Rockets Continue to Build on their Blowout of Knicks by Routing the Raptors

I thought tonight’s game would be close, because the Raptors have lost a lot of heart breakers recently and they really needed this game. Despite shooting well from the field, they got nearly blown out by the Rockets, who shot even better and played a complete game for a full 48 minutes on both ends of the court. This was a great blow out for the Rockets, because it wasn’t like the Raptors played terribly. They played well on the offensive end and we were still able to almost blow them out. That’s a great sign.

In the past two games, the Rockets are looking like how I expected them to look since the beginning of the season. They’re moving the ball so well and playing very unselfishly. Tonight, we got 6 players in double figures. That’s what I love about this Rockets team. It’s rarely just one player getting it done. It’s often a complete team effort and everyone is getting their touches. Tonight, Harden had 12 assists and Lin added 10. Linharden was back tonight. Lin played one of his best if not his best game as a Rockets. When Lin was out of the game, the Raptors made a run in the second quarter and the fourth quarter. I think tonight Lin played the most minutes of the regular session games that he’s played under Sampson. And I was so happy to see Lin finally hitting outside shots. He went 7 of 9 tonight and was robbed of a point, when he wasn’t given credit for a 3-pointer. He should have ended with 17 points, not 16 points. At least it was a blowout, so that one point didn’t matter. I guess those extra 30 minutes he spent shooting threes after practice payed off. It was also great to see Lin driving to the basket and finishing several times. He also rendered Lowry completely ineffective on the defensive end, including racking up 3 steals. So I think Lin had his best all-around game as a Rockets. Hope he continues to build on this. I think that Knicks game really helped get his confidence back and also was a load lifted for Lin. So I’m hoping to see Lin continue to improve from here.

Asik and Harden were very solid, once again, and Patterson had a great game. I think Harden is really settling into his role with the Rockets. It’s great to see the consistency in his game, as well as that of Asik’s The Rockets can always depend on these two guys to get it done nearly every night.

Now that Asik and Lin got revenge on their former teams, it’s time for Harden to do the same in tomorrow’s game against OKC. That’s gonna be a tough one. I’d be surprised if the Rockets win that game. If they do, than the Rockets are much further along than probably anyone expected at this stage in the season.

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Rockets Show how Good They can be with Stunning Blow Out of Knicks

Apologies for the delayed game posting. Just been busy with holiday festivities.

I didn’t get a chance to see this entire game. I only started watching with less than 5 minutes or so to go in the second quarter, so I missed Chandler’s 18-point first quarter performance. When I turned on the game, I was very surprised to see the Rockets ahead by 3 and that was after the Knicks went on an 11 to 2 run. Because the Rockets had looked pretty bad against the Lakers and the Jazz (and they weren’t great against the Bulls, either), I expected the Rockets to get blown out by the Knicks.

However, before their Lakers and Jazz performance, I expected the Rockets to be as good as they were last night, ever since the beginning of the season. But they hadn’t looked good, lately, so I thought it would take a lot more time for the Rockets to show their full potential. Last night, the Rockets really shocked me by playing up to their potential. Although they’ve had stretches or quarters in previous games where they were firing on all cylinders offensively or defensively, this is the first game in which the Rockets were on for a full 48 minutes on both ends of the court. The Knicks looked like they were just not expecting the Rockets to be that good, so I think that may have contributed to the blow out. I think the Knicks under-estimated the Rockets. But that’s a little surprising, because I would think that it would be a game that the Knicks would really want to win, just as much as Lin did. So I’m not sure if it’s accurate to say that the Knicks just didn’t show up. I think Knicks simply got outplayed. The Rockets exposed their poor defense, which was is surprising to me, because Woodson is all about defense. I haven’t watched the Knicks all season, so I have no idea how they play. I’ve just been seeing them win game after game, so I figured they were good. But last night, they looked like the Knicks of last season–except they were much better shooters.

