Rockets lost a game they should have won against Denver

For the most part, I felt good about the way Rockets played in terms of how they executed in the half-court and how they defended the paint. Rockets was the better team tonight and even though they ended up losing, I liked the way the Rockets played. So I think they’re back! Rockets stuck to how they played back in December. The things I didn’t like about tonight’s game are the turnovers and missed free throws. Harden, in particular, forced the issue a little too much, committing 6 turnovers and Asik committed 7. Parsons chipped in 4 turnovers.

To me, Rockets lost because of a few unlucky/stupid plays. We had a nice lead going into the fourth after back-to-back steals by Douglas. The momentum was clearly on the Rockets side. Then Douglas committed a very stupid foul against Faried going for a loose ball that he was clearly not going to get after he missed his free throw. That sent Faried to the line. Then immediately after, Parsons, inexplicably was trying to isolate for the last shot of the game at the top of the key. I thought he was going to pass it to Morris for a three, but, instead, Parsons tried to penetrate the lane and just got flustered and turned the ball over, leading to an easy basket by Brewer. Our 7-point lead suddenly shrunk to 3 points in less than 30 seconds. That was a momentum killer. Then the other keys to the loss were two lucky buzzer beaters by Gallinari early in the fourth. The Rockets defended the ball well, but Gallinari just hit two lucky shots. So Rockets lost because of a few unlucky and stupid plays. That’s really what it came down to and that’s how you lose a game even though you played a better game. Sometimes, games just come down to a few stupid and unlucky plays.

So that’s why I feel good about the way the Rockets played. It was a little mind-boggling how Denver still kept it close the entire game, even though the Rockets executed their game plan much better.

Lin had his best game in a while and probably his best ball-handling game ever–even including during the Linsanity period. Lin also played with aggression for the entire game tonight. I think it was a mistake for McHale to sit Lin for too long tonight. Lin was clearly playing very well right from the start. The guy McHale should have sat more was Harden, tonight. Harden was pressing too much, when he should have stuck to making the easy plays. Lin was definitely feeling it tonight. I’m not sure why McHale failed to see that and not play Lin more. Lin ended with only 31:00 minutes, while Harden ended with 41:53 minutes. Even though Lin only had 5 assists, he made all the right plays tonight. He had a lot of missed assists tonight, either because the guy he passed it to missed easy shots or the guy go fouled. So the 5 assists was deceiving. What I loved most about Lin’s play tonight was his ability to keep his dribble alive. Lin ended up with only 1 turnover tonight, even though he played aggressively and constantly penetrated the lane on nearly every possession. Β He also contained Lawson. Lawson got most of his points from the free throw line tonight in “garbage” time. So that’s how he ended up with the 16 points. Lin ended up with 22 points tonight. Almost always, when Lin plays well, the Rockets win. And they should have won tonight, if it weren’t for a few dumb/unlucky plays. Lin also had the first foul call in his favor that he didn’t deserve this season. It was one where he was driving in the lane and cocked his head back for no reason (clarification: he cocked his head back to avoid contact) and stopped short. They called a foul on Gallinari. I’ve never seen Lin get ref call in his favor that he didn’t deserve.

As long as the Rockets continue to play this way, they’ll be just fine. So this loss wasn’t like the one Denver handed them in Houston the last time these two teams met.

Three of our starters ended up with 20+ tonight with Lin leading the way: Lin (22); Harden (21) Parsons (21). Asik had 18 boards.


25 thoughts on “Rockets lost a game they should have won against Denver

  1. It was my concern also as to why JLin did not start the 4th quarter.
    Ahhh McHale when will you ever realized this kind of mistake….
    That free throw shooting missed was kinda contagious and it started with Harden who used to be a good FT shooter during the early season games.
    Anyway, on to the next one.
    Go Rockets!!!

