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The day after, and three days away: Reflecting upon Houston’s complete collapse

It’s 7:07 A.M. right now at the time of writing.  I’ve had a little over six hours now to digest last night’s loss.  I’ve calmed down a bit and am glad I stepped away when I did.  Had I not, I would have certainly written things I’d later regret – things fueled by pure, unadulterated anger.  As I said last night, I was livid.  In fact, I don’t think I can even recall the last time I’ve been so upset during and after a Houston Rockets game.

The unfortunate part is that this should be a time for celebration.  The team will be playing its first playoff game since 2009, and its first playoff game in Red94′s existence.  Instead, all I feel right now is anger: anger over the way the team completely choked at the end, for the second year in a row, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and bumbling away a golden chance to face a hobbled Spurs team against whom some felt they can beat.  Instead, they will now open at Oklahoma City, the expected Western Conference champion.

 Last night’s meltdown started and ended in predictable fashion in the same manner in which we’ve seen far too many losses this season.  The Rockets began the 4th with another one of Kevin McHale’s patented smallball lineups, one that saw journeyman Carlos Delfino guarding the 7-foot Pau Gasol.  Both Jeremy Lin and James Harden sat on the bench–a predicament which by any evaluative measure, either statistical or observational, should absolutely never occur yet for some baffling reason continues to with unacceptable frequency–and things played out as expected.  The Lakers, with the size advantage, gained momentum and then never looked back.  That’s really all it takes in the NBA.  One lineup error for a one-minute stretch and the game turns.  I had written all along, through the first three quarters, that while Houston was leading, one just didn’t feel comfortable.  Things got much worse, though.

The starters were brought back in and what ensued over the next several minutes, spanning from the latter half of the 4th quarter through overtime, was what I described last night, in the moment, as a complete and utter disgrace.  Now let’s take a quick moment to step back for some perspective: the Rockets choking in the clutch is nothing new.  In fact, I wrote about it just the other day.  Their league-leading offense shrinks to one of the worst in basketball in late-game situations.  So this is a problem you saw coming.  Why it became so tough to stomach was because of the stakes and the stage, and a duration which felt like an eternity.

As is pretty much the case anytime the Rockets are involved in a close game in the 4th quarter, the team completely abandoned its pick&roll offense, resorting to the dreaded “hero-ball spread.”  For those who have been living in a cave, (or don’t have CSN), this is a set where, essentially James Harden holds the ball at the top of the key while the other 4 players spread out of the way.  Harden then dribbles the ball for about 20 seconds and chucks up some variation of a contested jumper, whether it be from straightaway ’3′ or of the stepback variety within 2 point range.

The offense completely sputtered, LA capitalized at the other end and maintained the lead.  Chandler Parsons then hit perhaps the flattest 3 point shot in the history of basketball, everyone on Twitter erupted, and the game went to overtime.

The Rockets then started out overtime, in creative fashion, running a few isolation sets for Parsons.  Those of course didn’t end well.  Harden started hogging again, got blocked a few times and the game ended.  See you in Oklahoma on TBD at TBD.

A few thoughts which may or may not end completely off topic: Who is to blame: Harden or McHale?  First, Harden.  Actually, scratch that.  Let’s say the good first:

  • Omer Asik had one of his best games of the season, completely shutting down Dwight Howard in the first half.  Jeff Van Gundy remarked numerous times in the first quarter, “I don’t understand why they’re doubling Howard against Asik.  His (Omer’s) defense is better than Howard’s offense.”  I didn’t understand McHale’s reasoning either.  Of course, the double teams led to numerous open 3′s in the first quarter, shots which enabled the Lakers to stay in the game at that point.  In any event, Asik sealed off the paint and converted numerous other times offensively with violent slams.
  • Chandler Parsons really seems to play his best on national television.

