Big games deserve huge efforts from everyone; others are less bombastic. James Harden didn’t need to pull out his best tricks to beat a rival the Houston Rockets never have any problem with, while Jeremy Lin was also quite subdued in his effort, which didn’t really get in the way of another win.
After a huge win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the fear of having some sort of sugar-rush drop against the Brooklyn Nets proved to be unwarranted. While Harden didn’t go for a career high like in the previous, revenge game, he still scored 22 points, co-leading the Rockets to a 106-96 away win against a team they have now beaten 13 times in a row, tied for the third-longest streak against a single opponent in franchise history for the Nets.
For the Rockets, it’s the longest win streak vs a single opponent in franchise history, tied with their 13 wins against the Timberwolves from 2007-2009 and their 13 wins against the Sonics/Thunder from 2007 to 2009.
Usually, all the hoot is about the spacing and Harden’s ability to break through any kind of defensive setup he sees. This time, most were raving about the defense the Rockets were playing, usually not their strongest suit, keeping a team on less than 100 points for the first time in eight games.
It was our defense. We started moving the ball and making the easy pass. We were kind of doing too much playing in traffic and they were causing turnovers and getting easy points, so we kind of slowed down in that sense and got a lot of open looks. It was a very good road win for us.
The Rockets did look a bit troubled on offense with the ball, not moving it as quickly and effecitvely as in previous games – Carlos Delfino was in the lineup, now that Marcus Morris and Patrick Patterson are gone. Not feeling too happy about it, as Parsons and Lin have mentioned, didn’t change their attitude on the court, although Lin did finish with only 9 points on a bad shooting night.
The past couple of weeks we’ve shown flashes, in my mind, of being a really, really, good team, whether it was the game against OKC or Golden State, or games like that. Today was an uglier one. We turned the ball over. We didn’t play as well as we normally did. We’re thankful.
Without the newcomers (Thomas Robinson, Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt), the Rockets had to play with just nine players on the roster, and without an actual power forward in the starting lineup. Delfino had no problem playing in the starting role, scoring 22 points with 5 rebounds and 5 assists on a big 6-9 night from him in three point shooting.
The Rockets will probably struggle at times in the paint, without a big presence to help Omer Asik, but that’s been the case for most of the season. With Delfino now getting more of a prominent role, it’s going to be even more about creating shots around the perimeter by Lin and Harden penetrating, but without quick ball movement, the shooting ability of Chandler Parsons and Delfino goes to waste. The Rockets wanted a power forward to make them more than a low-seed out West (8th at the moment), but will settle for the same as before, while waiting for the off-season to make a big free agent signing.