Clippers 137, Rockets 118: That wasn’t very fun

If you missed tonight’s game between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers, enter your kitchen, throw an entire slab of butter in the microwave, and press START. I have no idea what this actually looks like, but I bet it’s something reasonably close to Chris Paul-created-mayhem.

Tonight’s game was artful ruination at the hands of one of basketball’s finest players (perhaps the finest at this very moment). Paul had hesitation moves for days, leaving Jeremy Lin in his wake at least half-a-dozen times, prancing around the court, feeding whoever was open for the most efficient shot attempt on nearly every possession. He had nine assists before you could blink, finishing the game with 17 to go along with a casual 23 points. Paul’s performance was both beautiful and tragic.

Speaking of tragedy: James Harden’s defense tonight. Woof. His on ball work had been getting better over the past two games, but tonight all that progress had a nuclear bomb dropped on it. His man, J.J. Redick, had a field day in the first quarter, scoring 15 points on seven shots. After Kevin McHale called a time-out to replace Harden with Chandler Parsons, his new assignment (Jared Dudley) promptly made two wide open three-pointers.

Low energy has been the popular explanation for Harden’s abysmal defense throughout his Rockets tenure, but this all happened in the first quarter. There is no excuse at the beginning of a game to look like you’ve just run a marathon . It seemed like every other play in that first frame, Harden was either getting caught in a back screen, or hardly giving any effort trying to fight through the few he recognized.

The two fouls Harden picked up in the game’s opening two minutes didn’t help, either. Neither did the three fouls Dwight Howard was whistled for in the first quarter. But that wasn’t as significant a factor as it sounds. The Clippers were picking Houston apart in the early going even with Howard and Omer Asik on the court together.

It was also the first time since the opener where Houston made an effort to get their center the ball in the post, which goes to show just how vital it is for the Rockets to a) get out in transition after making a stop or forcing a turnover and b) having Harden engaged, initiating pick-and-rolls and controlling the tempo.

Right now straight post touches to Howard aren’t an offense worth writing home about, especially when Asik is his frontcourt partner, limiting space and allowing quicker doubles once Howard puts the ball on the floor.

This recap sounds dire, because the game was that. But there were still several bright spots. First and foremost, Omri Casspi. He began the game scoring nine points in what felt like 15 seconds, draining three deep triples to keep Houston in the game. Casspi made plays off the dribble, grabbed a few boards in traffic (he finished with nine), and made Blake Griffin work exceptionally hard on the defensive end. He led the team with 19 points after missing Houston’s last game against the Utah Jazz with a sprained ankle.

Another bright spot: Greg Smith! Remember him? He entered in the first quarter and went 6-6 from the floor for 12 points and seven boards. That was pleasant to see. Everyone else was far from their best, though an exception could be made for Francisco Garcia, who’s slowly becoming one of Houston’s most important players.

Parsons, Lin, and Asik were all non-factors, and Aaron Brooks showed brief promise attacking the basket when Byron Mullens was masquerading as a rim-protector, but that’s about it. Every 82 game regular season is booby-trapped with an occasional buzz saw, and tonight Houston ran into their first. Hopefully they shake it off in time for Portland.

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Total comments: 25
  • Mason Khamvilay says 3 YEARs ago

    Melo has evolved into a decent defender recently

    Ppl say this every year and its only true for a month or two lol

  • timetodienow1234567 says 3 YEARs ago Melo has evolved into a decent defender recently
  • thenit says 3 YEARs ago

    Maybe Reddick is just faster than Harden....

    Love the video just shows what I mean that he doesn't set the tone as a leader. He even claps in a few of hone possession to encourage the team while in the mean time losing his man when he does that.

    The ball watching can be changed but the lack off effort is what bothers me. The man is a stud physically and there aren't many guards who is stronger or faster than him, and many of the possessions they just blast pass him like he is the most unathletic player ever. That annoys me, I can live with less talent but if that player works hard I can respect that, not when you waste your talent like that. I will keep harping on this that we might have another melo great scorer but who don't play d and never get close to a championship as a number 1 option.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 3 YEARs ago

    Maybe Reddick is just faster than Harden....

  • thejohnnygold says 3 YEARs ago

    I'm not sure why we aren't using the pick n roll more. Surely everyone in the organization is aware of its potency. My guess is they are patiently allowing Howard to post-up right now and see what comes of it. Maybe after 15-20 games they might sit him down and show him some efficiency charts. I still think he should post-up some, but there has been a distinct lack of pick n roll. Are opposing teams doing something to shut it down?

    Back to Harden's defense...I found this video from the Clip's game. From these clips it is pretty clear he has a bad habit: ball watching.

  • oyyo says 3 YEARs ago

    I actually don't agree with you saying Lin was a non-factor this game (at least for the first half). He was definitely putting a body on CP3 until getting 4 fouls, which then lead to his playing passive defense in the 2nd half. Plus, I felt that Lin's facilitating skills were excellent this game (evident with 7 assist in the first half and only 1 TO). And he would have a lot more too if people made their shots too. Plus, his stat line was much better than basically everyone else (aside from +/-, but that stat is deceiving), shooting 4/8 from the field and 1/2 from 3s. If anything, I'd say he was one of the few people DOING something on offense. His passes were superb this game.

