Rockets hope to develop after following back-to-back skid | Sports


HOUSTON (AP) – During the Houston Rockets‘ 15-game skid, coach Stephen Silas wasn’t too keen on getting out and moving around town.

After leaving the schneid winning seven straight games, things have changed for the second-year coach.

“It’s exciting to walk around town and people are going to be like ‘good professional coach’,” said Silas. “There were times when I just decided to stay home, so I wouldn’t have to face (the fans). So yeah, that’s a good feeling.

The last victory in the winning streak came on Wednesday when they knocked out a Brooklyn Nets team led by former Rocket James Harden with Kevin Durant sitting down to rest.

The 114-104 triumph made the Rockets (8-18) the first team in NBA history to have a 15-game slide and a seven-game winning streak in one, much less consecutive season.

This year’s top-to-bottom performance comes after Houston slumped to the NBA’s worst record at 17-55 following the trade of Harden and most of the team’s other veterans last season.

The Rockets have lost their last two games after a winning streak, but Silas remains encouraged that his team is progressing.

“It means a lot that the message is getting through,” he said. “We knew we were going to have to grow this year and we are doing it. We grow and improve and that produces wins, which is good as a coach.

Perhaps the most impressive of Houston’s winning streak was that all but one of the wins came without rookie Jalen Green. The second overall pick in the draft has missed the last eight games with hamstring strain.

His absence has allowed some unlikely heroes to emerge in this stretch. Jae’Sean Tate scored a career-high 32 points in a 114-110 win over the Thunder and has been a consistent contributor in the other wins.

But the most surprising star for the team in the streak was Garrison Mathews, who signed a two-part contract in October.

The third-year pro averaged over 16 points in the seven wins behind a 3-point shot. Mathews had 24 3 points in that span before setting a career high with six in a loss to Milwaukee on Friday night.

“When I first came here we were on a losing streak and it was tough,” he said. “When you lose a lot of games, it’s hard to keep your spirits up. But just getting into the winning streak was a huge boost to our confidence. “

Now that the streak is over, Mathews and the rest of the Rockets are focusing on daily improvement so they don’t end up in another long slippage.

“We just have to remember that feeling and keep going on the road like that, especially when the going gets tough,” said Mathews.

The Rockets are an extremely young team and had five 19-year-olds on the roster to start the season. They are now four after Josh Christopher celebrated his 20th birthday on Wednesday scoring a career-high 18 points in the win over the Nets.

Christopher, who was the 24th overall pick in the draft, has had consistency issues so far and has been spending time in the G-League. But his performance against the Nets has given the Rockets confidence that he is focused on learning and improving.

“He’s working on his game day in and day out,” Silas said. “There were times he probably didn’t think he would stand a chance. But this league is like that, and you will always have your chance and he was ready for it.

But it wasn’t just the kids who came in big to help the Rockets in their streak of success after such a tough start. Eric Gordon, 32, one of the only veterans who was not dispatched last season, had four 20-point games in the streak. Silas also credited him with a calming influence on his young team.

“It’s all about growth,” he said. “And every time you see a streak like (we’ve had it), you see and know what it takes to win. And so, you can never forget moments like this. And you never can. forget about the previous moments when we lost all of those games because during that time it wasn’t fun.


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