Houston Rockets coach Stephen Silas was encouraged by how his team responded after falling behind by double digits in the last two games.
But Silas is hoping for a better start Monday when the Rockets visit the Oklahoma City Thunder for the first of two games there.
“I wish we were starting games better, really,” Silas said. “At least we’re fighting back. That’s one of the things I love about this group — their competitiveness. Hopefully at some point, we won’t have to get down so much early, but we’re going to fight back.”
Houston has won five in a row to climb back to .500 for the first time since early January.
In Thursday’s 104-101 win over Portland, the Rockets trailed by 20 in the first quarter before erasing that deficit by halftime and pulling off the win.
Saturday night, Houston was down by 11 in the first quarter at New Orleans before using a 48-point second-quarter outburst to take control.
It was the third-most points the Rockets had ever scored in a quarter.
“That’s a testament to our defense,” John Wall said. “We got out, got stops, we’re running in transition, was communicating on both ends of the floor. And that makes our team better. When we’re committed on the defensive end with all five guys, we’re a tough team to compete against because that gets us out in transition, lets us get pace into the game.”
Victor Oladipo, acquired in the mid-January trade of James Harden to Brooklyn, has keyed the Rockets’ recent resurgence.
He’s averaging 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists in six games with Houston.
“We have a bunch of guys who love to play basketball and they’re fighters,” forward P.J. Tucker said. “Even the games we get down … you’ve got to expect us to come back because we got a lot of guys with a lot of pride and they’re going to fight every single night and try to win.”
The Thunder are coming off a 147-125 loss to Brooklyn on Friday night, the most points the franchise has allowed in regulation since moving to Oklahoma City in 2008.
One encouraging sign to come out of that game for the Thunder was the play of rookie Theo Maledon, who has started the last three games with George Hill out with a sprained right thumb.
Maledon made 8 of 9 shots from the floor against the Nets, hitting all six 3-pointers he attempted to tie an NBA rookie record for most 3-pointers without a miss.
“I think he’s capable of that more often,” Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said. “Works hard. Does the right things. The basketball gods are just rewarding him.”
Maledon is averaging 13.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists since moving into the starting lineup and has just four turnovers in 85 minutes.
Hill’s absence has allowed Maledon, who has normally served as Gilgeous-Alexander’s backup, to adjust to a new role.
“He’s a point guard,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “But that doesn’t mean he can’t play on the court with another one.”
–Field Level Media