Usman Garuba focused on bringing energy, intensity to Rockets

Usman Garuba focused on bringing energy, intensity to Rockets

DALLAS — With just under four minutes left in the second quarter, the Houston Rockets looked as if they were stuck in the mud against the Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The offense had become very predictable, and the defense looked out of sync as the Mavericks led the Rockets, 51-42.

Just when it looked like Houston would go into the half trailing Dallas, one Rockets player took on the challenge of not letting his team slip back into the 2021-2 mindset of allowing opponents to increase their leads on Houston due to a lack of effort.

Second-year backup center Usman Garuba provided the spark the Rockets needed to jumpstart the offense by scoring eight consecutive points in a 15-0 run by Houston to end the half.

“I just played with energy and intensity,” Garuba told reporters. “I just tried to make the right plays on the offensive and defensive end also. That is how we play.”

Garuba finished the game with a career-high 12 points and added nine rebounds as the Rockets defeated the Mavericks, 101-92. He also tied his career high in assists (three) and added three blocked shots to Houston’s season-high total of 19 as a team.

When Garuba was informed that the team had come up one block short of tying the franchise mark of 20 that was set on the same date back in 1984, he had a very enthusiastic response.

“19 blocks, that’s crazy,” Garuba said in the visiting locker room. “That was effort. We want to win games. Of course, we haven’t won as much as we want, but we are playing hard and that is what we need.”

After having such a significant impact on the game, Garuba was greeted with “MVP” chants during his postgame workout by teammate Bruno Fernando. The 20-year-old flashed a massive smile as he continued his training.

Rockets head coach Stephen Silas acknowledged his team’s overall performance against the Mavericks and knew his team could play the type of basketball he watched to end the second quarter.

“It is the fighting through adversity that I keep talking about,” Silas said. “It is when we get down and fighting back. It is our young guys learning what it takes to put a game together. Going on a big run like that, helps you with your halftime speech.”

Houston is back in action on Friday at Toyota Center as they take on the visiting Indiana Pacers. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. Central.

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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire