No one will complain about the Houston Rockets beating the Phoenix Suns 122-108 with an impressive and dominant display from Dwight Howard in what have been his best game for the team, but continuing to give Jeremy Lin less minutes than he deserves will cost Kevin McHale in the long run.
Howard dominated in front of whatever the Suns threw at him, scoring 34 points on 11-of-17 from the field and 12-of-18 from the line. He also grabbed 14 rebounds and added 2 blocks. He ran the court well in a game that hardly had any defense in it, with the Rockets’ ability to get to the line (James Harden 12-for-12) being the deciding factor while the Suns had to settle for tougher, long-range shots, finding it harder to get into the paint down the stretch.
I’ve just been being patient and letting my teammates find me in the right spot and not rushing my shots. We talk about after I got my man beat, just slow down and make the shot. So I’ve just been trying to do that.
One good thing that the Rockets have been doing better in their last few games (winning the last four) is pushing the ball inside to Howard more than before. A lot depends on which side of the bed James Harden woke up on, but this wasn’t a day in which he forced too many things, getting to the line with ease and giving the ball up when he needed to, usually. Patrick Beverley didn’t have too much of a good game, and it remains a mystery why he continues to get more minutes than Jeremy Lin.
I thought we missed him a couple of times, but we found him better. We just have to keep working on passing the ball to him, being better post feeders.
Lin finished with 11 points on 3-of-6 from the field and 4-of-4 from the line, bringing some influence with a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter to help the Rockets cement their break and win, breaking away from the Suns. However, compared to his previous performances, with and without Harden playing, this was all too quiet and possibly a sign that McHale has learned nothing from the previous games, and is willing to continue using Lin not just as a sixth man (which doesn’t matter if he gets the minutes), but also using him as his third most important guard, which has been proven to being the wrong approach time and time again.
Harden finished with 23 points while Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones each had 19, as the Rockets got most of what they needed from the starting lineup. Phoenix had 23 points from Goran Dragic who was the only one who seemed capable of keeping up with the pace and offense the Rockets brought to the floor. He has now scored 20 points or more in six straight games, the longest such streak of his career. However, without any defense for a second consecutive night, the Suns had no chance of slowing down a Rockets team that didn’t slow down despite the long rest.
We didn’t stop anybody. We didn’t stop anybody last night, either. Our defense has not been very good.