The Houston Rockets coasted to a 118 – 99 win over the Atlanta Hawks which improved their record to 60-14 for the season. Their win the night before over the New Orleans Pelicans broke their franchise record for wins in a regular season. The 60th win the following night was meaningful in that it met the team’s regular season win goal.
Coach Mike D’Antoni congratulated the team on breaking the franchise record and he recalled to media, “They didn’t care. I’m happy. I thought it was nice. They absolutely did not care.”
Of course they didn’t care because they are focused on winning a title.
MVP front-runner James Harden explained, “It’s a good team accomplishment in the regular season, but we’ve got bigger goals than that. So it’s just a step to where we want to go.”
D’Antoni went on to say, “That’s good that they don’t care. They want it all. … They know what’s at stake, and they know what we need to do. They know what we’ll be judged on in the playoffs.”
Even though the Rockets’ regular season accomplishments aren’t a big deal to the team, it’s kind of a big deal. They have had an incredible season thus far. Not only do they sit at the top of the Western Conference; the number one seed overall is pretty much a lock for them. Harden is also well en route to his first MVP honor though he has deserved it in years past. He has remained the MVP front-runner for the entire season and with an 18 point, 15 assist, and 10 rebound performance, he punctuated the win over the Hawks with the 35th triple-double of his career.
The Rockets have begun yet another winning streak sitting at 9. With a win against the Chicago Bulls they will have had 3 winning streaks of 10+ for the season.
As the season draws to a close, it’s clear that the Rockets have a very specific outcome desired and that is TOTAL DOMINATION OF THE NBA aka winning the NBA Championship. The Rockets get no love outside of the city of Houston. This has quickly become a make it or break it year for a few members on the squad.
Harden, who is fighting the ghost of Western Conference Finals’ past, wants to prove that his skills translate into the post-season. That game 6 against the Spurs has been following him around long enough and he’s ready to shake it off. Chris Paul, who hasn’t made it past the second round of the playoffs, is finally on a squad that is capable and determined to do so. Both of these guys have something to prove, and they will.
In a league where the Golden State Warriors are revered as the best team in the league, the Monstars of the NBA; a league where LeBron James is always a threat to the throne no matter what he has around him; there is always a chance and the Rockets know this. A little over a decade ago, a duo by the name of Kobe and Shaq, who repped the Los Angeles Lakers, were the ones to beat. Legend has it that a group of Detroit Pistons that included Ben Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups were considered the underdog…going up against a team with four future Hall of Famers. Welp, they got it done.
Even though the Rockets shouldn’t be considered an underdog after having the most incredible season in the franchise’s history, the naysayers will continue to nay and the goal posts will continue to be moved back. But alas, the Rockets will dig deep and Detroit Pistons (03’-04’) their way to a championship.