Rockets lose another “measuring stick” game, as the Clippers emerge victorious tonight in LA.
The Rockets and Clippers represent the third and fourth seed in the Western Conference, and this game had the aura of a heavy weight matchup. The teams didn’t play particularly well but from start to finish it felt like there was a lot of talent struggling and battling for supremacy.
The Rockets had an immense amount of turnovers (leading to an immense amount of LA points), their go-to shooters couldn’t put the ball in the basket in an efficient manner, and in general they just struggled for 5 minute stretches throughout the game, but they never did quit. Each time the Clippers pushed a few points ahead, the Rockets worked hard to get themselves the shots they knew would get them back in the game. I would argue that the Rockets’ shot selection was better than the Clippers, but on any one night, sometimes that doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.
Am I crazy to still feel like Houston is the better team at this point in the season? Earlier in the year when the Clippers steam rolled us twice in a row, I think someone could rightfully accuse me of insanity if I had said that but right now, I would still look forward to a seven game series with the Clippers. Maybe I’m just high on the fumes from the spectacular play we have been seeing from the Rockets since January, but it’s really not that farfetched to imagine Houston in the finals. Which will make a surprise first round exit feel like an ice pick under my toe nail, so really I’ll just shut my mouth about it.
For tonights game I’m going to rip-off a format that Zach Lowe at Grantland coined and call this “10 Things I did and didn’t like about tonight’s game.”
TO THE…RECAP-ISH THING!
10 Things I Did And Didn’t Like About Tonight’s Game
Jordan Hamilton Hitting Open Threes
Well Mr. Hamilton had himself a nice game. He played 24 minutes, scored 16 points and shot 4-8 from behind the arc. Rejoice Rockets fans, Daryl Morey does it again! Except not really. Twitter seems to be ecstatic about the addition of Hams but very little about tonight’s game would tell me he is ready to contribute 24 minutes on a nightly basis. He had a nice shooting night, and the effort was certainly there but for the most part he hit open threes that were gifted to him. Don’t get me wrong, I love players that hit open threes and I think its something the Rockets are running dangerously low on but to act like Hams should play in place of Parsons even on a night like this, is still silly.
Once again though, nice shooting Hams, now we need at least 24 nights just like it.
Asik Making an Impact
Kevin McHale made some interesting choices on his lineups. Early in the first he brought D-Mo and Hams in to play for Terrence Jones and Parsons. He went back to the offensively challenged “Twin Towers” lineup that was experimented with earlier this year. I don’t know tonight’s +/- on the Twin Towers but overall it seemed average at best. However the really nice thing is that while Omer Asik is out there in place of Dwight, he looks like his 2012-2013 self and is playing like the bench squad hero that he is. Still missing those easy layups, but nobody is perfect.
The Lizard Tongue
Not sure if I should be disgusted or aroused.
I talk about Confident Lin vs. Jeremy Lin a lot, but I’m going to touch on it at least one more time. It is remarkable that such a talented player can lay down a pile of hot garbage as foul smelling as what Jeremy Lin dropped on the court. Jeremy Lin is a great 6th man, but mostly for the other team. His minutes off the bench are filled with faux aggressiveness, constant Harden scanning, and jump passes. He dribbles a few seconds, takes his first step hard, actually will get his man off balance then throw a lazy lob to Harden standing just inside the half court line, and the offensive “set” has to start over but now with less time. The dude needs to push himself to make mistakes at a hundred miles an hour. He cruises at a comfortable 60MPH but still manages to look foolish so why the hell not Jeremy? Throw caution to the wind! If your going to play like garbage, do it on your terms.
I miss Confident Lin. He usually appears when Harden is out for whatever reason so I propose a fake Harden injury a week before the playoffs that everyone is in on other than Lin. If he can’t summon Confident Lin on his own then it’s up to the city of Houston. Because if he shows up for the playoffs, the NBA is in trouble.
ESPN ran a fun fact bit at the beginning of todays game that gave the origin of the common day use of “Alley-Oop”. I thought it was pretty cool. Click and go on down to “origin of the term”, if you’re interested.
Wow. Just wow. I imagine he felt more useless than the male nipple. He literally looked lost on the court tonight. He got pulled early and still played complacently even after being put back in multiple times. I’ll chalk it up to a rough night, but he was a major liability. It seemed like the entire Red Nation was begging McHale to but D-Mo in so that our eyes would stop bleeding.
D-Mo Pick and Roll Defense
D-Mo played very well tonight. Not a huge stat sheet night but he was active and creative with his possessions. Something he did very well most of the night and especially in the fourth quarter was help slow down the Chris Paul pick and roll. D-Mo forced CP3 to take the long way around the pick every time, and he was doing it out at the three point line. He recovered to his man nicely once he gave Beverley a chance to catch up to Paul. D-Mo looked as sharp as TJ looked dull.
I really like this camera angle. It gets featured quite a bit more on national broadcasts, so tonight we got to see up close versions of Blake Griffin‘s goofy facial gestures as he occasionally embarrasses the Rockets interior defense.
Blake Griffin’s Post Moves
Boy did he ever look smooth sometimes. He still releases his jump shot on the way down so it’s still not going in but the well rehearsed post moves are something I haven’t seen from him. He works the fake to the middle and turn baseline for a backboard hook, but whats especially dangerous is that he can do it from either side. He is kind of herky jerky but for the most part that seems to work to his advantage. He is still a bit of a punk but he is a punk who clearly wants to develop his game.
I was praying for Jeff Van Gundy, but no such luck. It seems like the only prep work JB does is being present at the previous game he called for your team 2 months earlier. His analysis always sounds antiquated.
I went with this format because although the game was entertaining, it wasn’t that entertaining. Most people had access to it and describing the play by play would probably be redundant. The Rockets had to get just a little bit better shooting and just a little bit better ball security, and they could have had a shot at this one. But they didn’t so it’s on to the next one.
The statistical nitty gritty is here.
The Rockets do it again on Saturday at 7PM CST against the Detroit Pistons.
Tags: Houston Rockets