Atlanta Hawks 83, Houston Rockets 80: A Wasted Night

I hope you didn’t spend your Friday night watching the Rockets lose to the Hawks.  This loss lays heavy on all participants.  The Rockets are third in the league in scoring at almost 106 a game, but tonight they could only muster 80.  With Parsons on the bench and Ronnie Brewer starting and getting 0 points in his 25 minutes, the Rockets could not score.  Please McHale play anyone but Brewer.  You’d think he was in for his defense, but the Hawks got 20 points off the fast break, beating Houston at it’s own game.  Houston only got eight fast points.

After starting with an 11 to 0 run, the Rockets were outscored the rest of the way 83 to 69.  Howard looked ok (7 for 11 from the field and 11 boards) but the wings could not consistently get him the ball on the box.  The last three and a half quarters were really terrible.  The worst part of the game was the end, and it was really bad. With 1:32 to go and down by one, the negativity crystallized. Unbelievably, the Rockets still had a chance to win the game.  Harden went into iso mode and missed a three pointer.  Then Jeremy Lin turned the ball over with a 3 second call trapped in the paint.  The next time down the court Harden takes it to the hole and is blocked by Millsap.  And then, after a time-out, Brooks throws a horrible pass and turns it over.

Howard has to get the ball in these situations.  At least once in those four possessions you’ve got to go to your big man.  We need a passer into the post.  That art seems to be lost on the Rockets.  Howard is fifth in the league in field goal percentage.  I want to see him demand the ball…stand up and instill some leadership on this listing ship.  Harden looked ok for most of the game with 25 points, seven boards and seven assists, but who on this team can will a victory?  Harden is on his own, just like last year, and the defense just collapses on him.

McHale went with a lineup of Harden, Lin, Brooks, Garcia and Howard at the end of the game, and still no one could score.  Garcia was 1 for 7, Casspi 0 for 2, Brewer 0 for 2, and Jones 3 for 10.  McHale threw the kitchen sink on the floor tonight, why not Canaan?  Casspi got only six minutes.  The Rockets held the Hawks to 37% from the field and still could not win.  Like I said, I hope you missed this brick fest.

This was one game where McHale has to take some responsibility.  How is it that the team is so unprepared to give an effort?  The body language is all apathy.  The play after time-outs in crunch time is weak.  McHale tried D Mo for more minutes than Casspi tonight and everytime D Mo made a mistake, the camera would cut to McHale throwing his hands up.  Is McHale grooming D Mo or is he too impatient?  He got five boards in seven minutes tonight.  I agree with Rahat that I would like to see D Mo get more minutes.

Right now the Rockets are going nowhere.  Will Asik help?  I don’t think so.  It’s going to take some serious revisions or upgrades to make this season count.  There is no way this team right now wins a playoff series.  Rockets fans are looking to that February trade deadline and hoping Morey can pull another miracle to save the season.  We’re not looking for draft picks for the future, we’re looking for a player that can help us change our attitude and can lead by example.  A veteran who will get in people’s faces and hold them accountable.  The Rockets have exactly zero mental toughness at this point.  It was hard to watch the product that the management put on the floor tonight. Can we see some grit and heart please?  Can we play some old school Eastern Conference physical ball for once?  Morey, can we look for someone with these qualities in our next acquisitions?

About the author: Eric Nielsen is the owner of Lotushouse Records, an English major from SDSU, a basketball player and life-long passionate Rockets fan. He’s been following the team since the days of Moses Malone, Rudy T. and Calvin Murphy.

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