Rockets and Blazers are pretty much tied in the standings, so tonight was a much needed win. And Rockets got an easy 15 -point victory. They lead the entire time. That’s a great confidence booster after dropping two heartbreaking overtime games to the Blazers earlier in the season. Games that they should have won. One of the two games, they lost because of Sampson’s big mistake of taking Lin out of the game down the stretch. The other, they lost after Lin essentially won the game with a heroic three-point play, but Harden inexplicably doubled Aldridge down low, leaving a wide open Mathews for a three-pointer that tied the game and brought it to overtime. I still haven’t forgotten both of those games. I was at the one in Portland.
Today had none of the excitement, which is actually great news for Rockets fans. It was good to win the game so easily, showing that the Rockets are clearly the better team and should have won both games earlier in the season. The Rockets are a much different team since those losses to the Blazers. A crisper team with more chemistry and trust in one another.
The guys knew how important tonight’s game was and they played that way. Harden, in particular, was unconscious all night long. Definitely one of his best games of the season. He couldn’t miss and he also managed to dish out 11 assists–just one short of his career high, which he had recently. In the first half he already had 20 points, 8 assists and hadn’t missed a shot. Harden’s really been taking it to another level lately. He’s become quite a play maker. Many people talked about his play making skills before, but I think it’s only recently that he’s really shown he can make plays like a floor general. Tonight, he played the role of the floor general. Before the game, he told the coaches that he wanted to go for a triple double, so he went out there and make an effort to pass the ball. He played phenomenally tonight. Scored 35 points (13 of 16 and 4 of 5 from three point), 11 assists, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 turnovers in 37:47 minutes. He didn’t miss a shot until the third quarter. Lin had a good shooting game. He’s been shooting well, lately. But Lin was relegated to the shooting guard role tonight. He ended up with 16 points (6 of 10 and 2 of 3 from three point), 4 assists, 2 turnovers on only 26:04 minutes. Lin had an efficient game tonight and his shot is looking good these days. Hope that continues. See, when Lin has his shot, he should be able to get 15+ points every night no problem. McHale benched Lin quite a bit tonight, even though Lin did pretty well from the beginning, because I think McHale felt that Beverley was a better defensive match up against Lillard. And I can’t disagree with that. It’s not that Lin did a poor job on Lillard, but I thought Beverley really made Lillard uncomfortable. Lin started the game off well, again tonight. He’s been doing a much better job of being aggressive right at tip off, lately. So that’s great to see. As a Lin fan, of course I’m concerned if McHale is going to take more of the floor general duties away from Lin after tonight’s game, since Harden did such a great job of distributing the ball and Lin is doing a better job of playing off the ball. We’ll see.
Parsons had another solid game with 20 points (8 of 14 4 of 8 from three point), 2 steals. Asik had 13 rebounds/4 blocked shots and Patterson had a great third quarter scoring 12 points in that quarter and was a big factor in helping the Rockets put away the game. He ended with 16 points on 8 of 11 shooting and pulled down 6 boards. 2Pat is definitely playing more aggressively as of late. We’ll see if this continues. So pretty much all things were clicking with the starters in tonight’s game. It’s a great thing to see as the Rockets have a very tough stretch of games ahead against Golden State, Clippers, OKC, Nets, and Wizards (they’re a different team with John Wall back). I think against all odds, Harden will finally get revenge on his former team. This easy win against Portland is critical to boosting the squads confidence as it faces some tough competition ahead. Had we lost the Portland game, it would have been a huge set back psychologically. So I’m really glad they won–especially in the dominant manner in which they won.