Valiant Effort by Rockets in Loss to Spurs – I Blame the Loss on McHale

Don’t have much time to write and don’t have much to say about last night’s game. But did want to get a few things off my chest so that’s why I’m posting.

Although they lost, the Rockets showed that they can compete with the best of them last night. Spurs were shooting the lights out in the first quarter and somehow the Rockets managed to keep pace and remained within striking distance for all three quarters.

Does anyone know what happened to Delfino last night? Is he injured? I haven’t read anything about Delfino being out, but he didn’t play last night. I can sort of understand why McHale played Parsons and Harden over 40 minutes last night, because we lacked a lot of depth, but I still thought he did a poor job of managing minutes and the players were just gassed by the fourth quarter. I’m not sure if we would have won the game if our players weren’t gassed, but I think McHale’s poor management of minutes was the cause for the loss. That and uncharacteristically poor free throw shooting by the Rockets. Also, Asik was ineffective against Duncan, because Duncan has the mid-range game that’s very difficult for Asik to defend. It also opens things up for the Spurs, rendering Asik ineffective. I suspect this is why McHale favored Aldrich over Smith, but not sure if that was the right call by McHale. I’d still probably prefer Smith over Aldrich. But I’m fine with that decision.

What I didn’t like was when McHale took Lin out with 5:50 minutes left to go in the first quarter right after Lin got the ball stolen by a very sneaky Leonard. Leonard came from Lin’s blindside and stole the ball, so I don’t really blame Lin for the turnover. It’s just one of those turnovers that just happen. Just have to chalk it up to a good steal by Leonard. This was right after Lin hit a three point and made a layup on consecutive possessions. Lin just started getting going. I guess it would have been around the time that McHale generally subs Lin out anyway, but I just didn’t like the timing of it. Lin was just starting to heat up and McHale takes Lin out immediately after he got the ball stolen. This is what I mean about McHale’s actions not backing up him saying that he keeps telling Lin to play aggressively. It’s just sending the wrong message. McHale could have waited for a few more minutes to sub Lin out, so it wouldn’t seem like he took Lin out because Lin got the ball stolen. I really didn’t like that move by McHale.

The biggest mistake McHale made last night–in my mind it’s one of those mistakes that should NEVER be made by a coach–was to leave Harden in after he picked up his fourth foul with less than a minute left to go in the third quarter. Then in the next possession, Harden committed his fifth foul and as a result McHale had to sit Harden for a much longer stretch than he prepared for in the critical fourth quarter. Not taking Harden out after his fourth foul was so boneheaded and also emphasizes McHale’s overconfidence in Harden and lack of confidence in Lin. When Lin picked up his third foul in the third quarter, McHale immediately took Lin out. It seems to me that McHale still finds every reason to take Lin out and every reason to keep Harden in. In my view McHale’s mistake came before even Harden’s fourth foul. I was screaming at the screen for McHale to rest Harden and for him to bring Lin back well before Harden’s 4th foul. I would have preferred him to take Harden out with 2 minutes left to go in the third or something–specifically, after a time out was called with under two minutes to go in the third quarter. I have no idea why McHale kept Harden in their. He had played since the beginning of the third quarter. It was time to give Harden some rest so he could come back and play the majority of the critical fourth quarter. In my view McHale’s poor management of Harden’s minutes caused us the game. Those fouls by Harden disrupted any momentum that the Rockets had going into the fourth quarter and when Harden came back he was no longer the same player. McHale should have rested Harden a little earlier in the third quarter and play Harden the majority of the fourth quarter. What I think may work out in general is to have Harden play up until like the three minute mark in the third quarter. Put Lin in and then give Lin like a 2 minute or so rest in the fourth quarter when they bring Harden back at the 10 minute mark or something in the fourth quarter and then Let Harden and Lin finish the game at the 8 minute mark. This isn’t going to make sense every game, but it’s what McHale should do in most games and last night was one of those games that McHale should have done that. Also, McHale needs to do a better job of resting Parsons. I see Parsons consistently play entire quarters without any rest. Now, Parson’s job isn’t as tiring as Lin’s or Harden’s, since he’s not handling the ball a lot, so it’s understandable that McHale would play Parsons without much rest. But still. It all comes down to McHale not giving guys like D-Mo and Jones a chance. But can’t really go into this now. Just wanted to point out reasons why I think the fourth quarter wasn’t as competitive as it should have been. I think McHale should take the blame for the loss, but I know he’s not going to.

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16 thoughts on “Valiant Effort by Rockets in Loss to Spurs – I Blame the Loss on McHale

  1. Philosopher, Delfino was sick and could not play. It is not clear whether he is up for tonight’s game.

    Sigh, you are right about McHale.
    What can I say?
    Lin and Harden looked completely spent after the game. They fought valiantly though.

    It’s gonna be tough tonight, though not as tough as the last time they played OKC. That time, they played right after going to a funeral. Nobody can play well after a funeral.