Now, the bad:

  • This was Harden’s worst game of the year.  30 points on 25 shots.  Going vigilante on offense (unless that was the call from the bench; more on this later.)  Bitching at teammates for his own mistakes.  Interestingly, viewing the fan reaction on Twitter and other venues, you can kind of sense the end of the honeymoon for the faithful with Harden.  Now in no means am I implying that he isn’t adored.  Unless J.J Watt were also running, Harden would win any mayoral contest here – he’s basically put the Rockets back on the map and given this city hope it hasn’t had in years.  What I mean though is that, we’ve entered that phase where, after the honeymoon, while you still deeply adore your significant other, you no longer view them as The Second Coming.  You start to see the flaws and realize you’re going to have to cope with them.  That’s becoming the case with Harden.  His abysmal defense has already been extensively documented.  Now it’s the late game hero-call spontaneity and the bitching at teammates.
  • I noted several times last night where Harden, after throwing an errant pass to Asik, which Asik predictably failed to reel in, barked at the Turk on the way back down.  This is something I’ve seen many other times over the course of this season.  I quipped on Twitter that this is quickly becoming an abusive relationship as Asik just turns, puts his head down and meekly runs back to the other side of the court.  The irony here is that for all of the times Asik has covered for Harden on the defensive end, you’d think he’d have boughten him a Rolex by now or something.  Sidenote: A friend and I have a theory that the only way to stop the abuse is to nip it in the bud from the get-go.  Did you ever have that fat friend in childhood who never said anything when everyone picked on him and made fat jokes?  What happens is that after the initial taunts are not met with rebuke, it becomes ingrained in the public gestalt that such ridicule is acceptable.  This then perpetuates the abuse.  Same thing in sports.  You’ll often see that teams are quick to heap blame on one particular whipping boy, even when unjustified, simply because they’ve let it be known that they’ll allow it.
  • McHale: I wrote this summer, in my evaluation of his performance last season, that Kevin McHale deserved a C+.  What was an ‘A’ for his handling of such a young team was brought down to a ‘C’ for his role in one of the greatest meltdowns in franchise history.  That same can be said for this season though not to the same degree as this loss is in no way comparable to a 6 game late season losing streak.  It’s simple, and Jeff Van Gundy has said it himself.  When a team gets blown out, its on the players.  When they lose close games, especially in the exact same manner every time, that’s on the coaching.  Whether ISOball is the call from the bench or Harden is going off cue is a subject for later debate, but there is simply no justification for some of the completely unimaginative plays the Rockets have run out of timeouts.  Throw a wrinkle in here and there.  Instead of 4 guys watching Harden, how about 3 guys watching Harden while one guy bends over to tie his shoes!  I don’t know…do something to vary it up.  There is literally no excuse for the game to end last night, on a critical possession, with Jeremy Lin chucking a desperation 3 pointer after James Harden dribbled away 20 seconds from the shot clock.  None.

Finally, it begs the transcendental debate: is it Harden or McHale?  If we build from the premise–regarding which everyone should be in agreement–that the Rockets’ late-game offensive schemes are completely unacceptable, upon whom should the fault be placed?  There are those who put it on McHale, believing that the total abandonment of the team’s actual offense is by design.  And then there are those put it on Harden, assuming that The Beard is ad libbing off cue against his coach’s instructions.  Either way, there’s going to have to be a solution and you can bet it will be discussed: the superiority of team offense over conventional crunchtime ISOball is almost axiomatic in the stat-geek community.  But what’s the solution?  If McHale is the problem, you just replace him.  But if it’s Harden, there’s hope too: numerous other young superstars, from Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, had to be reined in and made to understand the importance of trusting the scheme and trusting their teammates.  Remember: James is just 23.  This is his first time in the spotlight and he no doubt wants to prove his worth.  I suspect that with age and experience, these warts will change.  But in many cases, at least in Jordan’s and Kobe’s, it took a coach that the star actually respected, for that transformation to occur.  Now, I don’t want to speculate, especially on the eve of the playoffs, but while we all may disagree on the cause of the issue, we can agree it’s a problem that needs to be fixed and probably won’t be addressed until the summer.

Whatever happens, this was fun, and despite the ‘bad’, this was still an unforgettable season and one of the most enjoyable in Rockets history, primarily because of the efforts of the two men upon whom I just cast blame above.  Bring on the Thunder.

 

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Total comments: 107
  • Futureinterest says 1 YEAR ago Thanks for sharing. That info on Rockets plays is money. Very interesting.
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I came across a very insightful post at clutchfans:

    I already brought this up in another thread, but I wanted to follow up on it, as it's appears to be a common misconception that the Rockets draw up/call for a lot of isolations, especially late in games, which just isn't true. At all.

    Aside from the ISO with 0:15 to go in OT the Rockets did not call for an isolation once in the 4th quarter or OT last night.

