James Harden

The Houston Rockets continue to win rather easily, this time getting big nights from James Harden and Terrence Jones while beating the Detroit Pistons, and Jeremy Lin continues to be marginalized and reduced into insignificance, which for now doesn’t seem to be harming the team too much.

In the future? That’s a different story, but the fact is that the Rockets are building a team without him being a major part of it. James Harden continues to be the point guard de facto, and although his 12 assists might teach us that he’s out there looking for others all the time, it’s not completely true. The bad shots, the slacking off on defense; they’re all there to see. He just happens to be in full control of the offense, and in pretty good shooting form as well.

Harden had 20 points on 7-of-16 from the field, but was also quite handy early on defensively with 3 steals. The Rockets scored 41 points in the first quarter, and cruised from that moment towards a 118-110 win which seems a lot closer than it actually was thanks to some garbage time weakness from the Rockets.

Terrence Jones had 22 points and 10 rebounds, as the Rockets had no problem beating the sinking ship from Detroit, finding it difficult to handle even the slightest of full court pressure the Rockets used early on, and once again looking abysmal defensively.

Houston shot 50% from the field, and didn’t seem harmed by Jordan Hamilton starting in place of Chandler Parsons, having another good game for his new team, scoring 13 points to go with 4 rebounds. Dwight Howard didn’t control the boards against the Monroe-Drummond partnership, with the Pistons grabbing 20 offensive rebounds in the game, but he was solid offensively, scoring 17 points and adding 8 rebounds while shooting 5-of-7 from the field.

The Rockets didn’t need Howard to win all his battles because of how bad the Pistons looked whenever they didn’t get a second-chance point. Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, the main faces in this failure of a season, combined to shoot 12-of-37 from the field. All the offensive rebounds in the world can’t help a team come back from that one, especially not one as mediocre as the Pistons.

As for Lin? No longer a sixth man; just a bench player, and not very good at that because of the irregular minutes and continued role switching. Since his excellent game in the win over the Wizards, Lin has played over 22 minutes just once, averaging 6.8 points over the last six games. He had only 4 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists in 17 meaningless minutes against the Pistons, as it looks more and more like his previous role of being a significant player for the Rockets is being erased.

Patrick Beverley had a good night this time, scoring 19 points with five 3-pointers, but he can’t be trusted offensively, nor can the rest of the Rockets and especially James Harden when it’s a good defense and serious challenge facing them/him. Not that the Rockets can’t beat any team on a given night. But in a series? With their usual brand of hero ball?

The Detroit Pistons are one of the worst teams in the Eastern conference, so they’re nothing like anything the Rockets will see in the postseason through a best-of-7 series. At some point, they’re going to need an actual point guard to change things up a bit. When that time and need arrives, diminishing Jeremy Lin into something close to a bit-player might come back to haunt them. For now, against the weaker teams in this league, they seem to be doing fine without him.

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