For the second time in three games, the Houston Rockets new small-ball experiment delivered a thriller, but unlike their post-deadline debut against the Lakers, they weren’t able to pull out a victory.
The Rockets played host to the Jazz and once again Russell Westbrook had a monster night with all the space he now has to operate with 39 points, six rebounds, and four assists. His final assist of the night seemed as though it would be for the game-winner, as he found P.J. Tucker in the corner and the league’s preeminent corner three specialist did not miss, giving Houston a two-point lead with 1.6 seconds on the clock.
— NBA (@NBA) February 10, 2020
It was a gorgeous pass from Westbrook and a timely shot from Tucker who had nine points on a perfect 3-of-3 night from beyond the arc, but the celebration in Houston was premature. That’s because Bojan Bogdanovic, who had just five points in the first 47:58.4 of the game was waiting to rip out the hearts of the Rockets. Bogdanovic caught the inbounds running right across the top of the key and hoisted a deep, contested three between James Harden and Tucker, and found nothing but net.
It is a definite candidate for the buzzer-beater of the year in the NBA, if not the frontrunner right now. Tucker and Harden do a great job of contesting from both sides without fouling, but he somehow finds the space to rise and fire and turn a rough shooting night into an unforgettable one.
It’s a big win for Utah, keeping them ahead of the Rockets in the standings by 1.5 games at 34-18 and in fourth place in the West. While it’s a tough loss for the Rockets, they’ve showed that they’re still going to be a tough out with their new small-ball approach and that they can hang with possible bigger teams they’ll face in the postseason like the Lakers and Jazz despite their lack of size in the middle.