Parsons and Asik had the best games of their careers and Harden had one of his best games, as well. Lin did better than he has done in weeks and even hit a three point shot. His first, probably since the air ball in Miami. I think that air ball has had a huge impact on Lin’s game, because ever since then he’s been shooting terribly. Hopefully, that three he hit last night stops his awful shooting slump and he can get back to being an adequate shooter from the field. Of course, Lin really wanted to do well last night and, although he wasn’t stellar by any means compared to his teammates, he definitely stepped up from his terrible performance as of late. So that’s going to do a lot to boost his confidence. Maybe this is just the “breakout game’ that Lin needed. I’m sure Lin was just as concerned as I was about facing the Knicks. Now that it resulted in the Rockets not just winning but obliterating the Knicks, I’m sure that will have a significant positive impact on Lin’s psyche. I thought coach Sampson really looked out for Lin tonight, knowing that Lin really wanted to do well against the Knicks. Sampson gave Lin more playing time than he has since he took over for McHale. I know the total minutes didn’t speak to that, but that’s because most of the fourth quarter was garbage time. So the fact that Lin played 35 minutes in basically three quarters says that Sampson really wanted this game to be a confidence booster for Lin. Sampson also left Lin in the game for the last possession before halftime without Harden and let Lin make a play, which resulted in a wide wide open three for Douglas. So I’m happy to see the Rockets continuing to experiment with the ball in Lin’s hands at the end of quarters. In the post game interview, Sampson said that Lin played with swag and that he was really happy to see that. Even though Sampson doesn’t have full confidence in Lin, I think he is a Lin supporter, who wants to see Lin play aggressively if it will help the team. So it’s really up to Lin to do well. I think he has a pretty good support network in Houston. He’s the only one who can get himself out of his shooting slump. And really that’s the only thing he needs to get better at. He’s solid in all other aspects of his game. Just needs to be able to shoot adequately to keep the defense honest.

The last two games have been huge for the Rockets psychologically. They gutted out a grinder against a rugged Bulls team in which they won the game even though they did a lot of things wrong and they blew out the team with the best record in the NBA. These two wins are huge confidence boosters. Hopefully, the Rockets will build on these two wins. As great as the Rockets looked last night, they have potential for more, because Lin is still not playing up to Lin’s capabilities. Once Lin gets his rhythm back and starts being an adequate shooter, the Rockets can become even more dangerous. So it’s really all up to Lin, because he’s the only key Rockets player that has been struggling. I feel like all the other key Rockets guys have been consistently solid. Parsons really struggled at the beginning of the season, but he’s really come alive since then and has been playing well above expectations. All the work he did off-season has really paid off. Harden has done a great job of playing his game again after a short stretch where he was forcing things too much and playing hero ball. I think Harden has figured how to play within the flow of the offense, which is something he’s always done and is starting to be more efficient, again. Asik has been the most consistently solid and is continuing to improve his offensive game. He’s making concerted efforts to go hard to the rim and dunk the ball like a powerful center, rather than finessing his shots. Lin is the only key player who has been struggling consistently. So the Rockets won’t be able to play to their potential until Lin can get out of his shooting slump and can keep the defense honest. Once Lin does this, the the Rockets can be the team that I envisioned them to be at the beginning of the season, when I said that they’d be a lock to make the playoffs. If Lin doesn’t improve, then I think the Rockets will continue to be up and down all season long and finish slightly under 500.

Rockets More Dangerous with the Ball Starting Out in Lin’s Hands with the Game on the Line

The conventional wisdom in basketball is that you want the ball in the hands of your best player during clutch time and most of the time, this is the right thing to do. In the Rockets’s case, I think they’re more dangerous with the ball starting out in Lin’s hands when the game is on the line, rather than Harden (their best player). Critics may accuse me of being a blind Lin fan, but it’s really not about making Lin a hero. It’s all about what I think is best for the Rockets team as a whole.

Although Harden is a gifted scorer and, at times, a very good play maker. Harden has the disadvantage of the defense collapsing on him during clutch time. Admittedly, the Rockets have only played a limited number of games together, but Harden hasn’t shown that he helps the Rockets with the ball in his hands when the game is on the line (this is probably one of the reasons why the Rockets have been losing so many close games). More often than not, Harden ends up playing hero ball or gets trapped and doesn’t know what to do with the ball.

I think, although Lin is struggling tremendously with his shot, it actually makes sense to start off with the ball in Lin’s hands in the final minutes of the game. This may seem counter-intuitive, since you don’t want Lin putting up another air ball, but I would argue that when you start the ball off in Lin’s hands, you have a lower chance of him ending up with the final shot. I think Lin is more likely to give the ball up to one of his teammates so they can take the final shot.

