Some nights things go easy for the Houston Rockets from the start, but other times it’s a struggle, and a huge uphill battle. With James Harden on his finest form, and Jeremy Lin bringing one of his best games of basketball this season, even a 20 point deficit wasn’t enough to keep them from carrying on with their hunt for a playoff spot.
The first half was so frustrating, we can’t afford to play like that. We can’t get down like that and fight back against many teams.
The Minnesota Timberwolves couldn’t miss a shot in the early goings, taking a 57-39 lead at half time, which was 20 points at its peak. They shot 55% from the field (22 of 40) in the half and scored 20 points off Houston’s 15 first-half turnovers. Needless to say from the end score of 108-100, the Rockets picked up their defense and offense in the second half, because they stopped relying on just making shots.
Maybe it was Kevin McHale’s techincal foul, with the Rockets down by 15 points in the third quarter, that gave them the energy boost they needed. Harden and Lin hit consecutive three pointers, and the Timberwolves, as depleted as an NBA team can be at this stage of this season, simply collapsed as the offensive barrage from the Rockets which is always on the verge of happening start to come true.
I kind of saw where we were all sluggish, especially in that first half. You just have to have that confidence to go out there and make plays and score the basketball, drop a couple passes off and work from there.
The season began with some amazing performances from James Harden, exploding onto the scene from a bench player with the Thunder to a big star for the Rockets. He had one of those games, with 37 points, going 5-10 from beyond the arc and reaching the line 16 times, making 15 of his shots. Jeremy Lin had one of his best games this season, scoring 24 points, adding 8 assists and 4 steals, going over 20 points for the 10th time this season.
This time it wasn’t about the offensive help from Parsons or Motiejunas, who combined for only 18 points on the forward position. It was about energy on defense, something the Rockets haven’t always excelled at this season, and making it a little bit harder for the Timberwolves to hit their jump shots in the second half.
We were relying on our offense so much in the first half that we weren’t making shots. We weren’t playing defense at all. We picked up our intensity and energy a little bit.
With the win, the Rockets are now 7th in the West, but only 0.5 games behind the Warriors (who lost to the Bulls) and 1.5 games ahead of the Lakers, who beat the Pacers. It’s not going to be about Harden and Lin combining for 60 points each night, not if the Rockets continue to slack off early in games, feeling too confident in their shooting ability and home advantage. Despite being the best offensive team in the NBA, defense will determine if Houston stay in the top 8 in the West.