The Houston Rockets can play fast-paced basketball, but they need to do it smartly enough. Jeremy Lin tried to make it a conservative run while other players, like James Harden, attempted to make it a run & gun game, in which the Denver Nuggets have the advantage in almost every position, not to mention depth, size and athleticism, as Wilson Chandler, Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer made people forget about the injured Danilo Gallinari or Ty Lawson.
As Jeremy Lin said – When you play a team like Denver, who runs like we run, it has to be wise. We want to push the pace, but you have to push the pace conservatively, so we don’t give them 20 to 50 points in transition. I think we can push the pace without being so loose with the ball. We’re never going to play a perfect game, but to push the ball up the floor and get to our spots and play without throwing crazy passes, cross-court passes. They have length and taller wings, so we have to be smarter with how we push it.
The Houston Rockets turned the ball over 18 times, allowing the Nuggets to score 32 points off those turnovers. Denver scored 35 points off the fast break and 74 in the paint, notching up an incredible 40 assists on their 54 field goals, while enjoyed their usual dominance on the offensive glass with 13. The Rockets had Jeremy Lin on a good night with 23 points, 8 assists and only one turnover, but he needed someone to help him calm things down. James Harden, with 2-10 from the field and 3 turnovers tried a little too hard to show the Rockets can play the same way.
What did the Nuggets do? Simply trap all the time, and make the game into a track meet. It ended up being a 132-114 win, as the second and third quarter were a complete collapse for Houston who couldn’t keep up after doing something similar to plenty of teams this season. Andre Iguodala is built for these kind of games, finishing with 18 points and 14 assists. Wilson Chandler scored 21 points while Brewer, in excellent form, finished with 22, averaging 19.7 points in April so far.
One good thing for the Rockets? They probably won’t meet Denver in the first round of the NBA playoffs, clearly being outmatched in this clash if this type of basketball is what games develop into. Bad news? They’ll probably have to play the San Antonio Spurs, which they have beaten this season, but will be entering the series as clear underdogs, unless they start playing much smarter basketball all of a sudden.