    A few possessionsended upas isolations due to poor execution, plays getting busted by the Lakers D, the Lakers switching some ball-screens and Harden and Parsons waving off ball-screens once or twice.
    Again, tough, aside from the one isolation out of a timeout with 0:15 to go in OT(that actually resulted in a quick drawn foul), there was not a single called/drawn up isolation.

    One example of what might have look like a designed ISO coming out of timeout, actually was a flare set that the Rockets have had in their playbook since game 1 of the regular season:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yrNmx6H92o4

    Here's the Rockets going to the same set last night:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=06dW5GdbG-k

    Harden obviously didn't feel like he had a great angle to make the cross-court pass, so he decided to hold onto the ball, resulting in the possession to bog down to an ISO.
    Maybe the Harden should have trusted the play & forced the pass or maybe McHale should have drawn up to something different, but most certainly McHale did not draw up an ISO. Not on this possession and not on any other possession in the 4th quarter or OT, aside from 0:15 to go in OT.

    http://bbs.clutchfans.net/showpost.php?p=7858129&postcount=120

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    I'll give you that it's an option, but I would still prefer another big body to go along with that option.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I was happy with what I saw when Terrence Jones guarding DeMarcus Cousins for a few possessions, and other times when he has played center while D-Mo is on the floor with him. I think he's capable of playing 12-18 minutes at the 5 especially if it's against a 2nd unit center. For a rookie he has surprisingly good defensive instincts, and I'm not just talking about his shotblocking ability, he seems to know how to be in the right place at the right time.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    Futureinterest and 2016--I agree with 99% of both sides of this. You lost me at that last line of t-jones at back-up center :o .

    I'm a huge fan of having two legitimate bigs and I think we need one--even if it's just Marcus Camby's still-warm-body--though I would prefer an athletic PF/C hybrid that's about 6'11" with a decent post game....is that asking too much? What's that? D-Mo? I'm starting to feel like his learning curve may be a slow one....which is unfortunate.

    2016, you've got me sold on Millsap. I think he will make our defense better just by not being anyone who currently plays PF for us. His offensive repertoire is impressive and he will certainly make us better on that end. The caveat with him is I think one of Lin, Parsons, T-Jones has to take a big step in order for us to be true contenders....the good news is I think at least one of them will. Plus, assuming his salary is $12M we can go find ourselves that back-up C we need. (I think both the wolves and Nugs have extra bigs that are quite serviceable...plus, has anyone noticed that Cole Aldrich is doing quite well for himself in Sac-town? His PER has doubled and his per36 is 10, 13, with 3 blocks! Apparently Houston's humidity slows him down...)

    It is true that running plays to perfection takes practice and time to get the nuances down....it is also true that these guys have been playing ball for a long time and surely have some measure of what it means to run a set play and how to go about doing it. If I were guessing, I'd say the set plays we are getting are not very complex and once any savvy defense snuffs out the first option there is no plan B besides Harden iso-ball....or a 30' shot from Parsons :) .

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I'm disappointed in Harden too and agree there are ways we could use him better, I think it's obvious that Harden plays better when the floor is spread for him, and his struggles came after an increase of minutes for Greg Smith and Terrence Jones at the 4.

    With all that being said, it's not impossible to create floor space with Smith/Jones at the 4, but it's far too late in the season to startimplementinga new system that would do that. Here's something the Nuggets do to get floor space:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sGiW5qGFjtY

    A looping weave of hand-offs and screens, that's not something you can just teach inexperienced players over night (plus all the ways to vary it up), and in order for something like that to work we can't have an "alpha"--someone stopping the ball and dribbling in the same spot for 10 seconds, the ball needs to move unselfishly from Harden to Lin to Parsons while Asik and Smith/Jones need to keep setting screens and rolling.Basically, we need to play like we didagainstthe Clippers when we didn't have Harden, but we need to do that with Harden. The problem is that Harden is still trying to play like we did when we have a PF who stretches the floor, and that's clearly not working while we don't have that PF on the floor. If we keep our current PFrotation adjustments to our playing style will need to be made, and it will probably take a whole off-season of practice to make them.

