Road warriors? Jalen Green, Fred VanVleet lead Houston’s sudden resurgence

Based on their performance in March, is it safe to call the Houston Rockets “road warriors?” That might be an exaggeration. But after Sunday’s win in Sacramento extended their road winning streak to three games, they are making at least a small case for it.

Those three victories, including two over likely playoff-bound teams in the form of the Kings and Phoenix Suns, have been impressive. Across the board, Houston has used excellent ball movement and staunch defensive efforts to silence those home crowds.

On the whole, the Rockets have been putrid on the road. Even after the last three wins, their road record remains just 8-24 this season, and this the first time that Houston has won more than two straight road games. This time, however, Ime Udoka’s squad has looked better as a collective unit while featuring a complete team effort.

Third-year shooting guard Jalen Green has improved in away games and has gotten used to playing in hostile environments. That became evident when he was booed every time he touched the ball at Footprint Arena, home of the Suns, after his altercation with Bradley Beal (which led to Beal’s ejection from the game).

Over his last five road games, Green has averaged 26.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 42.2% overall.

“He has stringed together a really good group of games,” Udoka said from Sacramento. “Not just offensively, but all around. He is making some great passes and some great reads out of the pick-and-roll.”

Green’s backcourt mate, Fred VanVleet, has also imposed his veteran leadership during the three-game road winning streak by controlling the offense. Houston has looked much cleaner on the offensive side of the ball, with VanVleet making sure that everyone is in the right spot and that the ball does not stagnate.

As a scorer, VanVleet has increased his output to 21.3 points per game in those three road wins. But his 10.0 assists average, while only committing 2.3 turnovers, has arguably been more impressive.

Although it may be a little too late for the Rockets (29-35) to make a run at a postseason play-in spot, they have played inspired basketball, winning four out of their last five while going 5-5 in 10 games since the All-Star break. This is a big improvement over their previous record of 3-7, which included a four-game losing streak.

“I think we have had really good stretches,” Udoka told reporters Sunday. “We have played really good basketball at times.”

Houston will end its current road trip against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday before returning home to Toyota Center to take on the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers.

With the status of star big man Alperen Sengun suddenly in serious doubt due to a leg injury, Udoka and the Rockets will likely need guards such as VanVleet and Green to do even more to help generate offense and keep the team’s recent momentum rolling.

Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire