After beating the Boston Celtics, Jeremy Lin spoke about the Houston Rockets dealing with the hack-a-Dwight tactic teams have been using against Dwight Howard and the continuous trade talk that also involves him.
No one likes the hacking tactic; not even teams that use it. But in a league that’s about winning, not playing nice or fair, it’s just too efficient not to use. The Celtics were down by 20, struggling to handle the Rockets’ offense which worked very well most of the time, either by moving the ball well through Lin and others or by pushing it to the paint to Howard, who finished the game with 32 points.
However, in the fourth quarter, as a last-chance kind of resort, the Celtics started fouling Howard. They sent him to the line 14 times in less than four minutes. He hit only six shots (was 10-of-18 in the entire game), and the Celtics got within 7 at one point. Once the two minute mark reached, which meant that off the ball fouls get treated with severity (keeping possession), the Celtics played their brand of defense once again which allowed to Rockets to close out the game.
Lin didn’t go out and say this is a league-wide problem (like Shaquille O’Neal has mentioned a few times), but Lin talked about how it freezes Howard and the Rockets, who are at their best when they’re playing quick basektball. Like it or not, getting them out of their flow and sending down Howard to the line is the best way to stop them, especially for teams that are terrible on the defensive end.
Brad Stevens sounded almost apologetic when asked about fouling Howard to try and get back in the game.
I would probably support a change in the rule that would call it intentional or call it like it would be called int he last two minutes. But because it’s a rule and usually if a guy’s making one out of two, it makes you think twice. To his credit, he made one almost every time up to the foul line. But we were scoring, and so we were getting a plus-one in about 10 or 15 seconds off the clock for the better part of three or four possessions. And then we went dry, and that’s when the two-minute mark hit anyways and we really couldn’t do it anymore.
Lin mentioned that the Rockets recent struggles have something to do with players that they’re missing – Omer Asik and Patrick Beverley, and that there might not be so much trade talk and criticism once they have their full roster available.