The Rockets’ finally looked like their usual selves in yesterday’s Game 5 against the Clippers, pushing downhill offensively and attacking the rim aggressively off the dribble.
Having not lost three straight games at any stage this season, Kevin McHale’s troops were not about to go down without a fight.
It was a game of firsts. James Harden’s first playoff triple double. Josh Smith’s first start of the postseason. Corey Brewer’s first game with 15+ points for the series (he scored 15+ four times vs Dallas in the opening round).
One thing happened for the Rockets, however, that wasn’t a first: Jason Terry scored in double digits.
Terry is one of only four players to have scored in double figures in every game this series (the others being James Harden, Blake Griffin and Trevor Ariza), and Terry has done so at nearly 50% from the floor. Not bad for an old dog!
Acquired initially to play behind defensive point guard Patrick Beverley, Terry has done an excellent job for the Rockets as the starting PG this postseason. Against tough competition too! At the beginning of the postseason, 12 of the 16 playoff teams were entering their series with a point guard who has been an All Star at some stage in their career. Only Milwaukee, Boston, Memphis and Houston were not.To say that JT is the perfect fit for this Rockets unit is an understatement. He is an elite shooter, having made the third most career three-pointers in NBA history (trailing only Ray Allen and Reggie Miller), who can take advantage of the extra space created by Dwight Howard and James Harden.
But, perhaps more importantly, Terry has been a vital veteran influence in the Houston locker room.
Terry has won championships at both the collegiate and pro levels, but that alone is not enough to lead this band of Texans. Crucially, he is also a big kid; tattooing championship trophies on his arm before the beginning of seasons, among other things. This allows him to mix it up with this light-hearted line-up. It seems to give him an ‘in’ and thus give his words more authority and impact.
Watch him on the bench, before timeouts and during the exchange of substituted players; Jet’s always vocal and often in the ears of younger players like Terrence Jones, veterans like Ariza and Smith as well as All-Stars Harden and Howard.
The title of Houston’s vocal leader may be a slight overstatement, but Jason Terry’s role in counselling these Rockets through the playoffs has been important.