Harden is a good play maker, but I think Lin has slightly better court vision and decision making. He also has a better knack for giving the ball to his teammates where and when they can be most successful. But lets say that Harden is just as good at Lin at these things. Even so, the key advantage that Lin has over Harden is that the defense is much less likely to collapse on him than Harden. So Lin can make decisions with a clearer head than Harden with the game on the line.

When we put the ball in Harden’s hands, we make it easier for the defense, because they mainly have to worry about one man. As a result, the Rockets become a one-man team, because Harden ends up playing hero ball. But with the ball in Lin’s hands, the Rockets have four or five weapons (depending on whether or not you trust Lin with the final shot–Lin did put the Rockets up by three with an and-1 drive to the basket against the Blazers in Houston that should have won the game for the Rockets). The Rockets have a lot of players, other than Harden, who are capable of hitting clutch shots (e.g., Parsons, Delfino, Morris). However, when Harden has the ball, all these players tend to just stand around watching Harden (thus, Rockets become a one-man team), whereas when Lin has the ball, these players are more motivated to move around to get open, because they don’t trust Lin with the last shot. This is another counter-intuitive benefit of not starting the ball off with your best scorer. So when the ball starts out in Lin’s hands, the defense has to worry about all four or five Rockets players, including Harden.

This is why I think the Rockets are more dangerous with the ball starting out in Lin’s hands with the game on the line. I’m not sure if the Rockets will figure this out. This is nothing against the Rockets organization. This more has to do with how entrenched the conventional wisdom of having the ball in the hands of your best player during clutch time is in basketball. Add that to Lin’s air ball in the Miami game and the fact that Sampson inexplicably took Lin out in the OT game in Portland and the prospects don’t look good for the Rockets trusting Lin with the ball in clutch time. However, Morey is data driven enough that I’m hoping his data will reveal to him that the Rockets aren’t very successful with the ball in Harden’s hands in the final minutes of the game and it will encourage them to experiment with the ball in Lin’s hands. I mean, after all, Lin had elite clutch stats last season. Sure, he’s not the same player he was during Linsanity, but I think his court vision and decision making are still intact.

One encouraging sign that the Rockets may want to experiment with Lin with the ball in the final minutes is that in the game at Portland, they did give Lin the ball in the final possession of two quarters. I forgot which quarters they were. We’ll see if they continue this experiment in future games so they can start gathering data. I hope they do, rather than just rely blindly on conventional wisdom. Morey is an unconventional thinker, but I just don’t see Sampson and McHale bucking convention. Usually, I’m humbled by the fact that the Rockets organization knows way more about the game than I do, but in this case, I think I’m in a more advantageous position, because I’m not as entrenched in conventional basketball thinking. So I think I’ve discovered something that may take the Rockets more time to figure out if they ever do. We’ll see.

Blazers did it to the Rockets Again–With the Help of Sampson’s Poor Decision to take Lin out in Overtime

Since I was at this game, I got an up-close and personal look at almost a repeat of the match-up in Houston. Houston was in control for nearly the entire game. The Blazers didn’t take a lead until a minute or so left in the game. Then Sampson made a terrible mistake, which McHale is not going to be very happy with I can guarantee you that, by favoring Douglas over Lin in overtime. This decision by Sampson was just plain wrong. It’s hard to prove what could have been, but I feel strongly that Houston would have won the game if Lin had been in instead of Douglas. It’s not that Douglas did anything wrong in particular, but the offense is completely different when you have Lin vs. Douglas. I just felt like Rockets would have had better ball movement with Lin on the floor and that could have been the difference in the game, since Rockets had trouble scoring in overtime.

I wouldn’t have blamed Sampson for substituting Douglas for Lin in the last game (against the Hornets), because Lin didn’t contribute much offensively and Douglas was on. But in the Blazers game, Lin looked the best he’s looked since the last Portland match-up. Although, I think my perspective may have been skewed, because I had the luxury of focusing on Lin the entire game.