    Personally, I would prefer if we just get a guy like Paul Millsap or Kevin Love and go back to playing the way we did with Patterson. We were ranked 4th on Hollinger's rankings, and scoring 140 points felt like a possibility every night. Our only problem was transition defense and a back-up center, two things with very simple solutions:

    1. Stop turning the ball over so often (which will come with experience).

    2. Play Terrence Jones as our back-up center.

  • Futureinterest says 1 YEAR ago

    I don't have a problem with iso at times. It is in fact a good play to run when you have a mismatch or when you want to slow the game down or you just have an amazing 1 on 1 player. It's been part of many winning NBA formulas over the years. It requires the right personnel though to pull it off. We're not one of those teams :). Our best performances come from sharing the ball, creating mismatches with movement and hitting the open man. The problem for us and our coaching staff is that we're also not awful at running iso. Harden can make it work against a lot of teams and when he's on fire, it'll work against anyone... therein lies the problem for us. He's been successful enough with the iso that McHale keeps going to that well over and over when the game is on the line. It'll work against the bottom dwellers in the league, but against the playoff level talent... not effectively. It's like that slot machine that pays out just enough to take all your money...

    So ultimately, one of our issues is that we don't always play to our current strengths and that's mostly on coaching imo.

    2016 I've read a few of our comments in a few places comparing the rocket's tribulations this year to a younger OKC or the Heat 2011. I really do

    appreciate youroptimism, and your handle says it all. I want to believe... but alas...

    I'm over simplifying here, but one of the biggesthindrancesto those two teams was the constant struggle over who the big dog was. This was particularly true with the Heat as they had two of the biggest alphas in the sport. When did that change for them? When Wade finally conceded to LeBron as the primary option for the team andsimultaneouslyLeBron finally embraced the role of point PF during the playoffs last year, they have been world beaters ever since. I think OKC to a lesser degree had that same issue with Westbrick and Durant until Durant made that separation and truly became the man on that team. Once you get yourhierarchy down then you can concentrate on execution of your roles.

    Houston doesn't have that problem. From the first day of the season, Harden has been the top dog. There's been some controversy drummed up about Lin vs Harden, but that's all just in the media to get mouse clicks. When you take one look at the team, and see how the coaching staff has handled it, you can see how Lin and the entire team simply concedes to Harden... there is no doubt that HArden is acknowledged as the man inside the organization. We've hitched our wagons to him and will only go as far as he takes us this year and the next decade potentially. The problem though is that we've done that with a player that has some serious holes in his game and he hasn't really gotten any better as the year has progressed. One could even argue that he's gotten worse from the first day of the season... That's not good... and quite frankly worries me.

    He's obviously the most talented scorer on the team. He's going to help us in a lot of ways, but I just don't think we're utilizing the guy right... I'm starting to think that OKC had it right that you make him the man on the second team and play him at spots on the first team for about 30 minutes a night...

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I think alot of newly assembled young teams have been iso heavy, even the Heat in 2011 and the first half of the 2012 season. Despite not even being that inexperienced it took them a year and a half to start to iron out the stagnant wrinkles before looking like the finely run well oiled machine they are today. The Thunder have been iso even to this day. The Wizards, the Bobcats, the Raptors, and several other inexperienced teams. Is it just a coincidence?

  • sli says 1 YEAR ago

    I think it takes times to teach inexperienced players how to run plays, it's not like he can just say "lets run horns" and everyone will know what he means.

    If you would like to give McHale a pass and chock it up to young players not executing, that's ok. Personally I find it hard to believe that NBA players, even rookies, don't know how to run plays, especially most of them came out of very good college basketball programs. Three timeouts in a row they were scared stiff and couldn't run the play as diagrammed by the Coach?

  • Futureinterest says 1 YEAR ago

    I think Harden has a lot of room for improvement and at this point I'm not a fan of his game. His play seems predicated on getting ticky tack foul calls. If he's not getting those calls then the rest of his game just shuts down. In truth I think the whole "knack" at getting free throws thing is really just a form of offensive flopping. He intentionally just runs into guys and throws up shots or sticks the ball out hoping for a hack. As a fan watching the game, that style of play is annoying and frustrating to watch and always has been. He's only 23 though and hopefully he will learn to dedicate himself to defense and cut back on his poor decision making.

