Recap: Houston Rockets 112 - Indiana Pacers 86

OOOOOH SOMEBODY STOP ME! The Rockets and Patrick Beverley‘s fancy new mask curb stomp the Pacers tonight in Houston on national television.

 

That third quarter though! I actually went to tonight’s game and I’ve never had more fun at a sporting event. Most of you probably got to watch the game since ESPN had it televised so you know the 1st half was fun, but that third quarter. Toyota Center was electric in the third. I’ll get to that in the recap but the point is, the Rockets are for real. That doesn’t mean they aren’t going to lay a few more eggs as they finish up the regular season but this team as constructed would be justified in having Finals aspirations.

The reason I was at tonight’s game is that it’s my mom’s birthday, and she was nice enough to bring the good juju with her. She has grown to love the Rockets since I started doing this “pretend I can blog” thing and she is my biggest and only fan. Plus if you watch this team, it is impossible not to love them. So happy birthday.

TO THE RECAP!

The Skinny

So I’ll try to add a little analysis to tonight’s game but it was tough to pay attention to the details when I had to keep recovering from the head rushes that resulted from jumping out of my seat repeatedly.

Right out of the gate the Rockets offense clearly had a different goal then usual. Normally we spend the first 4-6 minutes force feeding Dwight Howard the ball in the post, and the success of the offense sits solely on Dwight. If Dwight has it working then things are good. But if Dwight isn’t performing (e.i. this week’s Magic game) then good lord we look terrible.

Instead what they did tonight was immediately start working the pick and roll. Patrick Beverley, Chandler Parsons and James Harden all took opportunities turning the corner and getting into the paint. Beverley had his lane floater falling, and easy looks were aplenty as the Rockets got 16 of their 27 first quarter points in the paint.

I assume after watching Dwight struggle against the Magic, Mchale and Co. didn’t want take the same chance against Hibbert. Why can’t the Rockets just assume Howard will struggle against most guys that equal his stature and start every game with this strategy? Honestly it looks like Howard prefers it also. Later in the game Howard got some post touches and he looked sharp and decisive. Let the game come to him more.

This game had a lot of fun sequences in it but the first one was at the end of the first quarter. 23 seconds on the clock, Harden has the ball for the final shot. He is Iso-ing on Paul George just inside the half court line. with 6 seconds left he drives and the Pacer defense completely collapses on him. Then in a crazy twist, Harden M. Night Shyamalans THE ENTIRE ARENA and throws it out to a wide open D-Mo in the corner, and Donuts nails the three. It was awesome.

Watching the Pacer offense is interesting. It seems that they actually play for the open mid range shot. Now their bigs can all shoot and hit from mid range so I imagine that has something to do with it, but the outlet shot at the end of their sets were regularly from midrange. And the Rockets would be like, “Oh no please don’t. Please don’t take that high risk low reward shot. That would be ever so bad…” CLANK! Rockets rebound, and then run the ball right down Indiana’s throat.

The only Pacer that showed up for the game was David West. Blessed with his permanent Bitch Face, and sweet post game he turned the paint into a mosh pit and Terrence Jones was the willow reed swaying in the wi…yeah I’m about to get lost in my own maze of analogies so lets just say Jones wasn’t big enough to handle West.

The second quarter seemed pretty similar to most recent Rockets’ games. The bench was giving up the lead, then the starters would come back and try to undo all the damage that Jeremy Lin and company had caused.

Rockets go into the half leading 50-43.

Then after a bunch of dead eyed cheerleaders did the half time performance, one of my favorite quarters in Rockets history unfolded before my very alive eyes.

The Rockets score 38 points, 12 on the fast break and Harden had 16 on his own. But in the midst of running the Pacers off the court, Harden and the Rockets had one particular sequence that blew the damn top of Toyota Center.

The Rockets are up 68-50 as Parsons nails his second free throw. TC is already buzzing because of the run we were on, but in an effort to grab an easy basket the Pacers quickly take the ball in bounds and try to fling it to a guard that had released off the made free throw. However, Harden was all over it, and he deftly snags the pass with one hand and brings the ball back Houston’s way. After a couple seconds of swinging the ball around Harden nails a three. He goes nuts, I go nuts, we all go nuts. Timeout Pacers. Good call coach, you have to try anything to slow this momentum. 20 seconds later, Beverley harasses the ball out of Stephenson, and throws it ahead for the Harden tomahawk slam. TC loses it’s damn mind. Then to add even more liquid awesome to the awesome fire, Evan Turner and Harden get into a shoving match which ends with Beverley flying in, and David West trying to shove over our precious Parsons. The fans were frothing at the mouth and ready to go down there and beat David West’s ass. It was absolutely beautiful. Harden was insanely animated, and the players were asking the fans for more so we poured it on.

I could totally envision Beverley taking off his mask to head butt West in an explosion of bone fragments and  blood.

The game was over after that. The Rockets extended the lead and the fourth quarter was mostly garbage time. The last fun sequence came at the beginning of the fourth when Houston got to catch a glimpse of Confident Lin. He pulls a sick cross over, and falls away for the midrange swish. On the other end Asik erases a dunk attempt and Jordan Hamilton hits a three in transition. We were in a state of ecstasy as all the starters ran out on to the floor to congratulate the second unit. Like I said, you have to love this team.

Rockets cruise to a 112-86 win and hand the Pacers their worst loss of the season. Also Troy Daniels got to hit a three so that was cool.

Extra Thoughts

Harden vs. George

I think those two get especially amped to play against each other. Many pundits see them as being on the same level as far as stardom goes. George has a better defensive game (which really just means he HAS a defensive game) but most nights Harden has the edge on offense. Tonight Harden played hard on both ends of the court like we rarely see him do. And usually when George is marking him, he tends to struggle. That was obviously not the case tonight but it definitely feels like there is some subtext to that matchup.

“You’re in my seat.” “Nu huh! [checks ticket] Oh. You right.”

My family and I sat in the wrong seats when we first got to the game. We were not aware of this until the rightful owners came up to notify us. That’s a special feeling isn’t it? Only intensified by the fact that dozens of people are privy to your humiliation as you fumble for your ticket and say, “noooo we have row 29 seats 7-10. Don’t tell me my business devil woman.” “Yeah except this is row 28.” “Oh. Well. Round one to you then.”

 

Check out the statistical nitty gritty here.

The Rockets do it again on Sunday at 6PM CST against the Trailblazers.

Tags: Houston Rockets

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