For now, it doesn’t seem like the bruise Jeremy Lin picked up is going to be something that keeps him from playing in the next game for the Houston Rockets. In any case, his absence, and that of James Harden, meant nothing to the surging Rockets, beating the Atlanta Hawks 113-84 with Aaron Brooks and Francisco Garcia picking up the slack with an impressive performance while coming off the bench.
The 29-point win over the Hawks was a demonstration of just how talented this team actually is, and when they do play like a team instead of a roadshow that’s there to cater only one player, it can live up to its reputation of being one of the best in the Western Conference. However, it’s going to take tougher rivals than most of what the Eastern conference can throw at them in order to actually find out how good they really are.
Lin was out after only four minutes of basketball, bruising his right knee. By then, it was already quite easy to see that the Hawks didn’t come to play defense or put up too much of an effort against a Rockets team that moved the ball very well, finishing with 25 assists and too many easy looks from beyond the arc, hitting 14-of-27 from long range, which included four three pointers from Aaron Brooks and three from Garcia.
The two co-led the team with 21 points, while Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones followed with 14 each. Dwight Howard was on the court to provide defense and draw attention. He took only six shots and finished with 10 points, but also added 8 rebounds and 4 assists, showing more than before that he’s willing to be a passing center when the Rockets move the ball the right way and have players actually looking for the ball instead of just looking at James Harden.
We’ve been bashing James Harden quite a bit this season, going back to last year as well. It’s not that he’s a bad player. Harden is averaging 24.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists. We ranked him as the number one shooting guard in the NBA in the preseason rankings. The problem is that with all of his talent, Harden chooses to take on aspect in his game and let it become something that hurts himself and his team, without anyone in the coaching staff stopping him from doing it.
The Rockets move the ball better, defend better and look like a better team over the last few games, with Harden out injured. When he comes back, it will be another test to see just what Kevin McHale made out of his last few games, which were against a few weak teams no doubt, but were also an opportunity to see just how good Houston can be as an offensive team if the ball stops staying in the same pair of hands for 15-16 seconds in each possession.
It’s just the way it is. We are a talented team. A lot of guys are working out and have a lot of energy that are ready to play. We’ve got good chemistry going right now.