Snapping the skid: Three takeaways from Friday’s 121-115 win over the Pistons

Mar 31, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. (3) celebrates Jalen Green (4) basket against the Detroit Pistons in the second half at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Snapping the skid: Three takeaways from Friday’s 121-115 win over the Pistons

Kevin Porter Jr and Jalen Green combined to score 65 points as the Rockets ended their seven-game losing streak with a 121-115 win over the Pistons. The Rockets trailed by one after three quarters but outscored the Pistons 30-23 in the fourth thanks to 20 free throw attempts. Alperen Sengun added 15 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists for the Rockets, who are now one win away from matching their total from last season.

Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr play well on the same night

It seems rare both Rockets guards play well on the same night, but that happened on Friday. Porter finished with 33 points on 12-of-20 shooting, while Green scored 30 on 10-of-18 from the field, and they combined to score 26 points in the third quarter. It’s the first time all season both have scored 30 points in the same game.

“They were playing off each other, and they were playing downhill,” Rockets head coach Stephen Silas said. “If they drew the second defender, they’d make the play to the other one. I think we saw a lot less of them kind of bouncing things out. And more of them just attacking and making the reads.”

Porter has scored 30 points in back-to-back games for the first time all season, and over the last three games, he’s averaging 30 points on 55% shooting over the last three games.

Living at the free throw line

The Rockets shot just 35% in the fourth quarter, but they still managed to score 30 points because they found a way to get to the free throw line non-stop. They attempted 20 free throws in the quarter and a season-high 45 for the game.

“It showed an aggressiveness as far as playing downhill,” Stephen Silas said. “It showed an aggressiveness as far as getting to the glass consistently. We were running that two-man action and it’s easy to get caught standing and watching in those situations when you have just two guys in the action, but they stayed in it.”

The two-man action Silas was referring to was between Green and Porter, but while Green attempted 16 of the Rockets’ free throws, others found a way to get to the line, even though they weren’t as involved in the offense, most notably, K.J. Martin, who finished with 15 points, despite attempting just six shots. He attempted 12 free throws, which is a career-high.

Boban zone works wonders

The Pistons’ offense was quite comfortable for much of the night against the Rockets’ man-to-man defense, so after a Marvin Bagley III fast break layup with 3:27 left in the third quarter, Silas called timeout and switched things up. He subbed in Boban Marjanovic for the first time and went to a zone. In the eight minutes he was on the floor, the Rockets outscored the Pistons by six, most notably in the fourth quarter, where the Pistons were 2-for-8 when Marjanovic was on the floor.

“(Marjanovic’s) minutes were huge,” Silas said. “When we went to the zone, he was great. He manned the middle, made it a little bit harder for them. Took them out of their rhythm, they were getting a rhythm in the pick and roll game took, and he took them out of their rhythm.”

Next up

The Rockets will play the second game of their three-game homestand when LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers visit Toyota Center on Sunday.

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