Talk about a reversal of fortune.
In October, Franklin alum Garrison Mathews found himself on the outs with the Boston Celtics, wondering where his NBA career might take him next.
In December, he's welcoming "MVP" chants from the Houston Rockets fans and getting comparisons to NBA legend Larry Bird from the analysts after helping the team string together a seven-game win streak.
Mathews is blowing the roof off of his two-way contract with Houston, averaging roughly 16 points a game in the last seven for the team and is averaging about 33 minutes a game in a starting role.
The former Admiral has been one of the focal points of both the Rockets' offensive and defensive game plans in this sizzling stretch, one that should earn him a formal contract with the team sooner than later.
"Garry Bird," as one broadcast analyst excitedly called him, went toe-to-toe with one of the league's best players, Brooklyn Nets star and former Rocket James Harden, in Wednesday's win.
“It felt good,” said Mathews said of hearing "MVP" chants called in his favor. “It’s great feeling winning seven in a row, especially against a team like that. Playing against James Harden, one of the most iconic players, so it's a great win for us as a team."
"The double teams we were doing, it seemed to work and it helped me out a lot when I was guarding him," Mathews said. "He's one of the greats and he's a tough task, man, but I'm just thankful that I had guys behind me able to help me out and that's huge just having the confidence, knowing your teammates are on the help side. If you have trust like that, you feel like you can guard anybody."
The Rockets are the first team in NBA history to win seven games in a row after losing 15 consecutively. With veterans Christian Wood and Eric Gordon also playing well, Houston's now 8-16 and a far cry from looking like one of the NBA's worst teams.
Less than a month from being called up from the G-League, Mathews has likely etched a permanent place in Houston's lineup for the 2021-22 season.
"It’s a great feeling, especially knowing where I came from," Mathews said of his rise. "Being able to pull out a close game like that. Early in the year when we got it cut down to four we probably would have lost that game.”
If you're wondering what's helped drive the pride of Lipscomb and Franklin in his hot streak, look to his roots.
“My family. Where I’ve came from," he shared after Wednesday's win as to what pushes him. "It’s been a tough road to get here. I’m just thankful to get this opportunity.”
Mathews and the Rockets play the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks in Houston Friday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.