The process of turning the Houston Rockets from an exciting team that might challenge for the NBA title to a one-man show based on James Harden, which pretty much ruins the whole concept of adding talent as Dwight Howard and to a different extent Jeremy Lin get completely wasted and misused.
The Houston Rockets can’t win against teams that force them to play in half court sets for most of the game with James Harden and Patrick Beverley as the backcourt duo. Jeremy Lin didn’t have a better game, but it really becomes less and less important how good of a game he does have. He’s reduced to a smaller role, playing less than 30 minutes a night as the coaching staff shows more and more how much they do not trust him to have even a shred of responsibility despite what he’s shown during the times he’s started for the team this season.
The Rockets added a second consecutive loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in as many days, this looking completely awful from start to finish in a 99-81 loss, scoring only 14 first quarter points. Last time a rare shooting night from Chandler Parsons made it seem like it was close, but this time the Grizzlies took care of that scoring option as well, as the Rockets hit only 37% from their field goal attempts and 28.1 from beyond the arc.
The last two games we’ve been terrible offensively. Their pace works for them. They make you play a half-court offense. They are physical. They grab. They reach. They hold. When you do that so much, they are not going to call every single foul. They beat us. Bottom line. They beat us Friday night, and they beat us up again on Saturday. They got offensive rebounds. They moved the ball. They caught us being stagnant, and they were better than us by far.
Having Dwight Howard at center doesn’t matter when the rest of the team is soft on the perimeter. The Grizzlies grabbed 16 offensive rebounds (7 of them by Zach Randolph with 15 points and 17 boards) and scored 52 points in the paint, and simply made it their kind of basketball, in which the Rockets, under the current coaching and basketball scheme, simply can’t succeed against.
Instead of pushing the tempo the Rockets slowed things down – that’s what usually happens with Harden and Beverley running the floor. Harden did avoid putting on an awful shooting show (6-of-13 from the field, 0-of-4 from beyond the arc) while Patrick Beverley was 3-of-11 from the field. Jeremy Lin? Inconsequential: 6 points on 2-of-8 from the field, getting a lot of garbage time in the fourth quarter and not for the first time in the last two weeks. That’s how low his standing with the team has gotten.
The Rockets will win again and probably even put on a scoring show. James Harden is good enough to get 35-point nights even without being part of anything resembling team basketball or a transition game. The problem that keeps hitting this team in the face is that there’s no plan B to go with when that doesn’t work, which happens once every two games more or less. There’s a center to use, shooters to feed, and point guards who can do a better job than Beverley. However, there’s some sort of plan behind all of this for the Houston Rockets; problem is it’s not really working, and probably won’t in the future.