Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Recap: Houston Rockets 96 – Brooklyn Nets 105


The Nets flex their Dad strength and grind their way to a win over our Houston Rockets.

 

Rockets got abused worse than Jay-Z did on Nas’ diss track, Ether. Imma leave it there cause Beyonce is from Houston and I got mad respect. Or something like that.

You know “Dad strength” right? Like when you wrestled with your dad when you were a kid but no matter what move you threw at him he would just pick you up, strand you in the air, and then toss you onto the nearest semi-comfortable surface. Although semi-comfortable was a loosely held term….I’ve been training dad, ain’t no such thing as grandpa strength. Or at least I hope not.

A lot of the Brooklyn roster is old enough to be Isaiah Canaan‘s dad, so I don’t think this comparison is too far off.

One more thing before the recap. If you can form a coherent argument that excuses James Harden of the embarrassing effort he displayed on the court tonight then you could probably convince the UN that North Korea is just misunderstood, and your talents are most likely being severely underutilized. It was truly amazing to watch Harden care so little for all 36 minutes he played (-17, worst on the team). Offensively it didn’t get embarrassing until the second half but that was the sloppiest 26 points I’ve ever seen, and without the help of the refs this game could have really gotten out of hand.

I try to use logic when playing armchair psychiatrist, just so I can hopefully gain some insight into why players do the things they do. But I can’t wrap my head around when Harden decides to put forth effort and when he doesn’t. On a night when we were clearly SO short handed defensively Harden elected to play even less defense than he normally does. The following sequence was repeated at least a dozen times.

  • Harden jogs back on defense.
  • He stops at the top of the key, or down low just outside the paint.
  • Hasn’t decided which player is his yet, and doesn’t seem interested in reaching the conclusion.
  • Ball swings to his opposite side.
  • Stares hole in ball.
  • Slowly makes his way into help defense position.
  • Doesn’t help when opportunity presents itself.
  • Ball gets swung out to his man, whom Harden had assumed left the court I guess, for wide open shot.
  • Harden berates his teammates for some made up blown assignment, in attempt to deflect blame from self.
  • Rinse and repeat.

The other scenario is much shorter.

  • Harden matches up on the ball.
  • Opponent takes step towards basket.
  • Harden feels he is already beat, and must reach around to poke ball out, and then misses.
  • Completely exposes his teammates to the offensive drive.

It’s not breaking news that Harden is bad at defense. And honestly if it was just the defense, I would be ok with his performance because I recognize all the good he brings to the team, especially lately. The thing that actually crawls up underneath my skin and dies is how he goes after his teammates even when it is so obviously his fault that his teammates were exposed. And not a single one of the Rockets come back at him. Parson’s would have probably been the only one with the credentials to do so, but I anxiously await the day this happens. Right as Harden is about to throw one of his little stomp fits, Parsons walks up to him, grabs him by the beard, and slaps him, “No. Just no.” Is that too much to ask for?

TO THE RECAP!

The Skinny

 

Analysts love talking about pace. It’s one of the few important things that the human eye can almost correctly measure, and therefore doesn’t require an advanced stat sheet to back the claims you make in regards to it. Try guessing what your team’s True Shooting Percentage is just by watching the game, it’s damn near impossible. This game gave the analysts plenty to babble about, as pace was absolutely crucial to the Nets pulling off the win.

Watching this game was like being a passenger in a Drivers Ed vehicle while the student has the throttle to the floor and the teacher is laying into the brake on his set of instructor pedals. The Nets want to move slow, the Rockets want to move fast and who ever dominated the pace, dominated the moment.

The loss was a result of not controlling the pace for long enough stretches of time. The Rockets went into this game missing Patrick Beverley, Dwight Howard, and Terrence Jones which resulted in a staggering amount of mismatches between the two team’s respective starters.

Joe Johnson went to work on Parsons, Pierce on D-Mo and Harden, Livingston on Lin, D-Will on whoever was on him at the time and then the one that hurt the most, Andray Blatche on everyone not named Omer Asik. ANDRAY BLATCHE. It was a lot of Iso game for Brooklyn but with Houston’s weak individual defenders littered about the court, it played right into their strengths.

Something that was nice to see was the regular second unit playing well together in the second quarter. The Harden-less squad pretty much won the quarter on their own. Lin, Garcia, Hamilton, Parsons and Asik. They started the second quarter with this lineup (although Canaan was in briefly for Lin) and it played until 5:20 mark, erasing the Nets’ lead and giving the Rockets a 45-41 advantage. Harden and D-Mo then came in and we proceeded to score one more field goal for the rest of the quarter. At the half we were losing 54-51 and it seemed pretty lucky that we were just down three.

The Rockets lost both the third and fourth quarters, for much the same reason why they struggled in the first. They weren’t hitting open shots, they couldn’t physically match up with the Brooklyn starters, and the defensive effort was atrocious. Also Joe Johnson had a hell of a night with 32 points.

A Couple Good Things From Tonight

Chandler Parsons

He played pretty well. Made good decisions and appropriately burned the older defenders who tried to mark him. Had a great night finishing at the rim, which I felt like he had been struggling with lately.

Omer Asik

He set his career high with 23 rebounds! Dude added another entire reel to his audition tape for this summer’s trade talks. We’ll just cut out all the missed layups…

 

It was a game I’d like to forget, especially in light of the playoffs being so near. The Rockets weren’t at full strength and I imagine had they been, Harden could have spent his time beard braiding and the team would have won. I’m not worried about the loss, I’m worried about how this team performed with a few players out of the lineup. It is entirely possible we will be missing Beverley for the playoffs, and we would be just one freak injury away from a roster that resembles tonight’s hodgepodge, so if that happens, do we expect the Rockets to rise and attempt to overcome adversity, or succumb to defeat like they did tonight? I honestly don’t know.

 

Tonight’s statistical nitty gritty is here.

They do it again Wednesday at 6PM CST against the Raptors.

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