There are plenty of reasons the Houston Rockets picked up an embarrassing and needless loss to the Los Angeles Lakers: Dwight Howard unable to convert shots from the line, Patrick Beverley starting for Jeremy Lin, terrible defense early on in the game, and James Harden not knowing when to stop thinking only about scoring on his own.
Kevin McHale wants Beverley in the lineup to make things easier for James Harden. Instead, he’s simply hurting his team. Jeremy Lin scored 16 points and seems to be a calming influence next to Harden who doesn’t have too many modes to his game – he either drives to the basket without really thinking about anyone else, or worse – taking tough shots with too many hands in his face. He did score 35 points, but on only 9-of-24 from the field with 3-of-9 from beyond the arc.
Lin came on as a sixth man, playing next to either Harden or Beverley. The Rockets’ good minutes happened when Lin was on the floor, and not because of his good defense. He simply makes better decisions than anyone else in the backcourt on offense. The problem is the ball isn’t in his hands as much as it should be. Beverley finishing with 1-of-10 from the field as the Rockets continue to struggle with their outside shooting because of bad ball movement (only 7-of-27 from beyond the arc in this game, 32.7% this season) and wrong priorities.
Chandler Parsons scored 16 points and was at his best when the Rockets finally played some defense early in the fourth quarter, forcing 24 turnovers on the Lakers throughout the game, scoring 26 points off of them. In open court, the Rockets look great, but their half court offense, especially when Harden holds onto the ball for much too long and we don’t see any spacing or movement from players, can often lead to some frustrating results.
Dwight Howard did score 15 points and grab 14 rebounds, but was an awful 5-of-16 from the line. Even though the Rockets didn’t play a very good game and deserved to lose it, those 11 points gone missing eventually cost them the win. It’s impossible to expect him to shoot 80-90% from the line each night, which happens twice or three times a year, but being someone who goes to to shoot free throws more than anyone else in the league, Howard and the Rockets can’t afford to lose 10-11 points each night because of his inability to work this out.
Kevin McHale loves James Harden pulling the strings, but there’s always a point when it’s a bit too much, especially when his defense this season has been especially atrocious and lazy. It’s one thing being a superstar on a team that does have plenty of offensive weapons. It’s another, quite destructive thing to constantly try and show the world you’re the number one guy, and by that ruining it for others, like it happened too many times late last season for Houston.
Jeremy Lin isn’t the best point guard in the NBA, but he’s good enough to help the Rockets look better than they do when Harden just tries to do too much on his own. If Kevin McHale doesn’t see that, the Rockets can expect a bumpier ride than they thought they’d have this season.