Welcome to the Greatest Moment series at Last Word On Pro Basketball, where we’ll present to you each NBA team’s greatest moment of the 21st century. From draft lottery luck, to a franchise-changing trade, to the sweet taste of a championship, every NBA team has had its own special moment to look back on.
In this edition, we will relive the greatest Houston Rockets moment of the 21st century: Their 22-game winning streak in the 2007-08 season.
Greatest Houston Rockets Moment of the 21st Century: 22-Game Winning Streak in 2007-08
During the 2007-08 season, the Rockets were hanging around the .500 mark for the majority of the season. They were led by Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, who had been All-Stars multiple times in their respective careers. Outside of those two, the team did not have much. It was two star players with role players around them. But then, one of the greatest accomplishments in NBA history took place.
The Rockets were sitting at 24-20 before history took place. They would go on to win 12 games in a row with the majority of them being blowouts. The streak started on January 29, 2008 against the Golden State Warriors. After 12 straight wins, though, the Rockets would receive devastating news.
Yao Ming Goes Down
On February 26, 2008, the Rockets announced Yao would miss the remainder of the season with a fracture in his left foot. He was a big part of their success, averaging 22 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. With that injury, many felt the hot streak for the Rockets would soon come to an end. It ended up only igniting the team and seeing a boost in production from the role players.
Role Players Step up Their Games
With McGrady being the other star player, he stepped up to fill the void of Yao’s absence. He would average 24.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game after Yao’s injury. McGrady would lead the Rockets in scoring for 13 of the 22 wins. Rafer Alston and Shane Battier would also step up their games, averaging a combined 26.1 points per game. Battier would be part of this win streak for the Rockets and the 27-game win streak in 2013 with the Miami Heat.
The End of the Streak and Playoffs
The win streak for the Rockets would go on for 22 games, the fourth longest streak in NBA history. It would end March 18, 2008, against the Boston Celtics. Some of their wins would come against the best teams in the league at the time, including the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers and Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers. Looking back, it was one of the most exciting events to take place in NBA history.
The Rockets would finish the season 55-27 with the fifth seed in the Western Conference. With Yao still being out, the team would feel his absence in their first round playoff series against the Utah Jazz, losing in six games. Although their playoff run ended earlier than they hoped, the win streak during the regular season was still celebrated.
Looking Back on History
What makes this streak special is the fact it came out of nowhere. The Rockets were not loaded with talent and even lost one of their star players in the middle of it all. It was one star surrounded by role players who played hard every night and stepped up their game. To have the fourth longest winning streak in NBA history with that roster is a heck of an accomplishment.