With Jeremy Lin out for the next couple of weeks, there were those worried about the return of James Harden, which would mean too much selfish basketball for the Houston Rockets. Instead, they got a very dormant display from the team’s biggest star, while the right kind of style prevailed against the helpless Brooklyn Nets, as Chandler Parsons continued his excellent season with some big help from Omri Casspi, Francisco Garcia and Aaron Brooks coming off the bench.
The Nets were out of the game before the end of the first quarter (33-17, ended 114-95). It might say something about the coaching and the attitude of a ball club when there’s no real belief from anyone past the half time break to get back from 26 point deficit, but that was the situation – Jason Kidd benched everyone except for Brook Lopez, saying that he went with the players he thought would be able to fight for the rest of the way. Things are getting worse and worse for the rookie head coach, who might be losing his loose hold with veterans like Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson.
The Rockets without Lin but with Harden were a threat to be the team from before Harden’s injury. Me-ball kind of team, with Harden holding onto the ball for 15-16 or more seconds, and in the last moment deciding between scoring himself or dishing it out to someone for a desperate shot. Instead, Harden was only 1-of-4 from the field, finishing with 7 assists. The ball moved reasonably well, while the three pointers didn’t stop dropping from all angles and sizes.
Chandler Parsons led the way with 21 points on a perfect 7-of-7 from the field, including six three pointers. Parsons is averaging 17.4 points per game over the last five, hitting 60.9% from beyond the arc. He got plenty of help from the shooters coming off the bench: Omri Casspi (16 points, 3-3 from three), Francisco Garcia (15 points, 5-7 from three) and Aaron Brooks (3-of-5 from three, 14 points). The Rockets shot a combined 19-of-32 from beyond the arc, their highest total of the season.
Kevin McHale once again talked about moving the ball, spreading the floor and shooting from the outside, although it’s always hard to believe what he’s saying with the way the Rockets have been playing most of the time since Harden arrived. If you get ball movement that we want and body movement that we want, we should be able to get open 3s. We are one of the teams that looks for it and shoots a lot of them.
Dwight Howard? Nothing special, as his role was mostly to do some defending before the Nets quit on the game, and grab offensive rebounds off misses, finishing with 12 points and 7 rebounds in only 7 minutes of basketball, getting a chance to rest and give the unhappy Omer Asik, a player the Rockets are openly trying to trade, some minutes to erase the disgruntled marks from his face.
As for the Nets, it’s quite possible that everything has been said. Yes, Deron Williams is still out and Kevin Garnett didn’t even play. But after watching the Lakers being close to a crash & burn wreckage last season by trying to go with big, too old and too expensive names last season, it’s hard to think anyone was thinking straight when they built this colossal disaster during the offseason.