Having reached the point that the biggest issue in the losing streak had become persevering through the losing streak, the Rockets had grown hungry — no, famished — for a win, any win.
The Rockets could have the familiar issues of the losing streak. They could need the Charlotte Bobcats to turn back into the Bobcats down the stretch Monday. They could bench starters and shoot badly and turn Kemba Walker into a miniature version of team owner Michael Jordan, with Jeremy Lin backing off until Walker looked like he was in pregame warm-ups.
None of that mattered. Not after seven consecutive, mostly agonizing losses.
The Rockets were far from repaired. But after they did just enough to head home with a 100-94 win and without the yoke of a seven-game losing streak around their necks, they considered the win the necessary first step to turning things around.
"I feel like we just won the championship," said guard James Harden, who scored 12 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter. "To get this off our back and go back home with a little bit of confidence and try to get our swagger back, it feels good."
For a large chunk of the afternoon, the game seemed destined to be more of the same. With a lack of practice time and an abundance of fatigue in a stretch of nine games in 14 days, all the shortcomings and bad habits that had been suppressed had climbed to the surface and taken over. With each loss, pressure mounted, and the issues became insurmountable.
"It's really important, man, because it was all weighing on us," said Lin, who went 1-for-5 and took just one second-half shot. "It was all we were talking about. It was just terrible.
"To get it off is just a huge, huge sigh of relief. Like seriously, everybody here can breathe and be like, 'OK, all right, back to normal.' We need to address what we need to address, but we don't have to feel like there is a big elephant in the room."
Rockets edge Bobcats to end seven-game losing streak
Houston Chronicle | Jan 22