From the depths of the Rockets bench, Donatas Motiejunas rises to the occasion and saves the day. Yeah that actually happened.
My expectations going into this game were pretty high despite the trap game element to it all. Yeah the Rockets had come off of big wins before, and then proceeded to take a dump on the court the next day, but damnit this just felt right to me. The Grizzlies are so depleted of talent that I couldn’t imagine them putting together long enough stretches of offense that could really hurt the Rockets. But as so often happens in the NBA, the game I was expecting was not the game that we got.
Things started off very well for the Rockets. Memphis wasn’t hitting enough shots to slow the game down to their pace and the Rockets continually ran the ball down the Grizzlies’ throat. Memphis tried to establish their post game with Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos taking 11 shots (5-11) in the first quarter but after any of the post misses, Terrence Jones would sprint the floor for easy fast break points. Jones continued his strong play from the Spurs game and finished the first with 10 points on 5-5 shooting.
Towards the end of the first Dwight Howard picked up his second foul and allowed for the Rockets’ greatest weakness to rear its ugly head; rebounding. With Howard out, Z-Bo and the gang pretty much set up camp under the boards. When a Grizzly missed a shot, one of his teams would calmly gather the rebound and flip it back in.
It appeared that the Rockets were more interested in boxing-in than boxing-out. If that was the game plan then bravo fellas, you nailed it.
I am continually depressed by what this team could be like with Omer Asik. He fills so many holes for this team. [Sobs uncontrollably] Ok brave face Mac.
The second quarter brought more heartburn as the vastly under talented Grizzlies proceeded to drop 30 points on the Rockets, led by James Johnson. For those of you who don’t know, which should be mostly everybody, Johnson is a former Rio Grand Valley Viper but that didn’t stop him from making James Harden look stupid.
Memphis leads 53-45 at half.
The biggest event of the third quarter was Dwight Howard picking up his fourth foul…and then 18 seconds later his FIFTH. So who is going to come in to play center with Asik and Smith out with injuries? [Scans bench] Nope I guess we’ll just have to play with four. WAIT! Who be this noble warrior that rides in from the north? Why it’s Donatas Motabcalionflskdhfsdj, uh D-Mo. Get in there kid and show the world what Lithuanian basketball is all about. [Z-Bo and-1 finish] OH GOD WHAT WERE WE THINKING.
That turned out to be D-Mo’s worst moment of the game and he went on to play quite well. He came in with eight minutes left in the third and never saw the bench again.
By the end of the third the Rockets were only losing by six, which seemed miraculous with all the things that had been going wrong. Houston had switched to a zone in desperation and it wasn’t doing a damn thing.
The group that started the fourth quarter played the rest of the game: Lin, Harden, Parsons, Garcia, and D-Mo. Then four things changed the game for the Rockets.
- Houston started to effectively team rebound, while D-Mo remembered how to box-out.
- Jeremy Lin hit two HUGE three pointers to eat up the gap.
- The officials were extremely kind to James Harden.
- James Harden hit his free throws.
All four of those things had to happen for Houston to pull this one out and they did. Memphis lost the lead 81-80 with eight minutes left and the Rockets never looked back.
The statistical knitty gritty is here.
Rockets do it again on Saturday against the Pelicans at 7PM CST.
I’m not sure if this is a positive or a negative but it is something that I want to call to attention. When the Rockets struggle there is an enormous amount of bad body language. Bad body language I can mostly handle and understand with a young team but something I see a lot of is a finger pointing blame game. Harden, Howard, and Parsons in particular.
Now part of leadership is the ability to hold your teammates accountable, so to a certain extent I see this as beneficial. But to me it seems like there is a better way to communicate your point then to throw your hands up dramatically and yell, “What the hell bro?!” What drives me the most crazy is when Harden tries to pass off his own defensive sloth as someone else’s blown assignment.
It could be part of the culture that the Rockets have cultivated, and maybe that works for them. However I have gotten texts during the game from non-Rocket fans saying how Dwight really seems “fed up with his team.” I don’t think he is, in fact, I think he is having a lot of fun overall but that is not the message he is communicating to the outside world when he throws his hands up in a childish dramatic fashion. Most of the time I think he is right when he is upset, but how about communicating it better?
Well hopefully I’m fabricating all of this, and hopefully the Rockets are perfectly happy with the leadership on this team. But if their not, I would understand why.
What do y’all think? Have you seen this too, or am I making it up?
Topics: Houston Rockets