The losing streak for the Houston Rockets (1-12) is now at 11 games after Sunday’s 115-89 blowout loss (box score) to visiting Phoenix. The Suns (9-3), who were led by 26 points and 6 assists from perennial All-Star guard Devin Booker, have now won eight straight games overall.
With the likes of Booker and Chris Paul leading the way, the Suns are the defending Western Conference champions, whereas the rebuilding Rockets have numerous rotation players at 21 years old or younger. Those dynamics were on full display on Sunday night at Toyota Center, where Houston wrapped up a winless three-game homestand.
Christian Wood led the Rockets with 17 points, while rookie big man Alperen Sengun (10 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists) had the first double-double of his young NBA career. However, the young backcourt of Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green combined for 10 turnovers while shooting just 9-of-29 from the field (31.0%) and 2-of-13 on 3-pointers (15.4%).
See below for highlights, statistics, and player analysis, with grades limited to players who played rotation minutes. Now on a back-to-back, Houston has a very quick turnaround before its next game on Monday at Memphis (6-7), where tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Central.
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Alperen Sengun (A): 10 points, 4-of-7 shooting (57.1%), 10 rebounds, 4 assists; plus/minus of -1 in 22 minutes
The Rockets clearly played better with Sengun on the floor, with the rookie big man showcasing an impressive combination of passing ability, footwork on the low block, and shooting touch around the paint.
Head coach Stephen Silas suggested postgame that changes to the starting lineup were a possibility, and if that’s the case, Sengun in place of Daniel Theis at center would seem to be a real option.
Good but Not Great (B’s)
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Christian Wood (B): 17 points, 7-of-12 shooting (58.3%), 1-of-5 on 3-pointers (20.0%), 2-of-4 free throws (50.0%), 8 rebounds, 4 turnovers; plus/minus of -18 in 27 minutes
Eric Gordon (B): 12 points, 5-of-10 shooting, 2-of-4 on 3-pointers (50.0%), 3 assists, 3 rebounds; plus/minus of +5 in 22 minutes
KJ Martin (B+): 6 points, 3-of-6 shooting (50.0%), 2 blocks, 1 steal, 1 rebound; plus/minus of -3 in 17 minutes
In a game where Houston was blown out, they still won the minutes that Gordon played. That reflects the veteran guard’s improved efficiency in a season where he’s now shooting better than 45% on 3-pointers. Wood broke out of a recent shooting slump, but the big man still had some head-scratching turnovers while misfiring on free throws and treys.
Martin’s stats don’t jump off the page, but his energy clearly made an impact on a night when many Rockets looked lethargic.
Needs Improvement (C’s or worse)
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Daniel Theis (D): 8 points, 3-of-5 shooting (60.0%), 2-of-4 on 3-pointers (50.0%), 1 rebound; plus/minus of -26 in 19 minutes
Jalen Green (D): 12 points, 4-of-14 shooting (28.6%), 0-of-6 on 3-pointers, 2 assists, 4 turnovers; plus/minus of -32 in 29 minutes
Kevin Porter Jr. (C): 12 points, 5-of-15 shooting (33.3%), 2-of-7 on 3-pointers (28.6%), 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 turnovers; plus/minus of -19 in 32 minutes
Jae’Sean Tate (C-): 0 points, 0-of-2 shooting, 5 rebounds, 1 block; plus/minus of -30 in 21 minutes
Danuel House Jr. (C): 4 points, 1-of-5 shooting (20.0%), 5 rebounds, 2 assists; plus/minus of +5 in 20 minutes
Green and Porter struggled to shoot and combined for 10 turnovers. Theis had 1 rebound in 19 minutes and was largely matched up with JaVale McGee, who grabbed 14 rebounds in 25 minutes for Phoenix. The Rockets clearly improved when Sengun was inserted at center in place of Theis, and in a season that already seems to be spiraling out of control, it’s also hard to explain why an inefficient veteran like House is playing ahead of younger wing options like Armoni Brooks and KJ Martin.