TUCSON, Ariz. -- Sports' biggest current story, the 22-game win streak of basketball's Houston Rockets, snuck up on Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe. "I don't watch SportsCenter, so I didn't hear about it until yesterday," Hawpe said Monday morning. "But that's something those players are never going to forget." Hawpe and others who played for the Rockies in 2007 know a little something about unforgettable runs. Those Rockies seemed headed to also-ran status, but won 14 of their final 15 regular-season games -- including a one-game showdown with the Padres for the National League Wild Card -- and their first seven postseason games. It was the first time in history that a 21-of-22 streak extended into the playoffs.
The Rockets' streak is impressive in its own right. It's the second-longest in NBA history to the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers' 33-game run. It has moved the Rockets from No. 8 in their conference to the No. 1 spot. The Rockies and Rockets might be in different sports, but they're part of a fraternity of hot teams. Rockies players see similarities and differences between their hot run and that of the Rockets. "Obviously, their run is incredible, and if they finish and win the division it will break records," said Cory Sullivan, a reserve outfielder last year. "But our back was against the wall. I'm not taking away or detracting from anything they've done, but it felt like ours was under a little bit of pressure. "You can tell they're relaxed, like we were, and expecting to win." A key parallel between the clubs is both have accomplished their hot streaks at less than full strength. The Rockets are without center Yao Ming, out for the season because of surgery for a stress fracture in his left foot. The Rockies lost three of their five starting pitchers -- Aaron Cook, Rodrigo Lopez and Jason Hirsh -- to injuries before the dash to the playoffs began. "Yao Ming is one of their better players and we had some guys step up -- [pitchers] Franklin Morales and Ubaldo Jimenez," third baseman Garrett Atkins said. "There are definitely some parallels." With everything going right during the games, it seems the hardest task for the Rockets is putting their success into words. Rockies relief pitcher Brian Fuentes can identify.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.