The Rockets, more than ever, know who they are. In their case, that usually has meant knowing what they are not.
They have embraced that and have learned to use it, building a determination that has driven their second-half charge.
"We don't have a superstar, but we're in every game," Chuck Hayes said. "We're competitive. We push teams to the limit. We're not star-studded. We're not going to bring fans on the road. Our play is going to be impressive.
"Everybody is taller than us. Everybody is bigger than us. Our willpower and our commitment is what are going to get us over the top and win these battles."
For the Rockets, that has meant rallying around Hayes, the shortest starting center in league history, and Kyle Lowry, a bulldog of a point guard that had never been a starter before this season, but has been regularly outplaying point guards of far greater renown.
"He makes very good plays and what I really like about Kyle is he knows the strengths of the guys he's playing with," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. "Kyle has been the guy that we've leaned on. He's been the play maker. He had a triple-double tonight. He's just been terrific. You can't say enough about him."
It can be said, however, that he has typified the Rockets' 11-3 surge since the All-Star break, with the Rockets winning with the determination they do have, despite whatever they lack.
"We don't have that typical stud, star horse," center Brad Miller said. "But we have guys that want to win and play hard to do that. Chuck takes pride to defend every guy he goes against. Kyle takes a lot of pride in what he does. People don't look at them as flashy, but I'll take a grind-it-out, gritty, kick-you-and-go-after-you guy."
ROCKETS 110, JAZZ 108: There had been a time when the Rockets lost games like this. Not anymore. They let a double-digit lead slip away, but rallied. They gave up a rush of 3-pointers in the final minute, but never cracked. Instead, they made 10 consecutive free throws in the final 50 seconds, never allowing the Jazz a shot to tie the game. With the win, they moved past Utah and to ninth in the Western Conference, three games over .500 for the first time this season.
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