Let us all bathe in the sweet nectar of revenge in celebration of tonight’s Rockets win over the Kings. Lets get sticky.
Now granted it was a liiiiittle unfair. When Demarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay only play a combined 16 minutes of the game, you know there is treachery afoot, and unfortunately for Kings nation it was all bad news. The recently acquired and recently efficient Gay left early with an achilles injury while Boogie Cousins left with a severely rolled ankle.
If you didn’t see the Cousins injury, it happened as Patrick Beverley was trying to block Cousins’ dunk in transition. As far as I can tell the ankle rolled over as a defense mechanism, in order to avoid the intimidating stare of Sir Patrick Beverley.
You have your story; I have mine.
TO THE RECAP!
In a not at all shocking twist the Rockets started out their offense by getting Dwight Howard some post touches. The Kings decided they had a post matchup they would like to exploit as well; Rudy Gay vs. James Harden. They posted up Gay a few times in a row and the Rockets let Harden see if he could handle it. In an actually shocking twist, Harden stepped up to the challenge. He held his ground and challenged shots nicely. The cynic in me wants to say that Harden likes post defense just because it means he doesn’t have to move very much. But I’m willing to role with the narrative that he “cares about defense”.
A few things jumped out at me in the first quarter that continued to manifest themselves throughout the game.
First, Dwight Howard was every where. His weak side defense was extremely sharp, and he was very active for the whole night. He had four blocks, but we know the impact of the Dwight effect, and it went way beyond just those four shots.
Second, the Harden pick and roll was sanskrit to the Kings defense. They acted like they hadn’t seen it before and certainly couldn’t read it. The post defender didn’t slow Harden down at all coming off the pick and once Harden had a step, the fight was over. He made the right decision almost every time. He euro-stepped the Kings out of position and then chose between swinging it to an open shooter on the wing, a lob to Dwight, or a nifty lay up for the easy score.
Third, the refs were going to let them play tonight. It was a fun game to watch because of this. Yeah sure, they blew some calls that should have gone for the Rockets but the overall experience of the game was better. There were less touch fouls and big boys were deciding things for themselves.
Rockets overcame a slow start to the first and ended up leading 29-22 at the end of it.
The only problem with the first half and really the game is that the Rockets once again couldn’t get the threes to fall. The Kings hung around for a while despite losing both of their stars because Houston kept coming up empty from behind the arc. They were 2-13 in the first half and finished the game 8-31.
Overall though, once Boogie and Gay left the game, a Rockets win never seemed to be in doubt. The talent on the floor was just too much for the Kings to counter.
The Rockets killed the Kings in transition. Especially in the second half when it seemed that the Kings were just feeling kind of broken. The Rockets won every quarter tonight and they led 55-44 at the half.
The third quarter was filled with Hack-a-Howard, lots of Derrick Williams garbage time, and Isaiah Thomas (which I assume could only be named for former Knicks GM Isaiah Thomas. Parents must have wanted him to grow up to be a GM. Weird.) Rockets lead 88-73 going into the fourth.
The fourth was made up mostly of garbage time and the Rockets wrap up an easy win over an opponent that had beaten them twice previously this year.
Patrick Beverley aka The Enforcer
For the second straight night Beverley posted the sickest +/- of the game at +31. He had 6 points and 8 assists on 2-9 shooting, AND HE WAS +31! Now +/- can be deceiving in small sample sizes, but it was pretty easy to tell that there was a difference when Pat was on the floor. His +/- for the Portland game was +26, and that felt right too. Never allow me to question Beverley’s meaning for this team, I don’t know why I would, but I bestow this duty upon you.
On another interesting note Robert Covington got to play 10 min tonight and scored his first NBA points. Covington had been tearing it up in the D-League and was brought up in response to Franciso Garica being out tonight. He looked out matched in every way, which is exactly what you expect. Hopefully he has a bright future in Houston, he certainly has the prototypical NBA wing/forward body type.
He is still terrible at post inlet passes. Sometimes he doesn’t even look for Howard. But now I’m nitpicking, so you do you Chandler.
The statistical nitty gritty is here.
The Rockets do it again on Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies at 7PM CST.