Rockets beat the Jordan-less Bulls again so no one is impressed.
It was another fun game to watch tonight. The Rockets really just out talented the Bulls with each of the big three having big games. James Harden had 19 points and 6 assists, Dwight Howard had 23 points and 9 boards, and Chandler Parsons had 19 points with 9 boards as well.
The Rockets were in control of this game from pretty much start to finish. They started the game off by feeding the Bulls a healthy diet of Harden-Howard pick and roll and it was working beautifully. H2 would take turns finishing at the rim while the Bulls kept getting open mid range jump shots and they also kept missing them.
The Bulls physicality did seem to catch the Rockets off guard at first; especially Terrence Jones. Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah routinely threw him around and he wasn’t able to showcase his athleticism until the second half. Joakim Noah is a maniac, but damnit I respect him to much to dislike him. He is loyal, he plays his tail off, almost never flops, and he loves defense.
The Rockets pushed the ball in transition and Harden especially seemed mobile in the paint. Houston knew the Harden pick and roll was working for them so they continued to run it until the Bulls could stop it. Which is to say, they ran it all night. Meanwhile the Bulls predicated their offense upon pick and pops for their “shooters” and since they weren’t feeling it tonight, the Bulls struggled.
By the end of the first half the Rockets had four players (Beverley, Parsons, Howard, Harden) in double figures while commanding a 57-46 lead. Also Beverley hit a cool 3-pt shot at the buzzer that wrapped up one of his better overall halves as a Rocket.
The Rockets starters came out in the 3rd and dominated the Bulls again. The Bulls pulled within three at one point with 5 minutes left but Casspi extinguished any fire that could have been lit with an especially splashy 3 pointer and that was the last we heard from the Bulls.
The bench played most of the fourth with Parsons, and we got to watch Greg Smith foul some people. Rockets cruised to a 109-94 win and our stars got to enjoy the bench a few more minutes than usual.
The Offense Without a Star
For a brief stretch Kevin Mchale didn’t have Parsons, Harden or Howard on the court and the offense grinded to a halt. In fact to call it an offense is a misnomer because it was iso-ball for a bunch of older less talented players. We miss Jeremy Lin during these stretches. His ability to create is what that group is missing. I’ve seen worse Rocket lineups produce much better but it appears more and more that Mchale’s offense isn’t designed to be run without a star; which is scary on it’s own. Mchale knows he has to run his stars raged in order to win and he is finding ways to keep one of them on the court at all times.
Our starting lineup is really damn good. They dismantled a tough defense tonight while also forcing the Bulls into exactly the type of shots we want them to take. The Bulls would like to play inside out but they had to settle for dozens of midrange jump shots because Noah, Gibson, and Boozer couldn’t get any space to breathe.
Dwight Howard’s Lurking
I love watching Dwight while an opposing player is backing down Terrence Jones. He acts completely oblivious to the situation unfolding then right as the offensive player initiates his post move, Dwight comes flying in for the challenge or the block. That’s smart basketball and I love seeing when Dwight can prove his IQ on the court.
The statistical knitty gritty is here.
The Rockets have a big game against the Indiana Pacers on Friday at 7 PM CST.