Kevin McHale on his team's comeback win
When the Rockets wrapped up their win Friday night against the Mavericks, they hopped on a plane for their Saturday night game in Utah for their first road game of the season. While they arrived as expected after the three hour flight, it didn't seem like the Rockets actually showed up at the game until the first 24 minutes had been played.
Despite trailing by as many as 19 points in the first half, the Rockets orchestrated a huge comeback and stayed undefeated, winning 104-93 in Utah.
Houston scored the first three points of the game, before watching the Jazz easily score the next ten and it looked like the rout was on. Over the course of the first half, the Rockets could not hang onto the ball, could not shoot straight and could not control the boards. Controlling the boards, actually dominating the boards is exactly what they did in their first two wins over Charlotte and Dallas.
"We were a step slow in the first half," head coach Kevin McHale said. "We struggled. The third quarter really turned it around."
No question about it. Houston trailed 56-40 at the half, despite Chandler Parsons scoring 20 points. However, his teammates contributed the same amount, thus the large deficit.
"That was a big test for us," Parsons said. "When you get down like that, a lot of teams will call it quits. At halftime. we came together and we talked about it. There is no way we should lose this game. I thought we showed a lot of resiliency in the second half."
The third quarter was the key as McHale suggested. They used a 20-4 run to start the second half, which tied the game at 60. That run lasted over six and half minutes so clearly their defense and rebounding had finally shown up.
They were outrebounded in the first half 27-12. They posted nearly the exact opposite numbers in the second half, outrebounding Utah 28-12. The Jazz also made only 32 percent of their shots in the second half, compared to 49 percent in the first half.
The Rockets still wouldn't grab their first lead of the second half until the final minute of the third quarter and it Francisco Garcia, who got it done with the first of three 3-pointers he would hit over a four minute span.
The late third quarter triple pushed the Rockets ahead 73-71, but it wasn't until Jeremy Lin's 3-pointer with 5:46 left in the game that the Rockets would grab the lead for good.
Lin took a cross-court pass from Parsons and drilled his 3-pointer from the wing and after an Omer Asik block on the following possession, Lin took the ball right down the court to the goal against a couple of Jazz defenders. He missed the layup, but Parsons was their to tip it in and the Rockets led 95-90.
"When the ball's in my hands, I just try to make the best play possible," Parsons said. "I definitely wanted to get my teammates involved."
Parsons had 12 rebounds and six assists on the night, with four of those assists coming in the fourth quarter.
The Jazz got within three briefly, but really did not threaten the rest of the way.
With the Spurs loss in Portland on Friday night, the Rockets are now one of five remaining undefeated teams in the NBA.