The Houston Rockets keep crashing on the wall called the Oklahoma City Thunder, playing the wrong kind of basketball in trying to beat them. Jeremy Lin gets wasted with minimal minutes while James Harden and Chandler Parsons do nothing but try to show the world they can compete with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in scoring, which they can’t.
The Rockets lost for the third consecutive time to the Thunder, this time by only 8 points. Patrick Beverley didn’t come to play basketball – he came to get Russell Westbrook out of his game. Beverley did a relatively good job throughout the first half and especially the first quarter, but he gave nothing in return on the offensive end (2 points) and finished with 5 fouls in 25 minutes. Things looked better when Jeremy Lin was on the floor, but Kevin McHale is either oblivious to that or does deep inside have something against his now backup point guard.
Harden finished with 28 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists, but instead of turning his insane usage ratios to something positive, he often gets caught up in trying to prove that he’s just as good as Durant and Westbrook when it comes to scoring without looking sideways at other options. Harden finished with 9-of-21 from the field, but he’s no Durant, and also found it hard, just like Dwight Howard who keeps getting frustrated and limited by the big bodies the Thunder throw his way, to score in the paint.
Parsons was even worse, and has too many games this season in which he forgets what his strengths and weaknesses are. He finished with 19 points on 6-of-17 from the field, which is way too much for him to shoot, not to mention playing 46 minutes while players like Jordan Hamilton get only nine minutes on the court. McHale is too afraid to change the plan he devised before games on the fly it results in players getting ignored instead of at least trying to learn if they can help out against elite competition.
Lin had 24 minutes of basketball and was one of the few players without a negative in his +/- column. He scored 8 points and added 2 assists. Instead of carrying on his selfish streak from the previous game which worked out quite nicely for him, he was once more the team player he basically is, realizing that it’s probably what his team needs more from him this time. Unfortunately for him, his kind of basketball didn’t seep through to the rest of the players.
The Thunder clog the paint but move out very quickly to the first pass. Harden got his assists that way or via transition, but too many times the ball stayed for too long in his, Parsons and Howard’s hands. Is it that complicated thinking about a few more passes to shift the Thunder’s defense and get players out of position? We saw some of that when Lin was on the floor, but with Harden playing next to him, he was a real point guard for too much of the game.
The Rockets were hot, but once again realized they have a big problem with the Thunder, even if they’re missing improtant defensive pieces. Harden will have better offensive days, and so will Howard and Beverley. But it’s the stubborness and lack of creativity from their head coach, which has to do with Lin being under and misused but more than just that, that will be their early downfall eventually in the playoffs.