    This last game was especially difficult to watch. Watching Harden make a dumb non-shooting foul on Blake at mid court that led to 2 charity pts was unacceptable. Watching him consistently pound the ball for the entire shot clock and then dump it off at the last second so someone else had to make a wild shot was maddening. Lin seemed to be on the receiving end of that short stick a number of times. It didn't help that his own coach iced him when up to that point he was pretty effective. Watching Harden force bad passes and blame his teammates pissed me off. Asik is offensively limited, everyone knows that, you have to know where he likes the ball and deliver it in that manner. Watching him fail to use picks to iso it up was just plain dumb. P/R and ball movement was straight up abandoned. Watching him drive intentionally into bodies and looking for fouls instead of trying to make the shot is always annoying...

    The most frustrating part of it is that all of these things though should be fixable. Yet you see it time and time again over the year... sometimes as in this last game with the same failed play after failed play. Which makes me think either Harden is not very coachable or the coaches are simply enablers. I loved McHale the player. He was a horrible GM. That is pretty cut and dry. Is he a bad coach? No. Is he a good coach? Maybe. Is he the guy that can get this team to the next level? Doubt it. I've had more "WTH is the coach thinking" moments this year than any other year I can recall. The fact that the team overachieved from initial expectations means he isn't a bad coach though and that he will stick around. The bar was pretty low this year but now it's been raised. Anyways, I'm hoping we don't go 4-0 to the Thunder... but after the way we ended this season... doubt it.

