The Houston Rockets have a head coach that doesn’t learn. After a rough performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the James Harden-Chandler Parsons duo of selfishness and ball hogging continued to create havoc and ruin another game for the team, while Jeremy Lin got a chance to put up some nice numbers, but as long as Kevin McHale is coaching the team it’s not going to help him get the minutes and role he deserves.
The Rockets lost 111-87 to the Chicago Bulls, falling to the same traps we’ve seen them get devoured by time after time. Harden has these games when all the hype and accolades seem to go to his head. He plays slowly, forgets about passing the ball and actually believes that the way he shoots from time to time in close games can last against great defenses. Jimmy Butler pulled a heck of a number on him, and the Rockets looked absolutely horrible when their starting lineup was on the floor, no defense and certainly not an ounce of thinking or speed on offense.
Patrick Beverley isn’t a great defender as a certain part of the media try to make him seem to be. He puts in more of an effort than Harden, but a lot of players do that. He tries to get into the heads of the guys he’s guarding, sure. There’s nothing wrong with his defense, but trying to make him look like some premier perimeter stopper is simply putting him in a position where he is destined to disappoint and ulitmately fail.
Offense? Beverley takes what’s given to him. He can knock down open shots, but it’s about what Harden decides he’ll hand out to him. And Beverley didn’t get a lot going for him against the Bulls. If Harden struggled with 2-of-7 from the field (8 points) and it didn’t make him move the ball or release it more often, be sure that everyone else in the lineup suffered. Dwight Howard got trapped in the paint too many times, leading to 7 turnovers. Chandler Parsons is another player with ego problems, going 1-of-11 from the field, and Beverley kept missing shots, hitting 0-of-4 from beyond the arc. Terrence Jones struggled (1-of-7 from the field) to make an impact as well.
So Kevin McHale gave his bench players an opportunity to get some numbers. The second unit did a good job early on when the game was still close, but McHale not being a reactionary made it so that their return to the lineup in the very long garbage time sequence didn’t mean much.
Lin finished with 21 points on 7-of-13 from the field in what statistically will be remembered as one of his better games in recent weeks. But what does it matter when the greater goal, both for him and the team, is completely missed? Jeremy Lin deserves more than 24 minutes a game, most of them meaningless, and he has shown more than a dozen times that the Rockets are a better team for it when he gets those kind of minutes.
However, Kevin McHale and whoever else is supporting these rotations has an agenda. This is James Harden’s team, with everyone, including Dwight Howard, is a sidekick. Jeremy Lin? The best and probably only real point guard they have, sacrificed to make Harden look like a superstar he isn’t. With that kind of thinking, abysmal performances against good defensive teams won’t be such a rarity.