How sweet it is! 21 in a row! The elder statesman of the Rockets, Dikembe Mutombo, hugs Tracy McGrady after a historic game that gave the Rockets the 2nd-longest win streak in NBA history. Unfathomable.
Below, coach Rick Adelman joins his players in a moment of solidarity.
Click here for more photos from the game.
I just can’t get over what is going on with the Rockets. It’s hard for me to go to sleep, yet I know the amount of time it would take for me to write everything I’m thinking would not be good for my health, especially since I have to leave for the airport in the morning. So I hope to post more of my thoughts by late Saturday night after a long day of flying to the West Coast.
Because it’s hard for me to get to bed, I have done something unprecedented to commemorate this momentous occasion. As time-consuming as it is to do after a game, I have uploaded some of the national TV coverage from ESPN talking about the Rockets’ winning streak. Please go to the bottom of this post to see those videos (you might have to click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link). I think you’ll really like them.
But for now, I do have a few things to write:
Never in our lifetime could we see again what we have seen these past several weeks.
The Charlotte Bobcats gave everything they had Friday night to keep the Rockets from making history, a quest to become the 2nd-longest winning streak in league history — 21 in a row.
The fact Houston had to scratch and claw to get an 89-80 win makes getting the record that much sweeter. The players and fans had to sweat out every possession, the players had to overcome a 13-point deficit in the second quarter (their largest deficit during the streak), they overcame poor shooting from the field (40.9%) and very bad free throw shooting (57%), and they faced very underrated superstars in Jason Richardson (28 points) and Emeka Okafor (23 points) who wanted to show they can beat the best.
But Tracy McGrady put on an amazing display of determination and stamina, playing all 48 minutes to score 30 points on 12-of-25 shooting, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. Without him, the Rockets lose this game. Plain and simple. There were other players who stepped up, who I hope to write about on my next post to give them justice.
But first and foremost, McGrady is playing like Dwyane Wade in the NBA Finals two years ago. It’s such a beautiful thing to witness. A guy who has been much maligned in his career is proving to his critics what he’s made of. I’ve never seen a more determined McGrady in my life. His finest moments have come during this streak.
Rocket fans will never forget this streak, which may come to an end Sunday against the hyped up Lakers, even without Pau Gasol in the lineup because of a sprained ankle from Friday night. Kobe is playing out of his mind, as always. It’s going to be an awesome match-up. A game for the ages.
But a few more thoughts about this historic streak. I am ecstatic the Rockets took care of business and won every game they could have been expected to win before these next 5 games they play against playoff contenders.
I don’t think Rocket fans have felt this good since the Rockets went up 2-0 against Dallas in that playoff series 3 seasons ago. We all know how that turned out. But regardless of what happens this season with the Rockets, they have shown more determination in winning the last 9 games without Yao Ming than I have seen from a Rockets team since 1995.
This game felt like a playoff atmosphere from the beginning. The stands were full and all the fans were into it. If it could only be like that all the time when the Rockets aren’t on big winning streaks.
Okay, below are those videos I recorded from ESPN’s “NBA Fastbreak” show. The first video includes an interview of McGrady after the game in front of Houston’s fans (sounds similar to when they won an NBA championship in ’94 and ’95!) as well as comments from Rick Carlisle, former NBA coach with Indiana and Detroit, who gives massive props to the Rockets (if you just want to read Carlisle’s comments, please see my transcription below the video):
Carlisle is asked the question, “Just how crazy is this (the streak)?” He responds:
“It’s insane. If you have coached in the league like I have, if you have played in the league like Mash (fellow commentator Jamal Mashburn) has at a high level, you know how difficult it is to win ONE game in this league. You’re playing against great players, great coaching, you’re in difficult buildings. So this is just an unbelievable stretch that the Houston Rockets are showing us right now.
“The 3 things that they’re doing:
“Great defense. Leading the league over this period of time. Allowing about 40% field goal shooting, keeps them in games when shots aren’t going in.
“They’re able to play from in front at an unprecedented level so they’re almost never behind.
“And the third thing is the emergence of Tracy McGrady. Not only as a great scorer and a great basketball player, but a tremendous leader, and he has put this team on his back. Particularly over the last 2 games where they have had to play from behind, and really imposed his will.”
The video below shows the mainstream media (at least ESPN) really respects what the Rockets are doing. It’s so well done, it makes me feel even more proud of what the Rockets have accomplished:
More to come about this win before the Rockets play the Lakers on Sunday.