Hustle for the Win
Hustle for the Win
By Ryan Wheeler
March 13, 2017
On Sunday night the Houston Rockets defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 117–112. This win evened the season series at 1–1 with both home teams winning. At several points during the game the Cavs seemed like they were going to take control, as World Champions are wont to do; however, the dominance never materialized as turnovers and overall hustle gave the Rockets the win.
The Rockets shot worse in every category in this matchup including FG, Free Throws and 3 pointers. But shooting did not win this game.This basketball game was won by will and determination. Watching the second half the energy and hustle of the Rockets was evident in every player on the floor. Yes, the individual brilliance of James Harden eurostepping through the lane for another triple double (37pts, 10 reb., 11 assists) wins the headlines but the team effort won the game.
During the 3rd and 4th quarter the Rockets amassed offensive rebound after offensive rebound for 20 total in the game, compared to only 4 for the Cavs. One sequence saw no less than 3 offensive rebounds and 4 missed shot attempts. Nene, Clint Capela, Pat Beverley and even Harden grabbed boards for second possessions routinely. In fact only Sam Dekker (5 minutes played) was the only Rocket without an offensive rebound. The crowd became voluminous with each new possession & hoisted 3 pointer and was primed to erupt. The Houston energy players did all of the little things necessary to take down a juggernaut while Harden did the heavy lifting.
For this season the Rockets seem to have the perfect system and coach, the right superstar and a collection of role players that embody their job duties. For the Rockets, the goal must be at least the Western Conference Finals and a meeting with the GSW’s. Houston may have hit upon a perfect formula for an NBA championship in 2017: voluminous 3 point attempts and simply expending more hustle and energy than the other team. Quality shooting will always keep a team in games but desire means just as much as skill. If the Cavs can beat the Warriors with grit and the Rockets can beat the Cavs by more of the same, then the conclusion to this equation is that the Rockets can defeat the vaunted Warriors and bring the Larry O’Brien trophy back to Clutch City, TX.