    What I also disliked about this game was that the offense was stagnant. It was mostly Harden isoball (which failed) or D12 iso-postup (also mostly failed). We need more PnRs!! Give harden more PnRs, and if hes having an off night, give Lin PnRs. I don't understand why we aren't utilizing this more. THe PnRs we had this game (with Lin) ended up very successful, then the next play we run a D12 Iso or harden iso. That just doesn't make sense to me.

  • Opasido says 3 YEARs ago

    Where is the foul on that parsons dunk

  • Mason Khamvilay says 3 YEARs ago

    I know it didn't count, but I didn't care, this dunk from Chandler Parsons got me out of my seat!

  • Buckko says 3 YEARs ago

    No not the season overall but the start. Get a big deficit in the beginning and spend the rest of the game trying to catch up. We cannot play like that.

  • Cooper says 3 YEARs ago

    Anyone feel how similar this is to the texans start of the season?

    Definitely not ready to put them in texans collapse category. Waaayyy too many games left.
  • Buckko says 3 YEARs ago Anyone feel how similar this is to the texans start of the season?
  • miketheodio says 3 YEARs ago

    they did this sort of thing last year. this is also seen in the jazz game too. the rockets lack energy and effort for a quarter or 2. fall behind by big amounts and try to mount a comeback in the second half. doesn't work vs good teams.

  • BrentYen says 3 YEARs ago

    We really missed PB in this game, not that PB can guard CP3 any better (I mean it is CP3 we are talking about), but at least, we have 5 more fouls to use, and PB + Lin line up would do some damage IMO. IDK what happened to Harden, but anyone can have a bad game or two I guess?

  • firearrowman says 3 YEARs ago

    Lin has been rocket coaches favorite reasons for losing the game. Lin is going to be blamed big and lose starting role forever again. I think Lin's agnet should start looking for teams that would valued his ability.

  • Opasido says 3 YEARs ago Tonight they really could've used Patrick Beverly. CP3 was toying us, passing up on wide open shots he would've drained in order to rack up his assists. And he still went off for 23 points. Redick was great, I remember hoping he would go to the rockets in the offseason, looks like we missed out.

    Dwight Howard played terribly. Anybody else think he's not really playing up to his poteintal? He was practically a detriment to the team, getting caught for defensive 3 secs and leaving griffin wide open to knock down 18 footers. The rockets need to get it together quick. Lets hope they do better in a week vs the clippers at home
  • thenit says 3 YEARs ago

    I'm not sure we have anyone in the locker room that would tell Harden to step up.

    Its not just Harden though, any superstar in a team kind of have that leeway. I critize harden a lot because of my high expectations. His D was ostrocious and that whats always bugs me when people rank him as a top 5 player. If you give up equal amount of points due to your D, your net average is zero and if you struggle on the off. side you become a liability. I rather have a Paul George who is slightly worse on Off. but almost elite in D than someone like Melo and ( Harden if he doesn't change his game in the coming seasons). You need to play D to win championships. That didn't happen in the playoffs either. I am harder on Harden than other players because he is our leader and best player so you set the standard for the rest of the team to strive for.

    All the starters struggled, some were better and some were worse, but the bench showed some signs and Smith earned more playing time in the future. Hopefully this is not the norm.

  • Mason Khamvilay says 3 YEARs ago

    Harden needs to do a much better job of fighting around screens, understanding rotations quicker, defensive priorities such as never leaving a hot handed JJ Reddick wide open which really should just be common sense.

  • Cooper says 3 YEARs ago I'm not sure we have anyone in the locker room that would tell Harden to step up.
  • John P says 3 YEARs ago

    Any talk of championship or WCF participant is a joke with Harden playing defense that way. I know he is the maxed out guy or whatever but he needs to be taken to the wood shed by Howard or somebody over this horrible effort. If he was sick...then don't play. Any medicore defense by Harden could have saved us 10 points through the beginning of the 4th quarter, keeping us in the game. I am pretty pissed right now. When we play the Clippers again with harden on the floor who can we put him on who won't punish us? Same with Miami and SA. Whatever anti-D bug he got in him has to change.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 3 YEARs ago I think Lin struggled against CP3 but who doesn't? Our entire team needs to get it together.
  • Buckko says 3 YEARs ago

    I have to agree Lin did his best against the best PG, but this is still CP we are talking about. Casspi was great and even though Parsons made some mistakes he didn't have a bad game nearly on par with harden.

  • myjohnlai says 3 YEARs ago

    You've seen Paul running behind picks and Lin has no way to fight through so many of tem to guard him.On the other end, did you see Lin get any picks and put Paul at work?

    How about Parsons and Harden missing most of their shots? Whenever the Rox goes wrong, the first one to blame is always Lin? That's pathetic.

    Lin has put together a decent game. Look at the stats. He has earned his paycheck. I couldn't say the same for the rest.

  • Johnny Rocket says 3 YEARs ago

    Two missed dunks; two five-second violations; poor free-throw shooting; poor three-point shooting; absolutely no defense from Harden. Man, that was one ugly game.

  • rockets best fan says 3 YEARs ago

    three words for that game...................stink.......stank............stunk :angry:

  • Buckko says 3 YEARs ago

    Didn't I keep telling yall about Greg Smith. He's much more refined than the other young PFs. Also the early bad fouls by the refs just took our stars out of rhythm and it was downhill from there. You can't win games like that where P-Bev is injured and harden becomes an on court liability at both ends. We were down to lin, Garcia and a half crippled AB basically. Anyway I hope Brooks is alright, P-Bev gets healthy, and Harden has a bounce back games against the blazers.

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