James Harden

There’s really no reason the Houston Rockets should be losing at home to the Sacramento Kings. However, when Jeremy Lin gets ignored in the fourth quarter by the tandem of James Harden and Kevin McHale, deciding to win the game with the selfish style of hero ball, there’s no wonder the end result is 110-106 for the visitors, while Dwight Howard tries to understand when will someone start helping him on defense.

Until the fourth quarter, things worked out quite well. The Rockets were leading by four points. James Harden finished the game with 38 points and 10 rebounds. He shot 12-of-26 from the field and was once again quite efficient from the line at 9-of-10. What’s the problem?

The fourth quarter. Lin entered the game a bit too late, and couldn’t help change the bad momentum the Rockets entered. It’s hard when the ball isn’t in your hand. Harden put on quite the devestating show, to his own team that is. How bad was it? Looking at his 1 assist during the game tells something of the story, but it’s better to notice his fourth quarter numbers. He did score 10 points, but on 4-of-12 from the field, turning the ball over four times and pretty much ignoring the rest.

Lin? It was a good game for him until the fourth quarter. He did score four points, but only took three shots. He, like the rest of his teammates, was simply ignored by the usual directive of letting James Harden run amock, as Kevin McHale stands on the sidelines and makes interesting gestures with his face as things don’t go according to plan.

Dwight Howard on defensive woes: “Not going to talk about it anymore. Guys have to do their part on defense. It starts on the perimeter.”

— ClutchFans (@clutchfans) January 1, 2014

Jeremy Lin

It was interesting to see Howard finally start showing his disappointment with the way this team is defending. Sure, it has to do with effort, but there’s something about a head coach getting players to respond to his defensive schemes (if there are any) and orders. The Kings hit 49.4% from the field, which is no surprise. The Rockets are in the bottom half of the league in both opponents shooting percentage (48.9%) and their defensive efficiency, allowing 102.5 points per 100 possessions. An athletic team with a premier defensive center should be harder to score against.

Rudy Gay led the Kings with 25 points, followed by a big night from DeMarcus Cousins scoring 17 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, adding an impressive four steals. The ball movement became quite predictable from the Rockets in the final quarter, as Harden once again tried to slice his way through against an expecting team, without having any intention of dishing it out to open players. Lin finished the game scoring 14 points on 7-of-10 from the field.

Maybe McHale remembered how well Harden shot against the Spurs in the recent win in San Antonio during a great fourth quarter from him. However, the warning was on the wall. Those points didn’t come from basketball, but simply Harden doing things on his own and getting away with it. There are players like Dwight Howard and Jeremy Lin on this team for a reason, but it seems Harden likes to forget that, and McHale allows him to.

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