Last night, Lin played as aggressively as I’ve seen him play since he’s been in Houston. I think the coaches are releasing some of the constraints they’ve put on Lin, because I saw Lin calling for some screens. I also saw Lin making a concerted effort to go to his left, even when he didn’t need to, to prove that he can go to his left. These may have been things I noticed, because I was so focused on him. So not sure if my reading was entirely accurate. Lin did have 11 assists, last night, so I don’t think my reading of Lin was that far off. I just felt like he made significant contributions to the offense by being aggressive when he needed to be and helping to move the ball. Lin also is the best on the team at giving the ball to his teammates exactly when and where they want it. Lin did a great job of that, last night and that’s why he ended up with 11 assists.

On the flip side, Douglas was terrible last night. He went 2 of 11 from the field. He put up more shots that Lin and played fewer minutes and ended up making fewer shots. He also dribbles way too much and doesn’t help move the ball. That’s why I think having Lin in the game in overtime would have made a significant difference and could have won the Rockets the game.

I have no idea what coach Sampson was thinking. When he took Lin out of the game in the final two minute or so in the fourth quarter, Lillard nailed a three over Douglas. So after the timeout, Sampson put Lin back and I was very proud of Sampson for admitting his mistake. Despite Lillard’s 27 points, most of which he got late in the game in in overtime, I thought Lin did an excellent job of containing Liillard when Lin was on him. Lillard rarely touched the ball in the first quarter and only started coming alive in the third quarter or so. Got to give Lillard credit. He shows up when the game is on the line. Plays with the poise of e veteran. So a lot of times, it really doesn’t matter what you do, Lillard will get his points in clutch time. Lillard got a lot of his points when Douglas was on him. So Sampson’s decision to replace Lin with Douglas in overtime doesn’t even make sense from a defensive standpoint, because presumably that was Sampson’s reason for favoring Douglas over Lin.

Sampson like’s Douglas’s athleticism. Yeah, Douglas is a very aggressive defender, but I think Lin is just as aggressive. But Lin is also a very smart defender. When Douglas is defending aggressively, I’m always worried that he’s going to get called for a foul. During clutch time, it’s critical to not get called for unintentional fouls, so that’s another reason to not have Douglas in the game when the game is on the line. There are just so many reasons why Sampson’s decision to take Lin out in overtime was wrong. The only reason I would support his decision is that at this point, I trust Douglas’s shooting more than Lin’s. But Douglas is also a very streaky shooter so that advantage is minimal and not anywhere near enough to justify favoring Douglas over Lin. Also, Douglas was 2 of 11 from the field and 0 for 5 from three point last night.

Lin had one of his better games as a Rockets and Douglas was back to being Douglas, so it made no sense to favor Douglas over Lin. I know I’m repeating myself, but I can’t help it. I just don’t know what was going through Sampson’s mind. Of all games, why would he favor Douglas over Lin in last night’s game. Why didn’t he do it in the game against the Hornets? I would have been fine with that. The only other explanation is that Lin asked to be taken out, because Lin doesn’t trust his own shooting at the end of games at this point. But I can’t imagine Lin asking to be taken out during clutch time. I’m sure McHale is enraged over Sampson’s decision to take Lin out in overtime as are probably most of the Rockets organization.

It may sound like I’m not a big fan of Sampson, but I actually think he’s very knowledgeable of the game. I think his post-game comments are spot on. And I feel like he does a good job of knowing when to play which players for the most part, although in the Miami game, he made a HUGE mistake by not putting Asik back in when Wade was on the free throw line, resulting in Bosh getting the offensive rebound, which basically sealed Miami’s win. He also didn’t put Asik back in at the end of the game last night when we needed a rebound on a Harden intentional miss at the free throw line. He was right to take Asik out when he did in the Miami game, but he made a mistake by losing track of Asik and not putting him back in to rebound the ball. Sampson seems to do a good job for most of the game, but then seems to lose track of his key players, like when he mismanaged Lin’s minutes in the Hornets game. And then he makes critical errors or just blatant poor decisions at the end of games. I’m not sure if this is just because he hasn’t coached in a while or he just favors certain players and that clouds his judgment at the end of games, because he definitely seems to favor Douglas over Lin or at least he’s a bigger fan of Douglas than probably anyone in basketball.

Anyway, I think I’ve said enough about Sampson’s poor decision to take Lin out in overtime. I’m hoping everyone within Houston’s organization feels the same way so that Sampson won’t make that mistake again.