    • Yeah, pretty inexplicable why JLin didn’t start or was taken out so early in the 3rd and left out so long in the fourth. Knowing McHale, he didn’t let Lin start in the fourth, because Douglas had those back-to-back steals. But after that play, Douglas was pretty worthless and Lin had been playing some of his best basketball of the season and I think his best ball-handling game in the NBA. I didn’t see the game until the second quarter, but it was so apparent to me that Lin was feeling it when I started watching. Not sure why McHale didn’t play Lin more. I thought for sure when they called time out early in the fourth, they would put Harden and Lin back in, but instead, they just put Harden in and Harden didn’t do much. I think not playing Lin was one of the big keys to tonight’s loss, because without the floor general, Rockets committed a lot of turnovers that Denver converted to 20+ fast break points.

      Also, Lin got screens consistently in the game. He even got a lot of high screens. As a result, Lawson couldn’t keep in front of Lin the whole night. Lin penetrated the lane whenever he wanted. It’s impossible to stay in front of Lin when he gets screens. I don’t know why the coaching staff doesn’t see this. The Bigs should set screens for Lin consistently. It’s not coincidence that on a night that they did, Lin had one of his best games. If Lin had played like 5 more minutes or something, he could have easily had 30 points tonight and could have easily won the Rockets a game that they clearly deserved to win. I was more frustrated with McHale than I have been in a while–especially in the fourth when he took so long to bring Lin back in after sitting Lin for so long. It made no sense! Almost as bad as when Lin didn’t get to finish the game against Portland in Portland. Yeah, I still remember that. Or the Dallas game when they just sat Lin almost the entire game. Both games ended in losses.

      • No wonder Mr.Philosopher that there is “Fire McHale” or “Trade JLin to Lakers” stuff…
        I really don’t know what’s playing on McHale’s mind but he have to know that there are plenty of eyes watching his every move.
        His been doing the same undesirable decision/s a lot of times.
        Players rotation, knowing when to benched and when to keep them on the floor is definitely a coach’s job.
        I thought he learned something but i guess, I am wrong…still hoping I’m wrong though

      • Yeah, I can understand the frustrations, but I think “Fire McHale” is going too far and “Trade Lin to the Lakers” is completely misguided.

        When you fire a coach, you have to think about who you want to take over. It’s not like another coach is going to be any better. I think McHale is still an inexperienced coach, but he’s got some good qualities. i think overall, he’s an average to slightly above average coach. I just don’t know who else is available who can do a better job. Jerry Sloan would be great, if he’s available. Apart from him, I’m not familiar with other coaches out there. Maybe Stan Van Gundy, but I just don’t know much about him.

        If you’re a follower of my blog since Linsanity days, then you’ll know that I’m not a very big fan of D’Antoni. He’s a fine person, but a way overrated coach. The only thing I like about him as a coach is that he is the only NBA coach who has full trust in Lin, since his entire offense depends on a great point guard to run it. But apart from his eye for good point guards, he’s not a very good coach. I said all this stuff even back during Linsanity, so no need to re-hash it here.

        Other reasons why Lin to the Lakers would be one of the worst things for Lin:

        – Kobe is an awful teammate.
        – Dwightmare is a great PnR player, but has no character and no work ethic.

      • Unfortunately Mr.Philosopher I just got hold of your blog site right after you commented on Ksoranna’s post (Confessions of A Jeremy LIn Addict) is free plugging ok here? πŸ™‚

        Anyway, I believe everything happens for a reason.
        JLin being a Rocket, of course there is reason.
        One thing is certain, I am a FAN!!
        Go Jeremy!!!

  2. I guess Mchale just trusted TD and Harden more than Lin or think as long as they did well, he didn’t need to play Lin. He probably doesn’t recognize Lin’s talents as a PG or thinks it won’t make much difference. The team keeps making a lot of turnovers, but the coach isn’t fixing it by putting the ball more in Lin’s hands–as many fans have suggested–they probably just asked the players to take good care of the ball. However, in this game against a tough team, they got the same scenario: they had more than one PG and way too many turnovers. (So how should they fix the problem? How does a good team limit its turnovers?)

    Well, this is the first and only game so far in the season that Jeremy outscored Harden, right? Despite the loss, I’m really happy over that one tiny point Jeremy got, which made him the highest scorer of the game. However after hitting this link, which I picked up from a Lin fansite, I found that they showed Harden’s 21 points and Asik’s 10 points on the scoreboard, instead of Jeremy’s 22 points. Did they do this on purpose so as to keep LIn out of the spotlight? It’s disturbing.

