Rockets win a heart-pumping affair with the Knicks as the game comes down to the last play.
I need to start working out more so that my heart better handles end game moments like that one. Matchups between the Knicks and Rockets have been strange affairs indeed. Andrea Bargnani plays like a first round pick, albeit still not a number one overall pick, and…well I guess that’s really the weirdest part. But Bargnani playing close to his potential is pretty damn weird.
You won’t see Barg’s impact on the stat sheet, but his size gave us legitimate problems. That matched with the always-capable Carmelo Anthony, and Iman Shoot-part’s (yeah I know, but at least I tried ok!) crazy stupid shooting streak, gave the Rockets all they could handle tonight.
TO THE RECAP!
The Rockets started off very fast. You could tell that they had an initiative to push a fast pace, and Jeremy Lin was leading the charge. Jeremy scored his 14 points all in the first half. A note of interest from the start of the game is that the Rockets didn’t post Dwight Howard up until midway through the first. Usually Dwight is the first option at the beginning of games, so I wonder if that was done because of the matchup with Tyson Chandler or if this might be the new strategy across the board
Along with pushing the ball, we saw a more concerted effort to force the pick and roll down the Knicks’ throats.
But despite all that, the Rockets were still losing 24-20 at the end of the first thanks to five turnovers, that continually grinded our pace to a halt.
Another note from the first, Greg Smith got in with about two minutes left and played serviceable defense. The overall performance of Greg was solid enough, really just the fact that it was his body playing center instead of Omri Casspi or Terrence Jones was enough to satisfy me. HE ALSO DIDN’T GET A SINGLE FOUL. I keep looking at the box score just to make sure I do in fact know what a 0 looks like, but so far all signs point to yes.
The second quarter was a tale of pace. The Rockets would find their stride for very small periods of time and then turnovers would derail it. This game had a lot of ups and downs.
However Rockets capitalized on the Knicks bad overall shooting (37%) and took a lead into the half, 48-47.
The third quarter opened with plays designed to get Harden a few open shots. Some really nice play designs from Mchale, that genuinely surprised the Knicks got Harden into a groove. Overall the third was the worst for the Rockets but Harden hit his stride in a big way.
Harden scored 16 of the Rockets 25 third quarter points and looked a lot more confident at the 3pt line.
Melo was Melo for the entire game. He hit tough shots, bullied Chandler Parsons (although he did an admirable job), and just generally played like a super star. A team can survive Melo going off but when Iman Shumpert adds 26 pts while shooting 6-6 from three, the opposing team is going to struggle.
Rockets went into the fourth quarter trailing 81-73.
In the fourth, Harden continued to play like an offensive man possessed. With some timely shooting from Garcia and Brooks, the Rockets pulled it back to even 83-83 with 8:44 left in the quarter.
Mchale stuck with the lineup that got him there so Brooks played all the late minutes with Jeremy Lin sitting on the bench. Beno Udrih had been torching Lin, and while Brooks didn’t fair much better, things were going well.
The defining possession came with 2 minutes left when Harden ended up on an island with Melo in the post. The score was 98-95, and Harden had just drilled a three pointer to take the lead. As Melo made his move Harden managed to poke the ball away and gather up the steal. Melo set up on Harden on the other end hoping to return the favor and you could tell he was fired up. Harden seemed to recognize this and he ISO-ed up on Melo at the three-point line. After some nifty dribbling Harden crosses and nails a step back jumper directly in Melo’s face. It was gorgeous. That wasn’t the end of the game, but for those who didn’t see the game, I wanted you to know this wonderful sequence of events.
The Knicks pull it back to even with Shumperts 6th three and two clutch free throws from Tyson Chandler
Knicks ball, they get a shot for Beno Udrih and he clangs it with 24 seconds left on the clock. But Tyson gets the rebound and throws it back out, well now it looks like the Knicks will get the final shot. Oh, wait, what’s this? It sure looks like JR Smith is setting up for a shot with 19 seconds still on the clock. Good lord he is. CLANG. AARON BROOKS REBOUND! THEY FOUL HIM TO SEND HIM TO THE LINE WITH 17 SECONDS LEFT!
Brooks hits his free throws. The Knicks last possession was set up for Melo but Udrih ended up having to take a last second floater and he missed it, so the Rockets win 102-100.
Post Entry Passes
What the hell is up with no one being able to get Dwight the ball in the post with any kind of consistency?! Literally the only person who can figure it out is Aaron Brooks and I think that was part of the reason why he played all the late minutes. Mchale wanted Dwight to get some stretch touches and Brooks was the only one who was getting it to him. Harden threw an entry pass directly at Howard’s chest, which was naturally batted away and made into a transition opportunity for Knicks. Easy stuff like this has got to be fixed.
The statistical knitty gritty is here.
The Rockets do it again on Wednesday against the Lakers at 7PM CST.