Overall, I thought both teams played well last night. The blazers were just on fire–especially Batum, who had a career high 35 points (hitting 5 of 8 from three point). I did take some videos of the game, but I didn’t capture anything great and my camera phone makes everything look at lot farther away, so you can’t really see much. I’ll see if there’s anything worth uploading.

I actually had very good seats an felt like I was right in the action. I didn’t feel like I missed any angles on the floor. During the pregame, Lin missed a fair number of practice shots, so I think for whatever reason, Lin just doesn’t have his shot. It has nothing to do with the pressure of the games. That’s why he’s missing wide open shots in games, because he’s missing them even when he’s practicing shooting. That being said, I was a little horrified at the number of missed baskets during pregame by professional basketball players. I always figured they’d make like 90 percent of their shots or something when they’re practicing shooting. But that’s not the case. They even miss like 3 foot jumpers. It’s a little ridiculous.

There were a lot of positives in last night’s game. So I don’t feel too bad about the loss. With this Rockets team, I try not to focus too much on the present. It’s not so much about winning games as it is about improving their chemistry with each game. And I feel like they’ve done a pretty good job of gelling ever since the Miami game.

A great thing to see is Morris hitting the three that tied the game. It wasn’t an easy basket and he nailed it, just like he did in the Miami game. So Morris is building on his confidence. Parsons ended up with 19 points, which was surprising to me, because I didn’t think he had many touches–especially in the fourth quarter and in overtime. Harden had another solid game, in which he wasn’t trying to force too much. One thing I will say about Harden, though, is that he has yet to prove that he should be the primary ball handler during clutch time. I don’t think he makes very good decisions during clutch time and ends up forcing a shot himself or he ends up getting trapped and doesn’t know what to do with the ball. I’m hoping the Rockets review his game during clutch and maybe not rely on him as heavily as we have. It seems like on the last possession in particular, we rely a little too much on Harden–although last night Morris did hit the game tying three and in the Miami game, Lin could have hit the game winning three. So maybe I’m being a little too hard on Harden. But it seems like he always gets into these traps and ends up forcing something, while everyone stands around watching Harden during clutch time. I think it has hurt the Rockets to take the ball out of Lin’s hands during clutch time. I think they need to continue to have Lin take the ball up, even during clutch time, because I feel like Lin makes better decisions than Harden. Harden just ends up playing hero ball and doesn’t have the vision that Lin has. Lin does a better job of knowing where his teammates are and understanding when and where to give them the ball in order for them to be successful. Lin is also very good about knowing which players are hot and should get more touches. So with Lin controlling the ball during clutch time, we become  more dangerous, because we have five weapons, rather than just one weapon when Harden is controlling the ball. I think we make it too easy on the defense when we have Harden control the ball, because the defense just collapses around Harden, whereas with Lin controlling the ball, the defense has to worry about Harden and Lin is free to make good decisions. Unfortunately, I don’t think even the Rockets organization will figure this out. So I’m afraid they’re going to continue to put the ball in the hands of their best player, as per conventional thinking. The reason I don’t think the Rockets will figure out what I’ve figured out is because that conventional thinking of giving the ball to your best player during clutch time usually works. But I think the Rockets have a unique case in which they have two players who can make plays and even though Harden is a better player than Lin, Lin actually has better vision and decision-making and Harden has the disadvantage of the defense being focused on him. It’s counter-intuitive thinking to not put the ball in the hands of our best player, but in the case of the Rockets, putting the ball in Lin’s hands is the right move. Other players in the Rockets (i.e., Parsons, Morris, Delfino) have proven they can hit clutch shots, so there’s no need to just use Harden as our only threat during clutch time. I know the Rockets reason that Harden can make the right play, but I would argue that Lin makes better decision and on top of it, Lin doesn’t have the disadvantage of the defense collapsing on him so he will be more clear-headed. The other reason why I don’t think the Rockets will figure this out is because of Lin’s air ball in Miami. That’s probably part of the reason why Sampson took Lin out in overtime last night. But this is faulty logic. I think when you start with the ball in Lin’s hands, you actually have a lower chance of him taking the final shot, because he’ll end up putting the ball in the hands of someone else on the team. Whereas if you have the ball in the hands of Harden, you may end up with Lin taking the final shot, because Harden may have to give up the ball. But I don’t have confidence that the Rockets will figure this out, because the conventional thinking of giving the ball to your best player during clutch time is too entrenched.

