• Print
Sunday January 16, 2011 1:00 AM

Rockets Bounce Back With Big Win

Rockets rebound from heartbreaking loss with 112-106 victory over Atlanta

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com

HOUSTON - There are some mysteries in this world that just aren’t likely to ever be solved. The origin of Stonehenge, for example. Or the inexplicable popularity of Jersey Shore.

And while the 2010-11 version of the Houston Rockets probably doesn’t quite rank in that elite class when it comes to the level of befuddlement produced, this team has certainly shown quite a knack for leaving observers scratching their heads more often than not. The latest example took place Saturday night in Atlanta, where the Rockets summarily stunned a red-hot Hawks team 112-106.

Coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss to New Orleans the night before, the Rockets arrived in Atlanta and checked into their hotel around 3 AM Saturday morning – not exactly ideal circumstances for an already downtrodden and depressed team licking its wounds after losing seven of its previous eight games.

Making their task even tougher, the Hawks came into the contest on the opposite end of the emotional and physical spectrum, having had two full days off after winning seven of their past eight games.

In other words, from a Houston perspective anyway, this game appeared to be a Saint Jude special. And when the Rockets started the third quarter by missing 12 of their first 17 shots, then saw the scorching hot Luis Scola sit down with foul trouble while the team’s deficit climbed to 9, it looked as if another bitter defeat was certain to be added to the list.

That, however, would be the predictable result. Which, as we keep learning, is not exactly how these Rockets roll.

What followed was the sort of shooting display that’s typically limited to practice sessions where there’s nary a defender in sight. Houston proceeded to drain 15 of the next 18 shots it attempted, transforming its 9-point deficit into a 13-point lead. Aaron Brooks, who only played 16 minutes the night before, led the charge, knocking down 4-of-7 from beyond the arc on the way to producing his first double-double of the season with 24 points and 10 assists. Jordan Hill, meanwhile, was a monster inside, snapping out of his recent slumber by tying a career-high with 16 points and adding 8 rebounds.

And when Atlanta made its inevitable push in the final few minutes, the Rockets simply shoved right back, with Brooks scoring 9 straight Houston points during the last 2:15 to put the game on ice. It was, quite simply, an extraordinary turnaround and performance, evoking memories of Monday’s similarly stunning victory over the Celtics in Boston.

“It shows we can win games and we can beat some of the best teams in the league,” said Kyle Lowry, who finished with 16 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. “We just have to be consistent.”

Easier said than done to be sure, especially for a team as tough to get a handle on as this one. Even the players and coaches don't quite know what to expect from this club on a night-by-night basis right now. So perhaps at this point unraveling the mystery is simply best left to the likes of the similarly mystifying Snooki and JWoww. Could they hold the answer to it all? Why not? When attempting to solve the riddle of this Rockets team, all avenues must be explored and no explanation should be considered off limits.

The truth is out there. Finding it, however, just might take awhile.

And 1s: Rockets rookie Patrick Patterson left Saturday's game during the second quarter due to congestion and chest pains, and was taken to a local hospital at halftime for precautionary tests which revealed nothing beyond flu-like symptoms. Patterson returned to Houston with the team after the game. He will be reevaluated Sunday and listed as day-to-day going forward.

QUOTES

RICK ADELMAN

“We have, in the last two years, been very resilient. That’s what I told them after the game. It just shows that we have to stay with it, because we have the potential to keep winning games. But it has to be like this. We have to finish like we did tonight. Guys stepped up tonight. Aaron had a huge game. He had a big basket when they had cut it to five or whatever. Just really proud of the way the team played after last night.”

(On Jordan Hill): “That’s what we need out of him. He rebounded tonight. He made shots around the basket. It just makes all the world of difference when we get that production.”

KYLE LOWRY

“It shows we can win games and we can beat some of the best teams in the league. We just have to be consistent.”

(On the resiliency): “Something clicks with us. We’re making shots and we get rolling, we’re a good team when we play with some confidence.”

“Aaron (Brooks) came in tonight and played awesome. He made a bunch of big three’s in the fourth quarter, big shots.”

HAWKS HEAD COACH LARRY DREW

“I think we thought we could outscore this team. Defensively, I thought we were a little soft. As I told the guys before the game, I think this Houston team is a team that plays hard, and we had to match their energy and intensity.”

“Early, defensively, we did not do a good job. We didn’t play with any kind of physicality, and we didn’t take anything away. We allowed them to back us into the paint, and score easily. We forgot, kind of, who we are. We have not been a team starting games that thinks we can outscore people. Our mindset has always been that it all starts with our defense. Tonight, we didn’t do a good job defensively. Therefore, they got on a little bit of a roll. Scola kept them in it in the first half, and then the second half, it seemed like they all started chipping in.”

JOSH SMITH

“We gave it our all tonight, but this is a team that plays extremely hard. They had a nice night. I knew when Chuck Hayes made that under the arm scoop, falling down, I knew that it was a pretty good night for them. And we’re going to have nights like that, where teams are going to be able to shoot the ball extremely well like that. You just have to live with those games.”

(On the early fourth quarter): “Too many turnovers. I think they converted all of the turnovers there early in the fourth into baskets. And that gave them momentum and confidence to be able to do it throughout the rest of the quarter.”
 
MIKE BIBBY

“They were making shots. I think we were there defensively, but they made tough shots. The ball bounces like that sometimes. You have to take the good with the bad.”

(On the layoff): “It didn’t affect us at all. They kept playing hard, and didn’t give up when we went up. When their shots were going down, ours weren’t. It happens like that sometimes. They played a good game. You definitely have to give them credit.”

Got a question for Rockets.com? Send it to Jason Friedman. And for up to the second news and injury updates follow the Rockets and Jason on Twitter.