    • Glad we have Delfino back! I just read about how he blames Ginobili (I think jokingly) for food poisoning him. Pretty funny if it is actually true. Well, I guess not too funny. But can’t help but laugh about the lengths that Ginobili would go to to win.

  2. Your suggestions on how Lin’s and Harden’s minutes could have been better managed in the Spurs game are really impressive; you certainly could do a better coaching job in this respect. As for subbing Lin, well, KM did that again in today’s game against Thunder–he yanked Jeremy out in the 1st quarter right after he committed turnovers despite the fact that he had been doing a decent job dishing out assists and the team was doing fine then. It felt sad seeing that. KM never “punished” Parons or Harden for turnovers, and he even let TD play longer today. Not knowing much about basketball, I could only conclude that the coach values scoring ability more than other things, and since Jeremy’s shooting is considered worse than that of those three, his turnovers gave the coach good reason to take him out. It seems that the only solution for Jeremy is to shoot better and to put up good scoring numbers on a more regular basis. (His good performances in the previous four games are just not convincing enough to the coaches.) As a Lin supporter, I would only hope he gets better and better. However, I’m afraid things won’t look better–the Rockets are getting a new point guard, a guy named Patrick Beverley, who might take away more of Jeremy’s playing time.

    • Thanks very much, Ashley. I don’t know why McHale seems to have such a tough time managing minutes, because that’s one thing you can definitely plan for in advance. I think McHale should tend to keep that more or less consistent, so players know what to expect–at least for the key guys.

      Yeah, McHale did it to Lin again in last night’s game. Sure, Lin didn’t have a great game, but pretty much every Rockets player suffered, except for Morris (and maybe Harden, although Harden did worse than he has been lately). Lin’s turnovers came because he was trying to make plays. i’ll admit that he did make careless passes, but so did many of our players. It was contagious, because everyone was so tired from playing the night before and McHale did such a poor job of managing minutes in the Spurs game that the key players didn’t have much energy last night. This is probably why Morris was the only starter that could get it going, although Asik also didn’t play much the Spurs game, but also struggled last night.

      McHale is still finding every reason to yank Lin and he kept Douglas on the floor way too long last night. McHale should treat Lin more like one of the key players on the team and let Lin play through mistakes. During Linsanity, Lin got to play through mistakes and managed to always turn it around in the fourth quarter.

      Yeah, I think you’re right about McHale seeming to value only scoring. Because Lin did do a fine job of dishing the ball last night, but still got yanked. This is unexpected, because I though the Rockets organization, with all their advanced stats and stat-head GM would appreciate things beyond scoring and can really see the game on a more deeper level. Maybe they can, but they just don’t want to step on McHale’s toes. I don’t know. But it does seem like McHale doesn’t see all the other things Lin can do. All he seems to see is LIn missing shots.

      I generally don’t like to blame the refs, because that’s just part of the game, but last nights’s calls were disproportionately one-sided. The KEY to the game was late in the second quarter, when Lin drove into a wide open late in transition for an easy two. But the refs inexplicably called a foul on Aldrich. In reality, the foul was actually on the OKC player who basically had Aldrich in almost a Full Nelson. Rockets could have tied the game at 52. Instead, OKC hit a three on the other end and that’s when they went on their 16-0 run to end the first half.

      The calls were especially ridiculous, last night. I hate how biased the refs are and their favor of star players or star teams. What I don’t get is why Lin doesn’t get any calls, when Lin is one of the biggest money makers for the NBA. I’m surprised that David Stern is not telling the refs to favor Lin behind closed doors. In last night’s game, Lin got called for a foul when he was defending an OKC player who actually did an upper cut with an elbow to Lin’s face as he went up to shoot the ball. Lin also got called for a foul when he was trying to avoid contact from Westbrook driving to the lane for an easy lay up. Of course, Lin is not the only one on the Rockets who the refs are biased against. Refs are biased against most guys on the Rockets, so I always expect to get calls that don’t go our way in most games.

      Lin also needs to do a better job of drawing fouls, because they’re not giving Lin any calls. I think when Lin drives into the lane, he tries to avoid contact, rather than seek out contact, unlike Harden. Lin should also do more fakes when he’s down low. Get the defender off the ground, then draw the foul, rather than jump up and try to make adjustments in the air, which is what Lin often does and ends up throwing up a wild shot. Parker does a great job of stopping in the lane and then unleashes his arsenal of attacks: ball fakes, pivots, spin around fade away jumpers, two steps to weave through defenders, etc. Lin did this during Linsanity, but still hasn’t done very much of this this season.

      As long as I’m talking about drawing fouls, Harden gets the calls because he does a masterful job of drawing fouls. Harden, with his Euro-Step, moves almost in slow motion, so refs can track his motion and he keeps the ball up high and his arms up high so refs can clearly see contact. Lin is such a good student of the game, I’m hoping Lin notices these things and takes some pointers. I don’t know why players don’t Euro-Step more. Lin says it’s tough to do, because the second step needs to be very explosive, but I don’t see why it’s that tough for an NBA player like Lin to do. He should be able to do it. Euro-Stepping is a great way to move through the lane with control. Lin needs to do a better job of moving through the lane with control, because when he goes in their wildly and is forced to make adjustments in the air he ends up missing the basket badly and the refs just aren’t giving him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it’s happening too fast for them to see what’s happening. I’m not sure.