Apologies for the very long rambling post, in which I’ve repeated the same points over and over. I just had to get these things off my chest. I should put together a more coherent post about some of these points I’ve made here in another post, since I think the point I’ve made about the mistake of overusing Harden during clutch time is a revelation.

Harden Leads Good Team Win Against the Hornets

Started slow and ended slow. Rockets still need to work on doing a better job of closing out games. Parsons, once again, hit some clutch shots (even though he only shot 4 of 14 for the game) to secure the lead for the Rockets. And, once again, the Rockets struggled in the final few minutes of the game.

Looks like Lin still hasn’t recovered from that air ball against Miami, because nothing was falling for him tonight. He took good shots. They just didn’t fall. But it was good to see him take those shots early on. When they didn’t fall, Lin stopped shooting. Can’t blame him for that.

I was surprised that Sampson didn’t bench Lin tonight, because Douglas had his best game of the season and I don’t think Sampson is such a big fan of Lin. Douglas was feeling it tonight, so I don’t think anyone would have blamed Sampson for benching Lin. I thought Sampson did a strange job of managing Lin’s minutes tonight. He would rest him for long stretches, which made sense, but then he  ended up leaving Lin in for the entire fourth quarter. At first, I thought he was planning on playing Lin at the beginning of the fourth quarter in order to take Lin out in the final five minutes or so of the game in favor of Douglas or something. But he didn’t. Sampson left Lin out there the entire fourth quarter until the final possession or so. That didn’t make too much sense to me. But I’m glad Sampson didn’t bench Lin in the final five minutes like I expected him to. That would have been a huge blow to Lin’s already vulnerable state of mind.

Overall, Lin probably should have had at least three or four more assists, since he gave his teammates the ball in great places, but his teammates just couldn’t convert. Overall, though, I didn’t think Lin played very well tonight. He’s still struggling and playing too passively. He’s still not doing and PnRs, while Harden did quite a few. His only great stat of the night was 3 steals (which was the entire Rockets total) and 1 block shot.

It was good to see Greg Smith out there and it was great to see Morris maintaining his great shooting. Harden also had another great game and so did Asik. Overall, I thought we moved the ball well tonight, except for during the fourth quarter. Just need to work on closing games and also coming out strong. I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get Lin out of his slump. He’s just not playing his game at all. That’s why he’s struggling. My big question is that I don’t know if he’s not playing his game because of his own doing or the coaching staff want him to take on a roll that does not play to his strengths.

 

 

Good Team Effort in Loss to Heat

The Rockets started off looking like they would be run over by the Heat when they were down 5 to 22. But the Rockets made it a game after they got over the nerves of playing Lebron and company. Good team effort overall. Four of our starters (minus Lin) scored around the 20 point mark. The ball moved much better today and our shots started falling after the poor start. Still shooting well under 50 percent, though.

Lin wasn’t very effective for most of the first half. He played extremely passively, then contributed more in the second half, but still wasn’t very aggressive. Harden had his fewest turnovers since he’s been in Houston (2). And as a team, the Rockets only had 11 turnovers, which is tremendous. Lin’s only great statistic of the night was his three blocked shots. Wow! I saw a couple, but didn’t know he ended up with three.

The Rockets did a great job to pull ahead in the fourth quarter, but I had a strong feeling that they would end up losing the game, even after Parsons hit a three to give the Rockets a solid lead. I just knew the Heat would continue to put pressure on the young Rockets team and as a result the Rockets wouldn’t be able to hold Lebron and company off to maintain the lead till the end.

Lin had a chance to be the hero and ended up air-balling a wide open shot. That was ridiculous. Only thing I can think of is nerves. He didn’t shoot the ball with confidence. Too much second-guessing –that’s how you get an air ball in those situations. The second-guessing disrupted his natural flow. Linsanity would have hit that shot almost 100 percent of the time. Jeremy’s going to beat himself up for that shot. In the game you can see him repeating over and over “my fault” to his teammates. That horrible miss is not going to help Lin’s case when it comes to involving him at the end of games.

The Rockets had a final chance to tie it up, but we got the wrong shot. The shot Jeremy took was the right shot. It just didn’t go in. But that last shot by Harden was the wrong shot. They should have ran a play to get Delfino open. Harden was doing too much dribbling. But can’t really criticize that too much. It is what it is.