  • dream7 says 1 YEAR ago
    rockets 2012-2013 clutch stats
    last 5 mins, +/- 5 points
    FG 3FG FT TO TS
    Team 40.7% 83-204 35.6% 26-73 83% 93-112 36 56.2%
    Greg Smith 100% 5-5 75% 3-4 1 96.2%
    James Anderson 50% 1-2 1 50%
    Donatas Motiejunas 50% 1-2 50% 1-2 0 75%
    Jeremy Lin 48.5% 16-33 50% 5-10 82.6% 19-23 7 64.9%
    Chandler Parsons 42.9% 12-28 46.7% 7-15 66.7% 8-12 6 58.6%
    James Harden 40.2% 33-82 28% 7-25 85.1% 57-67 14 58.3%
    Omer Asik 31.6% 6-19 100% 2-2 3 35.2%
    Carlos Delfino 29.2% 7-24 100% 4-15 100% 4-4 2 42.7%
    Patrick Beverley 25% 2-8 40% 2-5 2 37.5%
    Francisco Garcia 0% 0-1 0% 0-1 0 0%
    last 4 mins, +/- 5 points
    FG 3FG FT TO TS
    Team 39% 64-164 36.1% 22-61 86.5% 83-96 27 56.5%
    Greg Smith 100% 2-2 75% 3-4 1 93.1%
    Jeremy Lin 57.7% 15-26 62.5% 5-8 84.2% 16-19 6 74.2%
    James Anderson 50% 1-2 1 50%
    Donatas Motiejunas 50% 1-2 50% 1-2 0 75%
    Chandler Parsons 40% 8-20 50% 6-12 75% 6-8 5 59.5%
    James Harden 37.7% 26-69 28.6% 6-21 88.3% 53-60 11 58.2%
    Omer Asik 35.7% 5-14 100% 2-2 2 40.3%
    Carlos Delfino 23.8% 5-21 23.1% 3-13 100% 3-3 0 35.8%
    Patrick Beverley 14.3% 1-7 25% 1-4 1 21.4%
    Francisco Garcia 0% 0-1 0% 0-1 0 0%
    last 3 mins, +/- 5 points
    FG 3FG FT TO TS
    Team 34.6% 44-127 34% 17-50 86.3% 63-73 20 52.8%
    Greg Smith 100% 2-2 66.7% 2-3 0 90.4%
    Jeremy Lin 58.8% 10-17 66.7% 4-6 81.3% 13-16 6 77%
    Donatas Motiejunas 50% 1-2 50% 1-2 0 75%
    James Anderson 50% 1-2 1 50%
    Chandler Parsons 40% 6-15 55.6% 5-9 83.3% 5-6 2 62.4%
    Omer Asik 36.4% 4-11 2 36.4%
    James Harden 29.4% 15-51 25% 4-16 88.9% 40-45 8 52.3%
    Carlos Delfino 23.8% 5-21 23.1% 3-13 100% 3-3 0 35.8%
    Patrick Beverley 0% 0-5 0% 0-3 1 0%
    Francisco Garcia 0% 0-1 0% 0-1 0 0%
    last 2 mins, +/- 5 points
    FG 3FG FT TO TS
    Team 37.1% 36-97 35% 14-40 85.5% 47-55 11 54.9%
    Greg Smith 100% 2-2 100% 2-2 0 104.2%
    Jeremy Lin 70% 7-10 60% 3-5 78.6% 11-14 2 86.6%
    Donatas Motiejunas 50% 1-2 50% 1-2 0 75%
    Omer Asik 50% 3-6 1 50%
    James Anderson 50% 1-2 1 50%
    Chandler Parsons 42.9% 6-14 62.5% 5-8 75% 3-4 1 63.5%
    James Harden 27.5% 11-40 15.4% 2-13 87.9% 29-33 5 48.6%
    Carlos Delfino 31.3% 5-16 33.3% 3-9 100% 2-2 0 44.4%
    Patrick Beverley 0% 0-4 0% 0-2 1 0%
    Francisco Garcia 0% 0-1 0% 0-1 0 0%
    last 1 mins, +/- 5 points
    FG 3FG FT TO TS
    Team 28.9% 13-45 25% 5-20 85.3% 29-34 5 50%
    Donatas Motiejunas 100% 1-1 100% 1-1 0 150%
    Chandler Parsons 50% 2-4 66.7% 2-3 55% 1-2 0 71.7%
    Omer Asik 50% 1-2 1 50%
    James Harden 26.9% 7-26 11.1% 1-9 90% 18-20 2 47.4%
    Jeremy Lin 25% 1-4 33% 1-3 80% 8-10 2 65.5%
    Carlos Delfino 14.3% 1-7 0% 0-3 100% 2-2 0 25.4%
    Francisco Garcia 0% 0-1 0% 0-1 0 0%
    last 30 seconds, +/- 5 points
    FG 3FG FT TO TS
    Team 29.6% 8-27 26.7% 4-15 82.6% 19-23 2 52.5%
    Donatas Motiejunas 100% 1-1 100% 1-1 0 150%
    Chandler Parsons 50% 2-4 66.7% 2-3 55% 1-2 0 71.7%
    James Harden 28.6% 4-14 16.7% 1-6 88.2% 15-17 1 55.9%
    Carlos Delfino 20% 1-5 0% 0-2 100% 2-2 0 34%
    Jeremy Lin 0% 0-2 0% 0-2 50% 1-2 1 17.4%
    Francisco Garcia 0% 0-1 0% 0-1 0 0%
    last 10 seconds, +/- 5 points
    FG 3FG FT TO TS
    Team 44.4% 4-9 50% 3-6 90% 9-10 0 74.6%
    Chandler Parsons 100% 1-1 100% 1-1 0 150%
    Donatas Motiejunas 100% 1-1 100% 1-1 0 150%
    James Harden 33.3% 2-6 33.3% 1-3 90% 9-10 0 67.3%
    Jeremy Lin 0% 0-1 0% 0-1 0 0%
    Random stats
    Player that played 82 games for Rockets this season: Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik
  • RollingWave says 1 YEAR ago

    I'd generally agree with the article, though overall it's a very successful season and the real key is where do they build from here?

    McHale's system usually works... except when it gets close and late, so can he improve on that going forward?

    I have been of the opinion that he has too much of a free pass for Harden to do whatever he wants and a lot of his dubious calls (be it weird lineups or the Harden Iso plays.) stems from that. that needs to change to an extend, I'd really hope Harden isn't Kobe 2.0, because he's unlikely to have the same crazy health and mentality of Kobe. and a lesser Kobe is really not that ideal of a player to build around.

    To be short, the bigger picture is fine. picking into detail there are problems, but there are problems to even the best coach's detail to be honest, I'd be more than willing to see what McHale and the team does next year, if he still shows no serious improvements next year, then I'd be more interested in serious discussion to replace the coach.

    Remember , this is basically a team that didn't even go to training camp together, that they managed to run anything together well at all is already a pretty huge accomplishment.

