Just over a week ago, things were looking bleak for the Rockets.
They were stumbling through a 15-game losing streak and questions were beginning to surface about whether or not second-year coach Stephen Silas is the right man for the massive rebuild the Rockets are under. But a week and a stunning four-game winning streak – which includes the first road win of the season – later and suddenly things are looking up for the home team.
The Rockets are coming off a thrilling 114-110 road win at the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night, a game in which Houston had fallen behind early and didn’t take a lead until late in the fourth quarter.
“Winning always feels way better than losing,” said Rockets small forward Jae’Sean Tate, who came through with a career night against the Thunder with a career-high 32 points to go along with 10 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks to spark the rally. “(Wednesday) we didn’t come out as well as I think we could have. We were talking about it in the huddle not getting complacent. Just because we won three we still had to continue to play hard and continue to be that team that got us here.
“I think we finally got that turned on in the second half but that’s a learning experience, we still have to come out and be the aggressors and that’s what we are going to continue to have to do.”
Being aggressive is what has put the Rockets on their first winning stretch during the early part of the season. The Rockets (5-16), snapped their 15-game losing skid when they defeated the Bulls 118-113 on Nov. 24. They followed that up with a 146-143 overtime win over Charlotte and then back-to-back wins against the Thunder this week.
Power forward Christian Wood has been a major part of the turnaround, contributing double-doubles in each of the first three games of the winning streak before suffering an ankle injury in the first half of Wednesday night’s game. The Rockets have also received impressive contributions during this stretch from players like Kevin Porter Jr., Jalen Green, Daishen Nix, Alperen Sengun, Danuel House, Jalen Green and Armoni Brooks.
Silas is glad to see his team finally get some confidence with an impressive run, but he is especially proud of Wednesday night’s win which came on the road, when the Rockets were down and without two of their better players with Wood and Porter both suffering injuries in that game.
“Especially the way we did it,” said Silas, whose team returns home to take on Orlando at Toyota Center on Friday night. “We were down the whole game and then found a way through adversity, (Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) playing so well and attacking us and getting to the free throw line. But we just stayed with it and stayed with it.
“On the road it’s harder to do than at home. So, we got off the little streak on the road and now we are about to go home for a few more so it’s good.”
But Silas isn’t quite ready to call it a turnaround, as there will certainly be more bumps in the road with such a young squad. But he hopes the current streak will give the Rockets the confidence to fight through the tough stretches that are sure to come.
The Rockets still sit at the bottom for the Western Conference but no longer lead Detroit for the NBA’s worst record.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Silas said. “We are executing down the stretch which we weren’t doing earlier. We have trust and faith and know how it seems down the stretch, but this is Game 21 so for us to learn during this season is important. It’s taken us a while to kind of get to these points where it looks like we are starting to kind of get it, but 20 games isn’t very much.
“It’s just good to finish a game like (the Thunder game) and to finish the way we finished the Hornets game and the Chicago game, as well. It’s good stuff. We are just going to keep grinding.”
Follow Terrance Harris on Twitter @terranceharris