Houston Rockets Prep tops Toronto Raptor Academy in a thrilling-ish double overtime game.
As Bart Enis, a local Houston sports anchor, signed out of his post game interview with Jeremy Lin he jokingly asked Lin the question, “No such thing as a bad win right Jeremy?” Too which the always polite point guard responded “Yes sir!” But if there wasn’t such a thing, tonight might go towards disproving that theory.
Just a heads up, for the most part I am going to discuss what I saw on the court instead of listing most of the stats. I’ll use them to back up a point but that will usually be the extent of it. Especially with most of Houston being unable to watch the games, I think that might be helpful. So if you want to get into the statistical knitty gritty, check out the box score that is linked at the end of the article.
In the first quarter the Rockets were hell bent on establishing Howard down low. Possession after possession they threw it down to Dwight just outside the paint and he would switch back and forth between his two moves; the baseline bull rush, and his middle of the lane layup/hook/thing. It didn’t light the world on fire but he finished more often than not and the offense had some direction. At the end of the 1st he had 9 points (3-6), 6 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots while Rudy Gay showed signs of heating up by posting 8 points on 3-6 shooting. You have to think that every time Gay hits a tough shot, Raptor fans are like “OH GOD NO! He is going to think he has ‘it’ tonight.” Aside from one last minute heroic, Rudy had a night that makes you glad Daryl Morey never gave him a chance to suit up in Rocket Red. Shout out to my main man Shane Battier who will of course read this recap. Right? The silence is deafening.
Dwight rewarded the Rockets willingness to send the ball his way with some inspired defense and rebounding on the opposite end. It was really his quarter and it kind of seemed like it would be his game too, but alas such things would not be. The Rockets finished the quarter with a 24-20 lead.
The second quarter brought with it some rare occurrences; like unicorn or holofoil Charizard rare. TERRENCE JONES! Terrence Jones had a heck of a night in his first meaningful action of the season. He challenged shots well (four blocks), rebounded with tenacity and for the most part knew where his place on the floor was. I noticed a few times he would crash too soon on a guard’s drive and end up running into Dwight or Omer doing the same thing but overall his impact was welcomed. His versatility could be a fantastic weapon. He played with Omri Casspi for a bit as well and the two of them were able to switch seamlessly between their assignments.
Another fun sighting was Confident Jeremy Lin. He showed up in the second quarter and luckily stuck around for the whole game because we NEEDED him. This version of Jeremy steps directly into open shots, prods the defense on fast breaks, flies through the lane with reckless abandon and usually plays pretty damn well. Yeah he probably had way to many of his patented jump passes and turnovers, but when he is in that mode he can compete for 6th man of the year. He also pushed his way over screens, which led to very few open shots for Kyle Lowry and generally seemed to harass anyone who got the ball in the paint.
The Raptors are a very slow methodic offense, without an abundance of shooting and the Rockets punished them for it. Any time a Raptor either received or brought the ball into the paint, the floor underneath the basket would sag because ALL of the Rockets would collapse in to make that player miserable. The other thing that the Raptors do on offense is rebound and tonight was no exception. They got 18 second chance shots and damn near all of them seemed to come in crucial times of the game. Dwight eagerly awaited the opportunity to stuff any shots in the paint but each time he went for it, he would take himself out of posisiton for a rebound. That should be ok because hey, we have four other players to clean up the intimidated shot attempt, but the Rockets struggled all night to box anyone out. Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson wrecked havoc on the offensive boards almost all night.
Donatas Montiejunas gets compared to Valanciunas a lot and tonight’s game brought it out in full force. I read a lot of people wishing D-Mo were more like Val and saying that we swung and missed on him. However I don’t see why D-Mo couldn’t one day be a better version of Val. Val is ahead in his physical development but it seems that D-Mo’s offensive skills are more advanced and there is nothing on the record that would indicate his make-up is going to hold him back from becoming a player of that caliber.
Anyways we ended the half with a 47-33 lead and things seemed well within control.
In the 3rd the tide started to shift. The Rockets offense actually got them the shots they wanted, but they just refused to hit any of them. The 3-pt shooting was pretty bad outside of Lin and open 3s became a detriment to the offense to a certain extent. The Raptors capitalized on the Houston misses with some transition buckets including a couple 3s from Rudy Gay. Harden connected on a 4-point play at the end of the 3rd and that seemed like an offensive explosion. Chandler Parsons wore out his pump fake, and used it to get himself some shots at the rim that he actually finished with quite a bit of dexterity and finesse. Lin continued to play like he knew what he was doing, even if he sometimes didn’t. So despite everything we went into the 4th leading 71-62.
Dwight Howard disappeared from the offensive game plan after his dominant first half. Attempting only one shot while still contesting the majority of the shots at the rim. Some of that was due to Val and Amir Johnson fronting or bringing a guard down to create a double team, but there isn’t much of an excuse to only get him ONE shot in the second half. As the game got closer and closer we began relying more and more on Harden ISO ball and that grinded the Rockets to a halt. That coupled with poor shooting from 3pt and the free throw line (really any line you can think of) left the Rockets and Raptors tied at the end of regulation.
Overtime brought with it a lot of ISO ball between Harden and Gay. Each time that the Rockets would pull ahead and seem to put it away, the Raptors would get an offensive put back and claw there way back into it. Lin shined bright in over time and gave the Rockets a 3 point lead with an aggressive clutch lay-up. However with 6 seconds left the Raptors had a chance at one more possession.
So the black hole from which no efficient shooting can escape, Rudy Gay, gets the ball in an ISO at the top of the 3 point line. He dribbles a few times and pulls up in front of Parsons (who was close but not close enough to accidentally draw a foul) and buries it. Gay had shot 9-30 at the time and minutes before had blown a potentially game winning possession in the 4th by dribbling the air out of the ball and jacking up a long 2-pointer for a heavy brick. Double overtime.
Lin and Harden played masterfully in mostly ISO possessions and we built a lead from which the basketball gods and Rudy Gay could not smite the Rockets.
Rudy Gay finished 11-37.
Demar DeRozan 6-25.
The Raptors shot 38-114 for 33% shooting.
The Rockets turned in a 26-47 night from the charity stripe.
But Rockets win 110-104.
It wasn’t pretty or really even cute, but it was a win and the Rockets move to 5-3 on the year. The next contest is with the 76ers tomorrow the 13th at 6 PM Central Time.
Check out the box score here.