NBA basketball is back with a bang! All summer the debate has been raging around the new look Houston Rockets, and whether the additional of All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the lineup will elevate the Rockets to a level where they can compete for a championship.
Facing off against an energized Golden State Warriors, only moments after the 2016-17 NBA Champions received their championship rings, for the Rockets, walking out of Oracle Arena with a win was going to take something special, and following an impressive 4th quarter run Houston were able to take down the defending champs in dramatic fashion.
“The feeling in the locker room was great” Luc Mbah a Moute boasted as he sat by his locker post game. “It was thanks to our resilience I think. They came out gunning and made a lot of shots, but we stuck with it and kept fighting – finally in that 4th quarter we were able to make plays, get some stops and cut down on the lead.”
“It just feels good to start the season off with a good win like that. “
In an interesting rotation decision, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni ran the entire game only utilizing 8 of his players, opting to sit out big man Nene among several others. Running a small lineup to match firepower with firepower makes sense for Houston, but Mbah a Moute says that wasn’t necessarily the plan heading into the matchup.
“Sometimes that’s just how the game goes” remarks Mbah a Moute. “They’re a tough team so you’ve got to find the right combination of guys to match up with them. Tonight we only ended up playing 8, but there are going to be nights like that, and we have to be ready for whatever’s out there.”
“I’m just glad the guys we had on the floor out there were able to get us the win.”
As the Rockets build momentum throughout their 4th quarter resurgence, Ryan Anderson and PJ Tucker made some big-time plays knocking down the three-ball and propelling their Rockets closer to stealing the win away from the home team. Mbah a Moute says that spacing the floor and being able to find the open man to hit those shots has been a big focus since Chris Paul was added to the roster during the off-season.
“That’s our Offense. We space the floor we shoot the 3’s and we get to the basket. We’ve got playmakers like James [Harden] and Chris [Paul] driving the floor, which makes it easier to make shots because they draw so much attention – the way we rotate we have guys like Eric [Gordon] and Trevor [Ariza] out there who can really shoot too.”
“There’s always opportunity, and we have a lot of good shooters – our offense is clicking, and we can make shots”
“Can they play defense though?” has been a hot topic throughout the summer amongst NBA fans and the media, however, the 4th quarter effort from Houston was a statement about what we can expect from the team this season.
“They got a lot of points in transition, and we still got confused a lot of times.” Says Mbah a Moute.
“In the first half, they got a lot of threes – Nick [Young] came in and hit 5 threes, but those were mistakes that we felt like in the second half we could correct.” Mbah a Moute continues, “We started running back in transition and fix the mistakes, which really helped us.”
“I think overall, yeah they only scored 20 in the 4th, but our defense could have been better earlier in the game – I’m just glad it got better as the game went along and helped us get the win at the end. “
Feature Image: The Sporting News