In Orlando, the Rockets put the Lakers and ‘everyone on notice,’ according to an analyst.


In Orlando, the Rockets put the Lakers and ‘everyone on notice,’ according to an analyst.

The Rockets came back from tough losses to start the NBA season in Orlando with a pair of close victories, one in overtime against Dallas and the other by four points over the Bucks, the league’s best team. Houston is now only a half-game behind Denver for the No. 3 seed in the conference. More importantly, it has some wondering that the Rockets could pose a strong challenge in the West to the rumored Lakers-Clippers conference finals matchup.

On Monday, ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith expressed this sentiment. Smith stated that the Bucks’ victory put “everyone on notice,” particularly the Lakers and Clippers.

Here’s what Smith had to say on First Take:

You win this game because Russell Westbrook, being the ace that he is, creates perimeter opportunities for other players. Despite the fact that James Harden did not have his best game, Houston was able to win this game. This is a huge issue for the Houston Rockets, and I believe it has put everyone on notice. This matchup between the Lakers and the Clippers, which everyone has been looking forward to all year… if Houston ends up facing the Los Angeles Lakers, we might have a problem. In a positive way. Because Houston has the potential to knock them off their perch.

The Rockets’ victory over the Bucks was particularly impressive.

Before the NBA returned from its four-month coronavirus sabbatical, the Rockets were a popular darkhorse bet. Houston boasts two past MVPs in Harden and Westbrook, but even before the league’s punishment, it was Westbrook who was carrying the heavier responsibility. Westbrook has averaging 32.1 points on 52.4 percent shooting in his last 24 games, scoring 31 in each of the Rockets’ two games in the Orlando bubble. In 17 of the 24 games, he scored more than 30 points.

The Rockets’ triumph over Milwaukee was even more stunning because all of their flaws were exposed and they still managed to beat the league’s best. The Bucks outrebounded the Rockets 65-39 and dominated in the paint, scoring 60 points compared to only 20 for Houston. The Rockets, on the other hand, gladly launched a league-record tying 61 3-point attempts, making 21 of them, paving the path to victory.

Rockets’ chances of a comeback are favored by Morey and the coaches.

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