Just as the score didn’t tell the full story in the Dallas game, nor does it in the Rockets’ game vs. the LA Clippers last night. The game was like a horrific roller coaster for Rockets fans: looking like a blowout early to looking like the Rockets might make it a game… and then back to a complete blowout.
For as strong as the Rockets have looked on defense, that element of their game completely disappeared against the Clippers. The Rockets allowed the Clippers to have their highest scoring game in four years. Dwight Howard finished with only 13 pts. and 9 rebounds in his first return to Los Angeles. Any other player and this would be an acceptable performance, but not by Howard’s standards. Howard was, of course, booed by the masses:
“They can boo me a million times. I’ll still play… I [have] allowed what people said to affect how I played. But I can’t do that. I mean, I’m better than that.”
The Rockets’ defensive woes were most likely attributed to Howard getting into foul trouble early. The few minutes that Howard and Omer Asik did get to play together was uninspiring. They weren’t their usual glass-cleaning selves with Asik walking away with only 6 pts. and 7 rebounds.
Couple the Rockets’ lack of defensive production with the ability of the Clippers to be very explosive on offense and the Rockets were in trouble early. Not to mention our offense was completely flat. Chandler Parsons put up mediocre numbers with 14 pts. and 4 assists. Even James Harden was a non-factor scoring only 15 pts. with 2 assists. The one bright spot in the Rockets’ offense came not from our starters but from our bench. Specifically, The Great Casspi (Omri Casspi). In 28 minutes of play, Casspi scored 19 pts., 4 assists, 9 rebounds. Watch out for this kid. He will be one of the reasons we do well throughout the season, mark my words. Francisco Garcia also played well off the bench in his 21 minutes of play scoring 14 pts.
The Clippers played lights out offensively. I know it’s early, but they were scary. Really. All their starters played great. CP3 (Chris Paul) was fantastic scoring 23 pts. with an unbelievable 17 assists. Blake Griffin wasn’t too shabby either with 18 pts., 2 assists and 7 rebounds.
All in all, the Rockets just played poorly. I know that’s a cop-out generalization, but it’s about as well as anyone can describe what happened last night. Defensively they were bad. Offensively they were bad. Coincidentally enough, about they only thing they did well was keep turnovers down (Team TOs: 15), something they’ve struggled with in their first 4 match ups. There are still plenty of games left in the season, but they’re going to have to make statements against teams like the Clippers because these are the teams that they’ll be seeing in the post-season. They need to know what it feels like to win against teams like this in preparation for the later part of the regular season and moving into the post-season. I have confidence they will learn from this and improve upon their play the next time they meet with another Western Conference contender.
You can find the full box-score for last night’s game here.