Rockets Get Defensive. Win 7 Out of their Last 9
Despite losing Carmelo Anthony for a good stretch with a scratched cornea, the Rockets have won 7 out of their last 9 including going 5-2 without the all-world rookie. A big reason has been a much improved defensive effort. Throughout the season, the Rockets have been struggling defensively in the half-court allowing one of the highest FG% in the league. However, with the ability to cause turnovers, coach Jeff Van Gundy has employed an aggressive half-court trapping defense limiting easier shots and forcing more turnovers. Although teams are going to the FT line more, Van Gundy prefers that compared to giving up easy baskets. This method worked against the Celtics where Boston outshot the Rockets 35 to 15 from the FT line, yet also committed 25 turnovers helping the Rockets stage a stunning 4th quarter comeback. Teams have averaged 17 turnovers in the last 9 games against the Rockets and only shooting 43% in that stretch. A big reason for the success has been Manu Ginobili who is second in the league in steals including having 7 in the win at Miami. The team will be without Anthony for 2 more weeks so sustaining the defensive effort will be key to rack up more victories.