  3. just one slight correction…

    “It was one where he was driving in the lane and cocked his head back for no reason and stopped short. They called a foul on Gallinari. I’ve never seen Lin get ref call in his favor that he didn’t deserve.”

    If you look again there was a hand thrust into Lin’s face. Lin popped his head back to avoid fingers in his eyes. He avoided the contact so you can say the call was ‘not deserved but considering the hand was clearly jutting for his eyes and NOT the ball I feel it was a karma call in Lin’s favor and not a completely unjustified call in his favor.

    • Thanks for the clarification, wukong. Yeah, I should have been more specific. By “for no reason” i meant he didn’t get hit. But I should have said that he avoided contact by cocking his head back. I’ll make the correction.

  4. Yeah, Rox should have won that game. Lin playing so well in the game makes it all the more frustrating to watch the Rox lose. And yeah, it was “Linexplicable” why Lin was taken out so early in the 3rd and left on the bench for so long in the 4th. Well, it was really all “explicable”, but let’s not go there any more, shall we? πŸ™‚

    I speculate that the quick visit to the Sundance Film Festival was all the “Tony Robbins” Lin needed to get Linspired again. Lin is playing with confidence in these last two outings. He had full control of the floor and the tempo of the game. I remember the Nuggets TV commentators incessantly complimenting Lin, saying something like ‘Lin sets the table for his teammates’.

    Take a look at the following video highlight at around 7:00. After Harden turned over the ball, Lin played some ferocious defense causing Iggy to kick the ball out of bound. As PPat went to retrieve the ball, Lin must have seen an opening on the floor and urgently clapped his hands for PPat to pass the ball quickly to him, but PPat was too slow to react. PPat was not paying attention to Lin. You could see Lin’s unhappy expression of disappointment (7:11). I hope in time, Lin’s teammates will come to believe more and more in Lin and respond to him quickly if not “instinctively”: get the ball to Lin as fast as one can, allowing him the time and freedom to set the table and feed you the opposing team’s lunch.

    Lin is the man, in particular the 4th quarter man. McHale has yet to convince himself of that, so it seems. He only sent out Harden early in the fourth to stem the Nuggets’ tide, but it was not enough. He should have sent out Lin right away because Lin was the one who could control the tempo of the game all along. Anyway, what do I know, right? Sigh….

    • Even Mr. 4th Q could not save the game if he was put back in the game so late. Was KM still experiencing the rotation? Isn’t it half way through of the season already and he was still experiencing? Don’t know what he was thinking? His logic was hard to understand and follow. Or maybe he doesn’t have any??? Sigh…xN

      • It’s all academic now, but for the sake of making conversation, I would like to speculate that reinserting Lin right at the beginning of the 4th would stem the tide and stop the “bleeding”. As the matter of fact, keep Harden on the bench and give Lin the free reign to run the floor with TD. Things should stabilize in short order, in my biased opinion. Once TD has served his useful minutes, put Harden back in and go! Easy ha? πŸ™‚

      • Sometimes just don’t understand why coaches don’t see want fans see. Well, maybe that’s what makes them coaches. How long will it take KM to learn that if ROX wants to win, Lin controls the ball and be the floor general. How many more games does ROX need to lose for him to learn a lesson? “Failure is the mother of success”. People learn from mistakes, but it seems to me that he is way too stubborn.

      • Well, CH, we are Lin fans, and as such, see things certain way. There are a lot more “non-Lin” fans than us, and they see things way differently. Lin just doesn’t meet their “eye test”. It’s a sad story, but in the end it will have a “Linsane” ending, I am sure!

        I am just sitting back and enjoy Linsanity 2.0 as it unfolds. πŸ™‚

      • Good questions, CH!
        1. Yes, I did see Money Ball.
        2. Yes, I do believe in numbers and using appropriate statistical models, one can objectively evaluate the current performance of a player. However using stats to predict a player’s future performance is no sure thing. Morey is said to use stats extensively to evaluate players. The numbers he uses and how he interprets them are his secret sauce.
        Check out this article in case you want to know more about “Morey Ball”:

        3. Though numbers don’t lie, they do not tell the whole story. When it comes to Lin, no numbers can measure his heart, his humility, the joy, the excitement and paradoxically the calmness he brings to the game when the ball is in his hands. Oh well, I am just a Lin fan.

