When he got over the shock, Aaron Brooks felt a strange mix of excitement and nervousness. He liked the feeling.
Rafer Alston had been traded, and the Rockets had moved much of their fate to Brooks’ hands, because that was where they wanted it.
Then less than 24 hours after Brooks had begun tossing and turning through the night, it all made sense.
With the Dallas Mavericks within three and Friday’s game reduced to its final half- minute, Brooks found a new rush of emotion and adrenaline, drilling a 3-pointer that sent the Rockets to a 93-86 win over the Mavericks and himself into a joyous, shouting dance back up the court.
“When I got the news that he (Alston) had been traded, I thought it was a joke,” said Brooks, who moved to 7-1 as a starter this season.
“It’s been going through my mind ever since (Alston) got traded.
“Right when I found out, it was kind of like a dream. I woke up and was like, ‘Did he really get traded?’ You come to the gym and you don’t see him here and it’s kind of unreal. But once you step out there, you got to go out there and play.”
Teammates not surprised
But the Rockets were not surprised at all. They closed out the win when J.J. Barea, who had a career-high 26 points, missed a 3 with 16.9 seconds left and Ron Artest hit a free throw for the seven-point lead. But Brooks’ last shot, giving him 19 points to go with eight assists and six rebounds, was the game-winner and by design.
“He’s always had that confidence,” Shane Battier said. “The games he’s played down the stretch, he’s hit some pretty big shots for us. The kid’s got (guts).”
The Rockets had missed four shots on their previous possession and knew they likely needed just one more basket to close out the win.
Rockets coach Rick Adelman had said before the game he was confident in Brooks finishing games and proved it in the last minute, calling for Luis Scola to set a high screen for the second-year point guard.
“We wanted Luis to...