So when is Beverley coming back? Can he come back? It would be great if he would come back. Rockets lose.
At times it seriously seemed like Lin was playing against us. It got so bad that Mchale opted not to play a point guard and instead go with Harden at point, with a lineup of small and power forwards. And then what the hell happened to Jordan Hamilton? I wasn’t able to watch the last few games, and I had heard he fell out of the lineup but I haven’t heard why.
What if Jeremy really is THIS player? He has shown me enough over the past couple years that I always felt like he would get it together and learn to play within his role. But it actually seems like he is devolving.
THE most of important question of all though; if he continues down this road and out of the league, what will Lin fans do with that 6-7 hours a day they spend making game-by-game highlight reels then hitting the replay button until they develop carpal tunnel?
However Lin was not the only problem by any stretch of the imagination. The worst aspect of tonight was the total team apathy exhibited for stretches in the first and third quarters. I imagine this is what the last few games have looked like, and I feel blessed to have not witnessed it with my own eyes. The difference in the defensive ratings since Howard and Beverley went down have been well documented. This team is far below average without them. The center is the most important defensive player on the court while the point guard in general will carry a lot less weight in regards to the team’s overall defensive ratings. We replaced the injured Howard with Omer Asik, a player who has proven last year that he can keep a team at least average on his own. We replaced Bev with Lin, but like I said, the PG would have a limited impact anyways. So I was wondering why our ratings continue to plummet if we are effectively playing a more experienced version of last years team. If you watch the product on the floor, then the answer reveals itself to be that the players (perimeter especially) could give a rat’s ass about leaving some effort on the floor.
Many (including myself) joked that we lost the soul of the team when Bev went down. I believed that the overwhelming talent this team displays couldn’t be grounded by the loss of one player but to a certain extent, that seems to be what is happening. The starters without Bev don’t seem to realize they are playing basketball till about the middle of the second quarter, but by then, they are already down double digits. It’s great that Harden has been so heroic in the final seconds of so many games, but we are having to do that way more than a 50+ team should against mediocre teams, especially as they set their sights on a “deep playoff run.”
I understand that the Timberwolves aren’t the first round of the playoffs against the Blazers, and the environment should wake them up. In addition we should be back at full strength by the time we roll into game one. But what if Bev tweaks his knee in game two and misses the rest of the series? I say we would be very lucky to have 50/50 odds at that point.
Is this one game a major problem? No, but taken as part of a sample size of 5-7 games, it offers a disturbing look at the fragility of a young team hoping to take their first steps towards championship contention.
Also Corey Brewer scored 51 points. Oh how the salt burns.
TO THE RECAP!
So the starters got rocked to start the first. The Timberwolves looked like they were hungrily chasing lost hikers in the mountains of Minnesota as they out hustled Houston up and down the court. An insane amount of easy transition buckets fueled Corey Brewer’s night as he was never forced to actually shoot the ball.
The thing about Brewer’s night is that it wasn’t even one of those Nate Robinson, J.R Smith kind of nights where the guy just couldn’t miss. He did miss when he actually shot it. And he looked uncomfortable every time he did. This explosion could have been so easily avoided by just putting forth a little more effort on transition defense.
On a positive note, you want to know who brought the Rockets back to the land of the living? Omri Casspi and Francisco Garcia. The coaching staff made two very nice adjustments that got the Rockets back in this game. Switching to the point guard-less lineup of Harden, Parsons, Cisco, Casspi and TJ. And then also switching on the pick and roll defense which allowed TJ to absolutely stifle Ricky Rubio, and not allow for our guards to be so exposed one-on-one. But Cisco and Casspi brought all the energy they had. They weren’t always successful but the effort was there and that seemed to wake up the rest of the starters. The Rockets actually outplayed Minnesota in the second quarter winning it 31-20 and lead at the half 63-59.
Parsons couldn’t miss in the first half, going 7-9 for 18 points. Harden was shooting well at 4-7 for 15 points and playing negative amounts of defense. At this point Brewer had already collected 26 points but things were looking up.
The starters ruined the vibe again in the third as we once again dropped behind and had to switch to the Harden PG lineup. We led briefly at the end of the quarter, 84-82.
The Rockets, despite their talent couldn’t stop the Timberwolves from getting to the free throw line or scoring in transition. So despite executing pretty well on offense down the stretch, they were really just able to keep pace. The arena was going wild as Brewer achieves his 50 points but the game was still very much in contention.
Then the matchup everyone had anticipated. James Harden vs. Gorgui Dieng. Exciting, I know. Dieng hits a mid-range jumper off Brewer’s first assist of the night with 37 seconds left to give the Wolves a 107-103 lead. Harden drives to cut it to 107-105 with 26 seconds left. We foul Rubio and send him to the line where he misses one and Rockets fans start to say, “ITS GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN!”
First Parsons drives for the easy bucket, we then foul Rubio again but he makes both. So its 110-107 Minny, with 19 seconds left. Harden gets the ball on the in-bounds and nails a three right in Moute’s grill. He freaking did it again. 110-110, 17 seconds left.
But just like we all knew would happen Gorgui had one last move in him. The T-Wolves run a Rubio/Dieng pick and roll, and Rubio slings it messily at Gorgui on his way to the hoop. He bobbles it and has to then shoot a fall away, which he unfortunately hits to make it 112-110. With four seconds left we turn the ball over trying to push it across the floor and the game is over.
Harden finishes with 33 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds, 6 steals and 5 turnovers. Parsons with 27 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 turnovers.
Check out the rest of the statistical nitty gritty here.
The Rockets do it again tonight at 7PM CST against the Pelicans.
Tags: Houston Rockets