I thought overall Sampson did a solid job. He managed players minutes well, except he didn’t give Parsons enough rest. Even though Harden played almost as many minutes as Parsons, Sampson did a better job of resting Harden. Sampson also experimented with different lineups to take advantage of the Heat line up and that worked out really well. Asik had his best game of the season, scoring a career high 19 points. But aside from that, Asik did everything tonight. Harden also had the best game he’s had since probably his debut games. In particular, he did a good job of taking care of the ball tonight and not forcing shots. So that’s great to see him making adjustments–especially against the best defensive team in the league.

Overall (minus the 5-22 start), I thought it was the best the Rockets had looked all season, even though we ended up losing the game. Hope we can continue building on this game and hope Lin leaves that shot behind him. He can’t let that haunt him. Just gotta forget about it and move on. Easier said than done. We’ll see how it affects his next few games.

Another Ugly Game for Linharden as Rockets lose to Grizzlies

To be honest, I fully expected the Rockets to lose tonight, so was surprised to find them up when I started watching late in the first quarter. They didn’t look very good against the Nuggets and the Grizzlies are looking like a better team, so I expected the Rockets to have a tough time, but the game was pretty much close the entire time. Just wasn’t a very exciting game to watch. Rockets still don’t have chemistry, as expected.

I think tonight was Lin’s worst game of the season, if it weren’t for the fourth quarter. Up until the fourth quarter he wasn’t contributing much to the game. Scoring stats look good, only because of the fourth quarter, but in terms of contributions he made to helping the team and all of that, I thought it was his worst game. Parsons had a good shooting game. Other than that, there wasn’t much that looked good for the Rockets tonight, but I fully expected that. So it didn’t bother me too much. McHale did play Lin without Harden tonight. So that was nice to see. I feel like Lin is still not getting much help (or respect?) from his teammates and it’s understandable, because he hasn’t been very aggressive. I did see one possession in the beginning of the fourth quarter, I believe, when the clock was winding down and Lin called Patterson for a screen, but Patterson refused and Lin had to throw up a three pointer that was way off as the clock was winding down. Not sure what that was about. Maybe Lin called the screen a little too late, because time was sort of running out. I was happy to see Lin call for a screen though. He’s gotta do that more.

It was nice to see Lin turn it on in the fourth and Lin’s teammates actually gave him the ball quite a bit in the fourth, because he delivered. This is why I think it’s all up to Lin, because if Lin performs his teammates will start trusting him more. Grizzlies had such a big lead with a little over 4 minutes to go that Lin’s clutch play wasn’t enough, though. The key possession was Asik fumbling a Lin pass right under the basket that could have pulled us within two. After that possession, the Grizzlies just pulled away and got some bounces that went their way.

I think it’s gonna take a while for this Rockets team to gel. For some odd reason, they actually had great team chemistry with Martin in the preseason. But it’s hard to judge, because it was the preseason. But I remember being very impressed with the Rockets team in the preseason. They were shooting so well and moving the ball so rapidly. Guys were moving without the ball. The Rockets with Harden remind me of the Knicks last year with poor shooting and poor ball movement. They aren’t nearly as bad as the Knicks last year. No one can be that awful when it comes to poor ball movement. But this Rockets team looks terrible compared to the preseason Rockets team when it comes to ball movement. I think the Rockets coaching staff is focusing too much on Harden and it’s hurting the Rockets ball movement. I think they need to go back to more of a free-flowing offense. I think Harden works better in a free-flowing offense. Just let Harden and Lin do their thing. Just let them play. I felt like Lin and Harden had great chemistry before all of these practices. Just keep it simple. But maybe I’m jumping the gun, because it takes time for the chemistry to build. Just need to have patience as they work things out.  I still say they should do some Linharden pick-and-rolls. They’ve gotta get Lin and Harden to play more off each other. Not sure why they haven’t tried that. Probably because it’s unconventional. But I think they have to find was to take advantage of having both Lin and Harden on the court together. The most obvious way to me is to have them set screens for each other. I know it’s not ideal, because they don’t have big bodies, but they have the speed to burst out of screens and get open. I would love to at least see it just to see how it would look like in games. I doubt they’ll do it, though, cause I haven’t seen too many interesting plays from McHale.