Rookie Leads Rockets To Victory
Patrick Patterson scores career-high 20 points to help lead Houston to 108-100 win
HOUSTON - With 25 games left in their regular season, the Rockets came out of the All Star break keenly aware of the challenge laid before them should they wish to make a push for the playoffs.
First and foremost, they need to produce a strong, sustained stretch of basketball, the likes of which they have thus far been unable to deliver. And in order to do so, they require a player, or preferably players, from the bench to raise their respective games and level of play. In other words, they need someone to step up.
Patrick Patterson heard the call. And his answer was about as emphatic as they come.
While some needed time Tuesday night to shake off the post-break cobwebs, the Rockets’ rookie had no such issues, delivering his finest game as a pro to date, exploding for a career-high 20 points in just 22 minutes of play while helping to lift Houston to a much-needed 108-100 victory of the Detroit Pistons. Patterson was everywhere down the stretch, scoring points, snatching rebounds and blocking shots while catapulting his club to a 15-6 run over the game’s final four minutes as the Rockets rallied on a night when many of their starters struggled to find their usual form.
In fact, Houston’s bench actually outscored the team’s No. 1 unit Tuesday night as the Rockets’ reserves poured in 59 points in all, with Patterson leading the charge.
“I felt good,” said the University of Kentucky product. “My shot was falling for the most part. I just wanted to keep running the floor, hitting the offensive glass.
“That’s what the coaches talk to me about: they want me to play hard every possession, they want me to rebound, they want me to run. They know what I can do. I focus a lot on team defense. I’m all about my team and I want to do whatever it takes to get the win.”
What it took Tuesday night was a serious jolt of energy following a first quarter that saw Houston fall behind 28-20 while the Pistons routinely gouged the Rockets’ soft interior defense. Making matters worse, the Rockets’ usually reliable offensive stalwarts Kevin Martin and Luis Scola struggled to locate their shooting strokes, combining to hit just 8 of their 27 shots from the floor on the evening.
But the momentum began to swing in the second quarter when Patterson and the rest of the Rockets’ bench brigade made their presence felt. Instead of allowing Detroit’s players the freedom to turn the painted area into their own personal playground, the Rockets began buckling down defensively, forcing the Pistons to become much more of a jump shooting team. And as the Pistons’ misses began to pile up, the pace of the game started to quicken, adding added potency to Houston’s transition attack.
By halftime, the Rockets had knotted up the affair and a similarly-themed third quarter, with the Rockets’ starters now having joined the party, allowed Houston to take a small advantage heading into the final frame.
In the last 12 minutes, Rockets Head Coach Rick Adelman rewarded his reserves by largely allowing them to finish what they had started, so to speak. And they, along with some help from Kyle Lowry and Shane Battier, rewarded his trust, breaking open a tight game by dominating the final four minutes to ensure Houston kicked off this all important stretch with a win.
“I thought [Patterson] was just playing so well,” said Adelman after the game. “He was very active in the first-half and he was very active when he came in again. I liked the way him and Brad [Miller] were playing. Brad spaces the court and Patrick is really active and it was a good experience for him to be on the floor [at the end of the game].”
Added Lowry, who chipped in 9 points and 5 assists in just 23 minutes of play: “I think that we got over the All Star-itis, that is what it was. They came out very aggressive tonight and they came out hitting shots and we came out missing shots. But once we got our rhythm and our feet back under us then we picked it up a little bit and picked up the intensity. We got the game moving a bit faster then they wanted to.
“We needed it tonight. If we are going to make a playoff run then we have get to some of these first games and we have to get tomorrow’s game and go from there.”
RICK ADELMAN: (On the game) “It was a good win by our guys. The first quarter we didn't come out with a lot of energy, let them do what they wanted and made some mistakes, but the last three quarters we really played well.”
(On Patrick Patterson's play) “I thought he was just playing so well. He was very active in the first-half and he was very active when he came in again. I liked the way him and Brad [Miller] were playing. Brad spaces the court and Patrick is really active and it was a good experience for him to be on the floor [at the end of the game].”
(Importance of win following the All-Star Break) “We've felt urgency all year long, it's not the first time. It's important because we have seven out of nine on the road to start after the All-Star break. If we want to get back in this thing we have to win on the road. Winning this game was very important for us.”
BRAD MILLER: “It took us a little bit to get into the game, but in the end it worked out for us.”
(On Patterson’s play) “The place that he went for the All Star break is where we are going to have to send him next year before the season starts to get him ready to go. He was active tonight. He has played really good for us lately, though his numbers might not have shown it, but he is crashing the glass out there and he is realizing how good he is out there. He has some nice tip-ins tonight as well.”