    On last night, we did contain the Lakers' big alright especially in the first quarter, Gasol started to get to us later on with his passing as our double team just leave their guards too wide open, but in the end they didn't get past 100 in over time, the defense strategy was actually fine, it's really the offensive meltdown in the second half that killed us. Pretty much no one scored well except Parsons, but the most glaring thing was Harden's failed isos and his multiple failed lobs to Asik

    As awhole though, one should note that all this may just go back to Harden's recent health issue, he has played poorly in April in general, shooting under 40% from the floor, barely over 32% from 3 and under 80% from the line. unfortunately a worrying trend is that he also used up more plays WHILE shooting worse. not a good combo.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    2016, I'm confused, he ran the same play three times in a row. McHale ,called a time out and then ran the same play again.

    It's too late in the season to teach so manyinexperiencedplayers how to run complicated plays, maybe McHale just wanted everyone to move the ball around but Harden was stopping the ball. Nobody knows for sure what happens behind the scenes, everyone here is just guessing.

  • rocketswin says 1 YEAR ago

    good article and good points
  • datruth says 1 YEAR ago

    2016, I'm confused, he ran the same play three times in a row. McHale ,called a time out and then ran the same play again.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I think it takes times to teach inexperienced players how to run plays, it's not like he can just say "lets run horns" and everyone will know what he means.

  • datruth says 1 YEAR ago

    In professional sports there will always be changes. No team stays the same in the new age of sports. We made excuses last year for Mchale losing 7 out of his last 9 games last year.Now he hasA new team with better talent, but the same inconsistent Mchale.What makes Mchale special when I see other coachesgetting fired after one year with a team. I see other situation where coaches are being fired after two years.What makes any onethink he will do things different next year? This year I've seen Mchale bench Lin,Parsons, Omer, and everybody else while Harden did what he wanted and when he wanted to do it.The Nba champions of last year added and deleted from their teamthis year. The super bowl champs Baltimore Ravenslost half their defense for next year. This is not the old days where players stay together for 6 and 7 years. I disagree when people say we need more time, we need more time. Nothing is promise.

    Last night I saw our Rockets run the same play three times in a row. We caledl a timeout andthen ran the same play again. The commentators started explaining the play, before the playhappen. Harden going to throw the ball to a big man and the big man is going to give it back to Harden. Same play over and over. Just extremely disappointed right now.

  • Richards says 1 YEAR ago

    which lineup have a better output -

    Bigger - Harden/Garcia/Delfino/Smith/Asik

    or

    Smaller - Bev/Lin/Parsons/TJ/D-Mo

  • Richards says 1 YEAR ago

    McHale is a so so coach and you got the so so results.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago

    Phil's available. He can be assistant GM and head coach. He can get some "experience" under Morey and show the rest of the league that he has what it takes to be a GM and we'll get a top 3 coach all time. Where else is there a better spot? Miami's set. OKC's set, barring an epic collapse. Houston's the best spot for him.

  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago

    morningdew:

    I do not normally write things in English, but I so need an outlet to let go my frustration after last night. Thanks for bearing with me.

    Your English is fine. Thanks for your thoughts and thanks for joining us. Hope you'll stick around.

  • morningdew says 1 YEAR ago

    I agree withrahat wholeheartedly, and I share and experienced the exact emotion last night, after seeing every Rox game of this season.

    I strongly believe the advance matrix (Morey) andalgorithmichave found us a team of smart bball player that can mesh well into a unique type of play that can barely be replicated elsewhere, just like the Spurs. When assessing this team's potential, Ido not think it is a simple math of addition, and i do not think you can solely judge from experience and draft position. Ibelievein synergy anddiscipline in a system,in a team sport, which can do magic. We do not often have lots of muscle and hops, but we can move the ball quick and get easy baskets, outsmarting those with superior strength and quickness.

    The smart basketball that ran NYC (twice), LA (twice), Chi-town,Memphis, Clippers, Hawks, Warrior, Utah out of floors did not involve in a guy dwelling with the ball on top of the key for 20 sec, ended by making desperation shots/passes one after another to waste the possession and kill themomentum.It has been a beautiful flowing system that involves all 5 players, with constant body movement, unselfishly sharing the ball, and finding open man, and finishing the play with ease and grace. It is so satisfying for us fans to see at times that all our starters cheering on the bench with fun and style, and being the happiest basketball team that we have been missed for several seasons in a row.....

