And suddenly the Memphis game is a distant memory.
Just one day after looking like their offense was in a state of crisis, Ron Artest and Yao Ming lit the match on a scoring explosion as the Rockets knocked off the Mavericks 112-102 in Dallas.
With the victory, the Rockets jump out to an early 2-0 record in 2008-09.
Where to begin? The Rockets played terrific ball on the offensive end, hitting over 48% from the field and 50% from distance, but there were three guys in this one who rose above the rest: Artest, Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks.
Artest scored 29 points, scoring on drives to the hoop and on long-range bombs, where he hit 3-4. He took over down the stretch, scoring 10 points in the fourth, to bust open a tight game.
Artest was dialed in with his shot, and that won't always be the case (especially from long range), but from what I saw out there... put simply, Artest gives the Rockets the three T's they lacked in a star: toughness, tenacity and testicles.
He is going to make a big, big difference.
Yao may have been more impressive, and I'll never understand why any team would allow him to post-up one-on-one. If his jumper is on, you're simply toast. The Mavericks routinely do this, taking their chances with the defense of Erick Dampier or Desagana Diop.
Yao had a full arsenal going -- the mid-range turnaround, the spin in the lane, the putback ... he led all scorers and rebounders with 30 and 13, hitting 11-15 shots to boot.
Aaron Brooks made the fastest "out 1 to 3 weeks" injury return in history, coming off the bench to score 14 points and dish out 5 assists on 5-12 shooting. His speed made Jason Terry's "Jet" look more like a paper airplane.
My question now is, "Is Aaron Brooks 'The One'?" Not just the one we've been waiting for to pull us out of Rafer Alston Hell, but really the one to save us from generations of crapulence at the position. From Dirk Minnefield to Sedale Threatt to Rick Brunson to Matt Maloney to a 74-year old Mark Jackson, the Rockets Achilles Heel has always been point guard.
I'm not ready to say yes just yet. Given Brooks' lackluster rookie season, his small size and his scoring mentality, I've been squarely in the camp that his upside is as a good backup point at best, but he's scoring, making good passes and utilizing his end-to-end speed.
Out of training camp, Brooks was actually behind Luther Head on the point guard depth chart, but as one insider told me -- one day in practice Brooks just "got it". That's been reflected in his play in the final games of the preseason and now here against the Mavs. Too early to draw any conclusions, but I'm in love with what I'm seeing in Brooks.