.
“The (last) two years when we were here, we were always playing so good (for) three quarters, but end of the game we were messing up,” Rockets center Alperen Sengun said. “Last year I was saying ‘we learning, we learning, we learning’, so now we’re showing it on the court.”
The NBA season is a marathon that is nowhere near its conclusion, but the Rockets were 1-8 through nine games each of the last two seasons, so sitting at 6-3, fourth place in the Western Conference after Sunday’s game is quite a step forward, though Jeff Green says they can’t grow complacent.
“We still have a lot of things we can improve on, so my message is not to get too content with the last five. We got to continue to build, continue to grow together, and the more and more we do that, the more and more we’re going to put ourself in a position at the end of the year to be in the playoffs.”
The Rockets will try to win a seventh straight game on Friday night when they visit James Harden and the Los Angeles Clippers.