James Harden

There’s nothing wrong with losing after an 8-game win streak, especially on the road to a good team like the Golden State Warriors. But the Houston Rockets could have extended it a bit further if Jeremy Lin would have been more involved, instead of having forced to stand in the corner and watch James Harden do almost everything, while Patrick Beverley shows once again what an unreliable offensive player he is.

Harden had 39 points on 14-of-27 from the field, including a few nice alley oop assists to Dwight Howard and a shot that could have won the game if it wasn’t for Curry escaping his defenders and scoring a layup that sent the game into overtime, where the Warriors completed their win 102-99. But Kevin McHale once again showed he doesn’t have an offensive plan, simply putting the ball in Harden’s hands and hoping for the best. The Rockets often lose, even if Harden is in something of unstoppable mode.

Patrick Beverlye is known for being a defensive specialist, but his 37 minutes on the floor weren’t very special or stopping. Stephen Curry didn’t explode, but he scored 25 points on 8-of-15 from the field, and got himself or a teammate a good shot almost at will. This came at the cost of having Beverley score only 2 points on 1-of-6 from the field, and once again playing more minutes than Jeremy Lin.

Jeremy Lin

Lin had 34 minutes off the bench with 9 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. The Rockets were better when he was on the floor, especially in a 2-guard setup. The 3-guard setup they went with late in the game didn’t really matter, because Lin and Beverley each stood in once corner, waiting for that rare moment Harden actually finds a shot he doesn’t like.

Kevin McHale? He talked about crispness of the offense. It’s great to use metaphors and allegories to describe a one-play system, which is give Harden the ball at the top of the key and hope for the best, while turning a much better point guard in Lin to a off-guard, waiting for someone to notice him. There’s motion and ball movement when Lin is handling it; not so much when Harden is the “point guard”, and it’s easy to see what works better for this team.

Chandler Parsons was in love with his own shot on the night for some reason, resulting in a horrendous 8-of-24, including 3-of-10 from beyond the arc. Parsons isn’t Harden, Howard or Lin. He can’t create his own shots and while he’s very effective at a lot of things, one of his best qualities was minimizing moments of trying to do too much. It hurts him and the Rockets when he forgets what he really is.

The Rockets have a few days of rest before their next road game in Phoenix, but it might be without James Harden, who will undergo and MRI to check his elbow which was hit late in the game. The Rockets aren’t better without him, but they’re better without certain aspects of his game. As weird as it sounds, the moments of Harden not playing are the best opportunities for Lin to show how good he really is, and to make the Rockets look, offensively at least, look like a better team.

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