There’s been a different “hero” to each of the three wins the Houston Rockets have had to start off the 2013-2014 NBA season. Dwight Howard, this time, had no double double or big contribution, while the dominant trio from last season, led by Chandler Parsons while the backcourt of James Harden and Jeremy Lin had its best game so far.
Chandler Parsons led the scoring with 24 points, followed by Harden with 23 points. However, Jeremy Lin rebounded from his weak second game of the season, getting quite comfortable to starting in the lineup once again, and had a strong finish, scoring 9 points in the final quarter as the Utah Jazz fell apart in the second half, scoring only 37 points en route to their third loss of the season, 93-104.
It was interesting to see the Rockets revert to what they’re used to when the game was on the line. Dwight Howard certainly added a new dimension by being able to plug the paint and pretty much deny the Jazz from making a ferocious fourth quarter comeback in the final minutes, but on offense he wasn’t used much. He scored 15 points, having a decent game from the line for once (7-of-10). He came in for the final five minutes of the game, hitting two shots from the line, finding Lin for a big basket and adding a big block on Gordon Hayward.
James Harden was the same as he’s always been. New names, old names, it doesn’t matter. He just lowers his head and drives to the basket, taking any body he sees along the way with him. A hard foul from Enes Kanter in the third quarter took him out of the game, but Harden just got up and carried on with what he knows how to do, getting to the line 10 times during the game, hitting 7 shots.
Jeremy Lin isn’t trying to force his way into more dominant ball handling. He had his best offensive night of the season, adding 4 assists while shooting 7-of-13 from the field and hitting two three pointers, which suggest that he’s doing better and better as a spot up shooter, something he’s forced to do with Harden on the floor next to him, although Harden did let go a bit of his control after being rattled by Kanter.
Parsons hardly rested (playing 42 minutes) as the Rockets used only three bench players, while Omri Casspi hurt his ankle and was left out of the game. It didn’t stop Parsons from having his best game of the season, scoring 24 points, adding 12 rebounds and 6 assists while hitting two more three-pointers, showing he’s also a major part of the equation for the undefeated Rockets this season.
We got stops and rebounds so we could get out and run. And then a couple guys got hot, and that just becomes contagious. We had momentum, especially there in the third quarter. We came out with our defensive intensity at such a high level that I didn’t want to let anything slow me down. We put ourselves to the test. Being down 16 at halftime, we might have just caved in and gave up last year but this year we fought back. That’s the difference.