Leading your team in scoring doesn’t mean you aren’t hurting your team. James Harden was awful in overtime and too wasteful for most of the game as the Houston Rockets lost home court advantage with a series opening loss at home, that was almost prevented by Jeremy Lin, who once again wasn’t used enough which didn’t stop him from coming through in overtime, although it wasn’t enough.
A huge game from LaMarcus Aldridge with 46 points and 18 rebounds almost went to waste with a sixth foul in overtime, called for a moving screen on Patrick Beverley. That didn’t stop the Blazers from winning 122-120 in overtime, as James Harden missed a shot from close range that could have sent the game into a second overtime, but that was just a continuation of his bad performance in those five minutes and overall in the game on both ends of the floor.
We didn’t see too much defense from both teams, combining to score 110 points in the paint, but also helped one another put up some big rebounding numbers. The Rockets had 22 offensive rebounds as both Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones finished with double doubles. The Blazers had 17 offensive rebounds, most of them coming from Aldridge, getting some help from Robin Lopez, although the Blazers were actually better when Lopez was on the bench.
Dwight Howard scored 27 points but was only 9-of-17 from the line, missing a crucial free throw in overtime, just like Francisco Garcia, which helped Damian Lillard lead the Blazers, playing without Lopez and Aldridge in the closing minutes for fouls, win the game from the line or simply by blowing by Harden and Beverley with the ball. Harden had 27 points as well but was an atrocious 8-of-28 from the field and 3-of-14 from beyond the arc, doing way more harm than good.
Chandler Parsons scored 24 points as Kevin McHale decided that the best time to start experimenting with lineups happens to be the playoffs. You don’t tell a hall of famer he doesn’t know anything about basketball, but something in his whole reasoning this season and in certain moments of the team’s opening playoff game has to be questioned. The Rockets shot 22.9% from beyond the arc as Parsons and Harden combined to shoot 25 3-pointers, making only six of them.
And what of Jeremy Lin? Not a “noisy” game from him. He finished with 14 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 34 minutes. He wasn’t on the floor at the end of the fourth quarter as both Beverley and Harden showed that their duo doesn’t mean better defense, and his overtime presence with 7 points nearly saved the day for the Rockets, who kept missing shots, free throws and assignments on defense.
There’s time to change this for Houston, but the problem is a head coach that doesn’t change certain aspects of his thinking. James Harden and Parsons are nonpunishable, and can continue making mistakes without it having any consequence on their playing time or their role in the game. Harden has come through for Houston this season in the clutch with his selfish plays, but when it doesn’t work it looks bad. Jeremy Lin has played well time and time again when it matters, but remains dependent on the whims of a head coach who doesn’t appreciate him, which might cost him a series he should win.