The Houston Rockets put on their best offensive performance of the season, beating the Portland Trail Blazers 126-113, as Chandler Parsons had his best game of the year, aided by a strong performance from James Harden and Dwight Howard, while Jeremy Lin got wasted in a sixth man role because of Patrick Beverley returning.
Taking a look at this game specifically, the decision to bring back Beverley into the lineup worked. Beverley scored 17 points but didn’t really impress defensively which is usually his strongest merit (although slightly overrated). It does allow James Harden to hold on more to the ball without Jeremy Lin getting in the way, but this game had a different storyline.
Chandler Parsons came out of nowhere (hasn’t been playing well recently), scoring 31 points, adding 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Dwight Howard helped with 24 points and 12 rebounds while James Harden scored 22 points. One of the big keys was the pace of the game – the Blazers make it a quick one, and the Rockets finally started hitting their three point shots which have been quite inconsistent this season.
The secret about these three pointers? It has a lot to do with dominating in the paint. The team scoring 54 points in the paint and Dwight Howard manhandling Robin Lopez or anyone else putting their hands on him helped Parsons and the rest do some well from beyond the arc, as the Rockets put on their finest 3-point shooting display of the season, hitting 16-of-33 from beyond the arc.
We just held our composure. We couldn’t worry about what they were doing or anything. We had to figure out a way to fight through it and play harder, push the tempo a little harder and play defense. They made a run in the third quarter and instead of us complaining, we got to the bench and we talked about what we needed to do and we got a good win against a very, very good team.
The sting of the loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder despite scoring 73 first half points is still there, but the Rockets are coming back from it. Scoring on their first 11 possessions to build a 25-11 lead helped, hanging on to it every time the Blazers charged back.
Jeremy Lin? The Rockets (which means McHale and Morey) have him where they want him. On the bench, a sixth man, and not in a position to bother James Harden’s dominance in the lineup. First game? It started out well, but this season has showed us that Lin in the lineup is usually better for the Rockets than the other options, and that giving Harden the ball to do whatever he wants doesn’t always end well.
Lin played 25 minutes, scoring 8 points, adding 5 assists. He hit one big 3-pointer to end the third quarter as the Blazers were making another charge back, giving the Rockets a demoralizing 15 point lead at the beginning of the fourth. Having your best point guard playing 25 minutes isn’t the best idea in the world, but in a game in which Parsons does so well and everyone follows suit, no one is going to focus on the possible long term consequences.