(On closing out the game with bench) “It is just good for us out there. We have a lot of good people on our team, but we just haven’t been able to put it together consistently. We know certain match-ups that we have are going to be good and we all can play well so that is what we need to keep doing.”
KYLE LOWRY: (On the game) “I think that we got over the All Star-itis, that is what it was. They came out very aggressive tonight and they came out hitting shots and we came out missing shots. But once we got our rhythm and our feet back under us then we picked it up a little bit and picked up the intensity. We got the game moving a bit faster then they wanted to.”
(On good start to second half) “We needed it tonight. If we are going to make a playoff run then we have get to some of these first games and we have to get tomorrow’s game and go from there.”
(On bench play) “It was awesome. Chase (Budinger), AB (Aaron Brooks), (Courtney) Lee, (Brad) Miller and (Patrick) Patterson; you can give Patterson all the credit out there, you can say that he won the game for us tonight. He played awesome and tonight he played really hard and when you play hard good things happen to you.”
I felt good. My shot was falling for the most part. I just wanted to keep running the floor, hitting the offensive glass. Coaches and teammates kept telling me, ‘Keep playing, keep playing,’ and when my shot’s falling I’m just going to keep shooting because my confidence is up.
That’s what the coaches talk to me about: they want me to play hard every possession, they want me to rebound, they want me to run. They know what I can do. I focus a lot on team defense. I’m all about my team and I want to do whatever it takes to get the win.
Coach had us run pick and roll and since they hedged so hard, I just went to the basket and every time I went to the basket it seemed like my teammates tried to find me the ball, or if I ran in transition I’d just try to bury my man under the basket. So it seemed like my teammates were looking for me.
It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed every minute of it. Even when we were down, battling trying to regain the lead I was just having a ball out there. I love it. I was definitely enjoying being out there running up and down the court again.
(first game back after All-Star break): It’s always tough, especially that first quarter. The ball feels foreign to you, your legs feel a little wobbly – you feel fresh but you don’t feel like you have that edge and it takes a little while to get that edge back But by halftime, we got our edge back and that was the difference.
Once we had some energy plays in the second quarter – Chase had a couple great moves, Courtney was being aggressive – it sort of woke us up a bit, and then we got a lot of stops in the fourth quarter.
(Patterson’s big night): He went back to Lexington so I think he got a little home cookin’ there. He was walking around campus, driving a nice, car, buying drinks at the bar, so he probably got his confidence up.
He’s a good player and he’s going to be a good player in this league for a long time. He’s shown flashes and once he figures it out on nightly basis, he’s going to be a handful to deal with.
(Finishing in fourth quarter): Fourth quarters have given us a lot of trouble this year. We’ve had trouble shutting people down in the fourth quarter. We had a good lineup out there and just played hard. We need to make up some ground here, so we don’t care how we win games, we just need to win, period.
PISTONS HEAD COACH JOHN KUESTER: (On the game) “The first half I thought we had a nice flow to the game. We didn’t close the second quarter out and I believe it ended up being 51-51 at the half. That was disappointing going into the halftime situation. The third period our second group had the energy. They were the ones that got us back into the game and played with a sense of urgency. The only thing that occurred is that when you get into a situation you have to be so cognizant of taking care of the basketball and shot selection is so important.”
(On players stepping up) “This is one of those rare games that he (Tayshaun Prince) didn’t have it going as much. We had to have some other people step up and I thought we did. I thought we had a nice flow. I thought Chris Wilcox had a nice game. Rodney Stuckey had done some good things also attacking the basket but we just couldn’t sustain it. When you get it to that end again I talked about don’t give them easy opportunities.”
(On small lineup in fourth quarter) “We felt we could attack, we could defend with that lineup still and it ended up that wasn’t the issue. The issue was we had gotten looks but we just couldn’t finish it. I had no problems with the adjustments and again we have to be smart going down into the stretch.”
(On playoff race) “Every game is essential right now. This was a big game for us coming off the break ready to play. You have to be able to come out here and play a full 48, you just can’t play 40 minutes.”
WILL BYNUM: (On guard line-up in the fourth) “Nah, I don’t think it hurt defensively, they made shots, they made shots down the stretch when it counts. I don’t think it hurt defensively, if anything it helped.”
(On loss being difficult) “All our losses have been difficult; they’ve been pretty much the same thing every time. We have to figure out a way to execute better down the stretch and get stops. I thought we did a good job defensively, I thought they just made shots and (Patrick) Patterson kind of killed us on the boards.”
(On same patterns) “It’s disappointing, but the great thing about the NBA is we play again tomorrow and we get a chance to redeem ourselves tomorrow in Indiana.”