        Have a great game tonight, Lin!

    • Yeah, I saw that (Lin clapping his hands in frustration at 2 Pat). In the fourth quarter, it seemed like Lin was moving in fast motion and no one–not even his teammates–could keep up with him. He had been rearing to get back into the game, since McHale left him out so long. And McHale also subbed him out way too early in the first quarter. Back in December, McHale had a nice rotation going for Lin, but he’s gone away from it and appears to be experimenting again. But I think he’ll go back to the rotation he had back in December. We’ll see. All this being said, rotations do vary depending on the game and the match ups and how a player is doing in that particular game. But McHale’s usage of Lin in the Nuggets game made absolutely no sense. It was mind-boggling, really, and stirs up the conspiracy theorist in me. Takes me to places I really don’t want to go, like the fact that McHale doesn’t respect Lin’s game (which is true) so much that he’s not putting him in positions to succeed so he can get Dragic back next season, since he was a big fan of Dragic and was really unhappy that they let him go. McHale seems to have a blind spot for Lin’s talents. I think he had preconceptions about Lin and is still unable to shake them. So no matter what Lin does, he still sees Lin as some over-hyped guy who they cut from the team. McHale strikes me as the type who really is bothered by things that are hyped. The fact that McHale was unable to see that Lin was really feeling it from the start and was really handling the ball the best I’d ever seen him is testament to how blind McHale is to Lin’s talents. Why would you take a guy like that out so early in the first quarter and then take him out early again in the third quarter and wait so long to put him back in the fourth when you really needed him the most. McHale also fails to see what everyone knows about Lin, which is that he’s Mr. 4th quarter. That’s another testament to his blind spot for Lin. Linsanity was all about the fourth quarter. Anyway, you can tell I’m pretty frustrated about McHale at the moment. We let a game get away that we could have won in a place that’s really tough to win. Nuggets have only lost 3 games in their home court. Rockets were easily in position to hand them a rare home court loss, after coming off a total destruction of another team that’s good at home. A win would have really built this team’s confidence up and if McHale had let Lin play the minutes he deserved, Lin could have easily gotten 30+ points and would have been the hero of the game. And as a result, his teammates would gain more trust in Lin and they would review the tape and realize that in the fourth quarter, the secret to their success was that they let Lin run the offense. And because of that, they would let Lin run the offense more in future games. So there was a lot that could have been gained from a win. But since they lost the game, I’m not sure if McHale’s blind spot will allow him to see that the offense runs very smoothly if they let Lin run it and give Lin screens consistently.

      Yeah, MrPingPong, maybe the visit to Sundance was all the Tony Robbins Lin needed. I also think the fact that the Bigs were giving Lin screens consistently and McHale let Lin have some high screens was a big factor in Lin’s aggressiveness. All year long, Lin rarely gets screens, which makes no sense. If I was Les Alexander, I’d be down McHale’s throat about it. But I think it also has a lot to do with the Bigs not comfortable setting screens. It just doesn’t come naturally to them. But I notice that they are doing it more and more as the season moves along, although they didn’t so it during the January losing streak.

      It’s pretty simple to me how to run this team. McHale runs and offense that is really suitable for Lin, but he just needs to trust Lin to run it. The key is to give Lin screens. When Lin gets screens, he can pretty much do what he did in the Nuggest game on a nightly basis. It’s really tough to stay in front of Lin and when he gets screens it’s impossible to stay in front of him. I’m sure Ty Lawson will agree. Just let Lin run the offense like 75% of the time and our offense will hum. That’s right, MrPingPong, let Lin set the table and all his teammates will be fed.

      I agree, MrPingPong, Rockets could have won if they let Lin back in the game when they brought Harden back. And I also think that in that game, McHale should have brought Lin back instead of Harden, if he wanted to keep TD out there, because of TD’s two back-to-back steals. McHale messed up and cost us the game. Even with all the stupid/unlucky plays, we still could have won if McHale brought Lin out in the beginning of the fourth. I really believe that, because we had got in a real slump, since there was no floor general on the court.

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

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