Entering Thursday, the young Houston Rockets had somehow won five straight home games at Toyota Center. This week, to kick off a season-long homestand of seven games, they did it largely with defense — holding both Milwaukee and Phoenix under 100 points. That equaled their total from this season’s first 25 games, combined.
That didn’t happen in Thursday’s 111-108 loss (box score) to Miami, which ended the home-court streak. But while inconsistent, the Rockets showed flashes of that elite defensive form, particularly by pitching a literal shutout versus Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and the Heat over the final five minutes and very nearly rallying to a win.
The problems, of course, came in the first 43 minutes — when Herro scored a career-high 41 points on 13-of-20 shooting (65.0%) and an astounding 10-of-15 from 3-point range (66.7%). Jimmy Butler added 20 points (53.8% FG), 10 rebounds, and 7 assists for the Heat (15-15). But with a 9-0 run to finish the game, Houston showed enough to validate some of its recent improvements, especially on defense.
Kevin Porter Jr. had a strong game for the Rockets with 21 points on 10-of-17 shooting (58.8%) to go with 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals, but he missed his last-ditch attempt at a tying 3-pointer.
Backcourt mate Jalen Green scored a team-high 22 points but continued to struggle from 3-point range, making just 1-of-6 (16.7%) from deep. Rookie forward Jabari Smith Jr. had another double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, though he joined Green with 3-point struggles, shooting just 1-of-7 (14.3%) from behind the arc.
Scroll on for highlights, analysis and postgame interview reaction following Thursday’s game. Houston (9-19) plays the fourth game of its longest homestand of the season (seven games in total) on Saturday night versus Portland, with tipoff set for 7 p.m. Central.
Analysis and Interviews
Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire