The Houston Rockets faced off against the Phoenix Suns Saturday night for the first time this season. A 107-105 loss was a step in the wrong direction toward making the playoffs, and they’ll have to be much better prepared when they take on Phoenix again Wednesday night.
For so many years, it was the Suns that were known for their high-octane offense. They played at a furious pace, they put a ton of points on the board and they made sure scoring was always the priority—never defense.
Now, that role has been adopted by the Rockets, as they brought a 106.8 points-per-game average into this contest.
You knew that Houston would score points, but the question was, could they play well enough defensively to test the ninth-worst scoring team in the league? Unfortunately for the Rockets, sloppy offense created scoring opportunities for the Suns, and a flurry of turnovers allowed the home team to score 32 fast-break points when it was all said and done.
James Harden had another brilliant offensive performance, but the problem was that nobody else in the starting lineup could say the same thing. Outside of the 23-year-old, the team shot just 37.6 percent from the field, and if you take away Carlos Delfino’s 53-percent showing, that number gets drastically worse.
Houston has three more matches against Phoenix this season, and it must play better on both sides of the court. Winning the winnable games is the first step to making the playoffs, and if it can’t do that, it’ll be on the outside looking in by the end of April.