Houston Rockets: The ups and downs of watching small ball

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets were competitive the entire contest against the Blazers last night but small ball ultimately did them in. What are the ups and downs?

The Houston Rockets fell to the Portland Trail Blazers last night in a way that I thought wouldn’t happen.  With the incredible yet resilient level of play that had against their previous two opponents — the Dallas Mavericks and the Milwaukee Bucks — one would’ve thought that this impressive level of play would continue.

But just as with anything in life, there are cycles that occur of evolution and last night’s just happened one of those days where they didn’t quite have it to get over the bump.  From getting out-rebounded 64-39 — only five offensive rebounds for the Houston Rockets — to the abysmal shooting in the first half, the writing appeared to be on the wall throughout that contest until the final seconds ticked off.

Nonetheless, it’s always great to see James Harden, Russell Westbrook, P.J. Tucker and even Danuel House as of late getting to work on the hardwood.

But this should be of no surprise because the Houston Rockets are holding onto the small ball concept and these are the nights that are going to make us cringe when they aren’t necessarily hitting their shots at a high clip.

That’s were that big man becomes mighty useful in being able to neutralize and stop the bleeding whenever things get cold.  Centers help control the tempo and keep things in check with their presence in the paint.

However, with the three-pointer being integral to team strategies, you have to get creative with

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what a center can do because if they don’t have the ability to defend guards either running around them or staying parked at the three-point line, the point is moot.

This is largely the reason why Clint Capela was traded as he continuously was in Mike D’Antoni‘s doghouse and even 6-foot-7 Robert Covington does a solid job when he’s not overmatched to help this team defend.

If the Rockets were a dominant defensive team — they’re decent overall and can turn it up when needed — then the small ball scheme would be even stronger but if they’re not hitting their shots, things can go south pretty quickly.

The peculiar aspect about last night’s game was that they were in it the whole way with their deficit not getting larger than 13 but with only two lead changes and four ties, this contest was in the Blazers’ hands from the get-go.

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This is part of the ups-and-downs with the small ball blueprint, some nights they have it, some they don’t but this team will live to fight another day and will likely be one of the few teams left standing when proverbial playoff dust settles from stiff competition.

Let’s keep it going — go Houston Rockets.