I don’t feel like writing much after this game. Basically everything I was hoping would happen tonight didn’t. Every team I wanted to win lost. Actually, after Denver won, I was rooting for Golden State to win, because I wanted Rockets to go against Spurs.
For tonight’s game, I either expected the Rockets to blow out the Lakers or I expected the Lakers to win. So when Lakers kept hanging around, I was concerned. Down the stretch, Rockets still have no plan. And I can tell Harden really wanted to win the game single-handedly so he wouldn’t have to face his former teammates in the first round. Harden jacked up missed three after missed three (4 of 13 from three) as well as pressing and hanging onto the ball for too long. We had no offense in the fourth quarter and especially down the stretch and in overtime. It was one iso after another–nearly all by Harden. Zero ball movement. Harden hangs onto the ball too long and it forces everyone to just stand around and watch, waiting to see what he wants to do, because they don’t want to move around and clog the lane in case he’s looking to drive. Since McHale has no set plays, guys don’t really know where to move to. So that’s why you’re getting the zero ball movement. I also hate how Harden lets the clock run down much lower than he should before making a move. I’ve complained about this since early in the season about Harden. This leaves very little room for error. He did a lot of that tonight and would give the ball to Lin or someone last minute, causing Lin to jack up prayers. Several of Lin’s missed threes were because of this. That’s why Lin went 2 for 7 from three. As opposed to Harden’s missed threes which were shots that Harden willingly took.
I felt this game being lost in the fourth quarter, when McHale went with a small line up that included Delfino going against Gasol. Good thing McHale didn’t stick with that crazy lineup. Then McHale sat Lin for too long and I felt that killed Lin’s momentum. Lin did well in the third quarter (actually he did well in the first half, as well as, distributing the ball), but McHale sat him with 4:24 to play in the third and didn’t bring Lin back again until 6:19 to go in the fourth and by the time Lin got back, I think he lost a lot of his momentum in the third quarter and barely touched the ball. Harden played the entire 3rd quarter, which is common, but why wouldn’t McHale put Lin back in before putting Harden back in? Instead, McHale puts Harden back in with 8:55 to go. Why not put Lin back in before Harden? Of course, McHale doesn’t do this. A little decision like that could have been the difference between winning and losing last night. McHale makes a lot of these little in-game mistakes. Lin was doing a pretty good job, up until the 4th quarter, of running the floor. And I think having Lin sit for so long messed up his rhythm, as well as the rhythm of the team, because Rockets offense looked horrendous from the fourth quarter on.
I couldn’t believe Parsons nailed that three at the end to put the game into overtime on a smart feed from Lin. Rockets should have rewarded Parsons for hitting such a clutch shot. I thought for sure the game was over when guys were scrambling for loose balls. But Parsons comes up with the clutch shot and Rockets just pissed it away by doing one iso after another. It was painful to watch and I was not at all surprised that Rockets ended up losing the game. Parsons hitting that clutch shot should make McHale realize that he has more than just Harden as a clutch player on the team. McHale’s Harden Hero Ball strategy is killing the Rockets in end of game situations. Sometimes it works. But most of the time, it fails. This is why Rockets are not good in end of game situations. It’s an issue that McHale can’t resolve and this is one of the reasons Morey and Les need to seriously look to see if there are any coaches available who can take the Rockets to the next level.
I hate how McHale just seems to throw out the playbook and just give the ball to Harden, hoping that Harden delivers in end of game situations. Why not continue to play Rockets basketball? Instead, the ball just goes to Harden for the last few minutes of the game and that’s McHale’s entire game plan. I’m sort of okay with giving the ball to Harden for the VERY LAST possession, but when you give the ball to Harden with minutes left to go in the game on like every possession, it sends a message to the other Rockets players that they need to stop playing the way they have been playing and just stand around and ball-watch. Anyway, tonight, it cost Rockets the chance to advance in the playoffs and get some much needed playoff experience. Boy, don’t we wish we had that Suns game back!
Oh well, if Rockets do end up beating OKC and then the Knicks for the championship, then I think they need to just end the NBA, because it really doesn’t get any better than that. That is BIG!