      • Wow, thanks so much for the detailed response. Regarding unfair foul calls, I wonder why the coaches didn’t protest; the fifth call Harden got in the Spurs game just sounded plain ridiculous. Hopefully someone could write about the refs’ unfair foul calls or uncalled fouls on Lin to David Stern and on sports columns online or in newpapers to call for attention to the issue.

        As for the Euro-step, I hope the coaches notice what you’ve noticed and help Jeremy develop or adjust his moves when attacking the rim. It shouldn’t be that difficult, but it would take a lot of practice to master it so as to produce the desired outcome.

        To be frank, I guess I’m following a young player with elite potential whose fans are doomed to some ups and downs. I wonder if Jeremy is one of the streakiest players ever (some statistical analysis might tell.) If only he could deliver more stable performances, he would be fully recognized, he might not suffer unfair treatment, and his fans would be rid of all those worries. I shall eagerly look forward to the coming of this day.

      • You’re welcome, Ashley.

        Yeah, Lin is pretty inconsistent. I often forget that Lin is still essentially a rookie. So when I do stop to think that he still hasn’t started in the NBA for a full season, I’m quite impressed with what he’s been able to do and the fact that he actually doesn’t make very many rookie mistakes. His inconsistency right now has a lot to do with is struggle with his shooting. If he can figure that out, Lin is going to be a consistent star in the league. I think it’s only a matter of time. Point Guard is the toughest position to play. That’s why even the great Point Guards like Nash and Parker took many many seasons to even be decent Point Guards. I think people, me included, often make this mistake of comparing Lin to the great Point Guards, playing in their prime or close to their prime, rather than comparing Lin to some of these Point Guards when they were in the same stages in their careers as Lin is now. A lot of these guards took a while to even become starters. Lin is already a starter with very little experience (not to mention coming out of a weak college basketball program), so that’s why you’re getting the inconsistency.

    • I’m not sure if the Beverley signing will impact Lin much at all. I don’t know what caliber of a player Beverley is. But if he’s good enough to be a back up point guard, then I suspect what will happen is that they’ve figured out that Douglas is more of a shooting guard than a point guard and they’ll use Douglas to back up Harden and Beverley to back up Lin. The problem with this is that Douglas is too short to be a shooting guard. The problem with Douglas is that he’s the wrong size for his game. He’s built like a Point Guard, but doesn’t have the skills of a Point Guard. He’s just a guy who really loves to score. Sure, he can get some assists every now and then, but he’s not a floor general. He’s not able to see the floor and see the plays developing and figure out how to exploit the defense. He also doesn’t have the instinct to give the ball to the guy with the hot hand or to give the ball to his teammates where they want it at the moment they want it.

      I have to admit, I’m pretty confused by the Beverley signing, if he isn’t a back up caliber Point Guard, because I thought Rockets were planning on grooming Machado. Maybe what will happen is that they’re bringing Machado up from the D-League permanently to back up Lin and filling up the void in the D-League with Beverley. This is the likely scenario if Beverley is not an NBA–back-up caliber player. Just don’t know enough about Beverley, so can’t really say much about the signing and how it will impact Lin.

  3. I recommend you go join the Rockets coaching staff Mr.Philosopher πŸ™‚
    Since day 1 that is my number 1 problem with the Rox, the coaching staff and specifically, the one you pointed…the players playing time.
    The coach don’t basically know how to manage it.
    And I don’t when will it be realized…I hope not that late…

    • Thanks for the videos, MrPingPong! I only caught the first half of the game. Looks like you were there. That was an awesome block by Lin. I wanted to see it again, but they never replayed it during the game So it was awesome that you posted it.

      I just showed my niece, who’s also a big Jeremy Lin fan, the video of Lin’s block and she loved it!

  4. OK, more videos for the Hawks game for y’all!

    First quarter action:

    Second quarter action (General Lin at work…):

    2nd Half warm up:

    3rd quarter action: as you can see from this angle, it is not easy to penetrate the Hawks line of defense, but somehow Lin and Harden found a way to break down the Hawks and make plays…

    Sorry, I was unable to video the fourth quarter… 😦

    • I like that play at 3:20 in the last video where Lin tried to penetrate the lane to no avail, but he didn’t give up. He dropped the ball to Asik for a little give-and-go screen and penetrated the lane again to no avail, but he kept his dribble alive and had patience to find a cutting Morris for an easy basket. Shows a lot of patience to not force things. Patience to wait for the play to develop is an important trait for Point Guards to have.

  5. Pingback: Prediction Update: Rockets Take Care of Business Against Spurs Tonight | Jeremy Lintelligence

  6. Pingback: Rockets, Full of Jeremy Lins, Make Playoffs In Spite of, Not Because of McHale | Jeremy Lintelligence

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