Friday, March 14, 2008

Rockets' Streak By The Numbers, From 1 To 20

Wednesday night in Atlanta, the Houston Rockets defeated the Hawks 83-75 to extend their improbable winning streak to 20 games. The run is tied with the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks for second-best in NBA history. It remains to be seen how long the streak will last. In the meantime, here’s a by-the-numbers look at the streak, from 1 to 20.

1: Division 1 college teams (Davidson) with a current winning streak of at least 20 games. But they play in the Southern Conference, not the Western Conference.

2: Career regular season 3-point attempts for 41-year-old Dikembe Mutombo, who missed both. He should try a few in tonight’s game – the way the Rockets are going, he’d drain ‘em like Reggie Miller.

3: Games among their last eight in which Houston has held the opponent to 75 points or less. The highlight was a 94-69 rout of Washington, in which Luther Head led the Rockets with 18. The combination of 69, Head, and Washington begs for an Eliot Spitzer reference.

4: Teams (Pacers, Cavaliers, Hawks, and Hornets) the Rockets have beaten twice during the streak. Cleveland and New Orleans are actually good. On the other hand, playing Indiana and Atlanta multiple times is how streaks are made.

5: Consecutive games in double figures for forward Carl Landry, before missing the last three contests with an injury. Carl Landry and “Rockets” reminds me of Carl Lewis “And the rockets’ red glare…” Somewhere, Charley Steiner is laughing.

6: Month of the year represented by June, when Houston hopes to still be playing.

7: Seasons in which first-year head coach Rick Adelman has guided his team to at least the second round of the NBA playoffs. Tracy McGrady, you can learn from this guy!

8: Consecutive victories Houston has had without Yao Ming. His season-ending injury could be a blessing in disguise. No team has won the NBA championship with a 7’6” Chinese guy.

9: Zero hour for a Rocket Man, according to Elton John. Sir Elton doesn’t know his hoops – nobody tips off at 9AM.

10: Current win streak for the Boston Celtics. Slackers!

11: Years since the Rockets last won a playoff series. Soon, “20 out of 20” will be way less important than “4 out of 7.”

12: Jersey number of point guard Rafer Alston, who feuded with coach Sam Mitchell during his previous stop in Toronto. Rafer’s not the only Rocket to have issues with a guy named Mitchell.

13: Consecutive victories Houston still needs to match the all-time record set by the 1971-72 Lakers. That team was in such a groove, Wilt probably even got laid once or twice.

14: Points scored in the Super Bowl by the New England Patriots, who unlike the Rockets have lost since the end of January.

15: Years since owner Leslie Alexander bought the team in July 1993. That fall, Michael Jordan retired, and Alexander’s Rockets won their first 15 games. At the time, he spent several hours a day screaming, “Owning a team is AWESOME!!!” to anyone within earshot.

16: Games below .500 for the Charlotte Bobcats, Houston’s next opponent. Expect Shane Battier to play well. Trust me, he has a strong track record against North Carolina teams.

17: NBA seasons played by the greatest Rocket of them all, Hakeem Olajuwon. Assuming you forget about that final season with the Raptors. Most of us do.

18: Losses by the Miami Heat since Houston’s last defeat. Plus, Dwyane Wade is out for the season. Clearly Barkley’s Five is cursed.

19: Losses on the season for the West-leading Lakers, who play in Houston on Sunday. Then the Rockets host Boston before traveling to New Orleans, Golden State, and Phoenix – all by next Saturday. This is all during Holy Week, and to keep the streak going, the Rockets may need to bench Luis Scola and replace him with Jesus.

20: Also known as a score. So the last score of final scores have gone the Rockets’ way.