Tha Sports Junkies 101

How the Rockets have won 10 straight games



The Houston Rockets have won 10 games in a row. How are they doing it?

Almost three weeks ago, on December 1st, the Houston Rockets beat the Golden State Warriors 132-127 in double overtime in one of the more exciting games of the season thus far. December 1st is also the day in which the Rockets current 10-game winning streak began. 

The Rockets are being led by MVP (and my current choice for the award) candidate, James Harden, and one of the most potent and explosive offenses in the league. 

During their 10-game win streak, the Rockets have had some easier victories, including an 18-point win in Denver, a 39-point win against the Lakers, a 22-point win against the Mavericks, a 34-point win against the Kings, and a 22-point win against the Pelicans. However, with these cupcake games have come some challenges, like the Warriors game previously mentioned, close wins against the Celtics and on the road against the Thunder, and their most recent win in overtime against the Timberwolves.

The points they have put up are incredible. They have scored at least 102 points in all 10 games, 6 games over 120, and 3 games over 130 points while also managing to keep their opponent under 100 points in 4 out of those 10. The Rockets are averaging 119.9 Points Per Game during their win streak along with an Offensive Rating of 116.9, something that has never been maintained by any team throughout an entire NBA season. In fact, their Points Per Game and Offensive Rating averages this season (113.1 and 114.3 respectively) have only been achieved 5 other times since the 1973-74 season.

Their defensive statistics rank in the middle of the pack, but their offensive rating of 114.3 is good enough for 4th in the NBA and their points per game average of 113.1 ranks 2nd.

Even with mediocre defensive stats, this team is constantly limiting their opponents scoring during their win streak. In 8 out of their 10 wins, they have held their opponent under their Offensive Rating average and they are doing so by about 4 points per game. In case that doesn’t make sense, the Warriors Offensive Rating this season is 117.9 (1st in the NBA) and in their game against the Rockets, their offensive rating was only 105.0, down almost 13 points from their average. So, on average, the Rockets have held their opponents almost 4 points below their normal offensive rating output, and doing so against some high-powered offenses.

A large part of this is due to the return of Patrick Beverley and his defensive ability and quickness. Since his return from a knee injury, the Rockets are 16-2 and during the 10-game win streak, Beverley has a defensive rating of 101.0, which would rank him as the 12th best defender in the NBA in terms of defensive rating. His offensive stats havent taken a jump in production, but when you look at who is surrounding him, all he needs to do is play excellent defense, and he’s been doing an excellent job so far.

Now to the inevitable choice for MVP that is James Harden. During the win streak, Harden has put up pretty similar numbers to the ones he has been putting up all season, averaging 25/9/11 over the last 10, including 3 triple-doubles and 3 games where he was only one rebound away from a triple-double. Harden’s numbers have been incredible, but the consistent production from the key role players is what has led to Houston’s most recent success.

Trevor Ariza currently ranks third in the NBA in total steals at 58 behind only Chris Paul and Draymond Green while also ranking in the top 20 for minutes played, as Ariza has been their go-to defender. Ariza is also ranked in the top 20 for Effective Field Goal Percentage.

Ryan Anderson is shooting a career high 40% from the three-point line while also ranking in the top 20 in Free Throw percentage.

During the 10-game win streak, Eric Gordon is shooting an amazing 49% from the field and an even crazier 52% from deep while taking over 9 threes per game. That’s insane. Playing as the 6th man during the win streak, Gordon has put on a shooting clinic each and every night, relieving pressure from Harden while spreading the floor and making the Rockets practically impossible to stop on offense.

Even 3rd year player, Clint Capela, has played some great basketball in only 21 minutes per game during the 10-game win streak, averaging 11/7 on 67% shooting while also ranking 12th in the NBA in total blocks. Capela’s athleticism and length gives him an advantage on the boards and he runs the pick and roll rather well with Harden. The Rockets ability to score from range with so many different weapons make Capela an afterthought at times, and he takes full advantage of it.

When NBA fans think of scoring trios in the NBA; Steph, Klay, and KD comes to mind first, and combined, they have made a total of 241 three-pointers this season. However, the scoring trio of Harden, Ariza, and Gordon has made a total of 267 threes. Take away Ariza and add Ryan Anderson and the total is still an astounding 263 made threes. Mike D’Antoni has this team playing at a fast pace (10th highest pace in the NBA) and their value of threes over twos is the reason they are winning games. The last two NBA Champions have proved that jump-shooting teams can win the title, and the Rockets are stretching that idea out as long as they can, and so far, it’s working.

Whether or not they can continue to live in this offensive wonderland they have created is yet to be seen. Their next game is at home against the Spurs and a win for Houston would only continue to elevate the hype surrounding this team and the “James Harden for MVP” talk.


(Stats via Basketball-Reference)