|Posted by coryinhouston on January 9, 2013 at 3:10 PM|
If you had said before the season started that the Rockets would be primed for a playoff push and the Lakers would be 4 games under .500, nobody would believe you. But the Rockets are sitting at 6th in the West while the Lakers are struggling at 11th. The lowest salaried team in the NBA beat the highest salaried team Tuesday night, giving the Rockets a 2-1 series lead against the Lakers and winning their 4th straight home game against them.
The Rockets have been struggling for an identity ever since Yao Ming went down with a foot injury and was forced to retire. Houston tried to collect assets and find an identity, awkwardly trying to rebuild and contend at the same time. Three straight years of finishing 9th in the West, barely missing the playoffs each time. It was a mediocre period, not good enough to contend and not bad enough to draft at high positions.
But then the trade happened. James Harden landed in Houston. Immediately everyone knew this changed the Rockets culture; they finally had a star to build around. Already Harden has tied Moses Malone's record for 13 straight games of 25 or more points in a Rockets uniform and looks to break that record Wednesday night against the Hornets.
Harden's impact on this team wasn't expected so fast. The consensus was the Rockets were a team of future, as they had the lowest owed salary in the NBA, and were also the youngest team in the NBA. But they are ballin' with the best of them.
The average age of the Rockets is 23.7, compared to the Spurs at 28, and the Knicks at 31.3.
As for owed salary, the Rockets owe their players $50,199,345 for the 2012-2013 season. The Lakers? $100,166,250.
Houston is currently 21-14 and on a 5 game winning streak. They are 14-6 in Houston, although struggling a bit on the road at 7-8. They are jokingly wishing they could change conferences like their sports neighbor the Astros, as they are 14-2 against Eastern Conference teams, even playing Miami down to the wire!
January will be a test for this young team. Out of the 16 games they are scheduled to play, 12 of them are on the road. This team will continue to grow and get better. They are young, but still competing. As for the future? This team has enough cap space to sign a max deal to a free-agent next summer. Landing another star to play with James Harden? Scary.