    The bad-looking iso mode is the complete opposite of the beautiful and smart brand ofbasketball it is almost disgusting to watch at times, but it keeps hunting the fans back, as the team offense often revert back to iso mode during a tight game, and the clutch time. The stagnant mode do come with varieties though, such as PG bring the ball up, hand pass to your 2nd best scorer, and another hand pass to your iso hero with 20sec left to iso. Or starting with a coach's timeout, and an inbound pass, with your PG screening for your 5, who in turn set a screen to ensure the ball to reach the hand of full-bloomed iso plays. What is sodiscerning is the outcome for the most of iso possession ends up inefficient, but with a team heavily relying on statistics, this is so obviously against any rationalstatisticanalysis. I think even any reasonable rox fan that have seen enough games this season can easily reach to this conclusion: iso ball kills ourmomentum, stops our brand of bball, and does favor to the opponent teams.

    Fatigue, inexperience? those definitely are contributing factors, since we, nor our coaches, can not overcome these overnight. I dreamed of something last night that may help to execute our free-flow offense without deferring to hero-iso-ball. I think we need a trulydemocratic system without any sort of ranking orhierarchy, we do not need some one thinks he is the top dog, and plays with a chip on shoulder, and often looks down atteammates. Of course, team defers to the hot hand, and the favorite matchups, but team do this with respects, unselfishness, sharing, and of course, a supervising power (coach) that is well-respected by all the player to enforce the operation of the system, sort of like JVG, who showed great appreciation of some of our better plays last night, but not sure whether he is the right option or not.

    I wish I can find a way to shout into the head of Morey, or Mac, or Harden: we have a capable team to give out a fight against anyone, but the iso hero ball is killing the nerve of rockets fans. I do not normally write things in English, but I so need an outlet to let go my frustration after last night. Thanks for bearing with me.

    -morningdew

  • Freebird says 1 YEAR ago

    We have an inexperienced coach who has NOT had the time to play with his recruits, to steal an analogy from college ball.

    JG - what about Whoopi? She turned the Knicks around....

  • Cooper says 1 YEAR ago Yeah mchale did a decent enough job to be back next season. Some of his rotations/substitutions weren't great but we aren't that deep either. This is basically the first season all these guys have been toghether and seeing significantly more minutes and it showed in crunch time last night and most other crunch time moments but that can be adjusted. Anther star would be great however unlikely but depth issues can and most likely will be fixed this summer via FA and draft.
  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago

    I'm all for hiring one of the coaches in the "elite tier". NEWSFLASH-- None of those coaches are available. For instance, why would Pop leave the Spurs for the Rockets?

    .

    Exactly. Nobody is saying that we have an elite coach. What we're saying is that we have a good coach, and probably the best coach available.
  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    I've got it. We'll kidnap either Pop or Karl's family, and hold them hostage until they agree to come and coach the Rockets....what could possibly go wrong?

    1318256606334_544114_celticpride_studio_

  • rocketrick says 1 YEAR ago

    There's just such a disparity between Mchale and the elite tier of coaches(pop Phil etc...) that we don't want mediocrity. Is that wrong?

    I'm all for hiring one of the coaches in the "elite tier". NEWSFLASH-- None of those coaches are available. For instance, why would Pop leave the Spurs for the Rockets?
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    1. I don't believe that's entirely true.

    2. Pop or Phil is not going to coach here so forget about it.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago There's just such a disparity between Mchale and the elite tier of coaches(pop Phil etc...) that we don't want mediocrity. Is that wrong?
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Kinda a hard to learn how to play chess when the pieces keep switching movement patterns.

    Good analogy.

    a good coach can make the seesaw lean our way

    Bad analogy.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    You are a smart fan and I am busy but I will give you three Atlanta, the Laker win and the win versus OKC. Like I said you're a smart fan and we both know it all evens out after 82 games.

    I agree to some extent. however a good coach can make the seesaw lean our way

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    Spoelstra has nude photos of Riley, an Riley couldn't fire him. See SVG firing circa 2005.

    funny :lol:

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    He will probably say that those were won by the players but the losses were on McHale. Lol

    you got a crystal ball or something :lol:

  • pharmag says 1 YEAR ago

    Pat Riley didn't fire Spoelstra after his first year, they were patient with him and it paid off. I think McHale deserves the same patience, he works hard and the players all seem to love him.

    This is what I am a proponent of. And I technically view this as his first year coaching. Coaches improve the most and become good when they have consistent players that they can figure out how to best get them to work together. While McHale has coached in four different seasons, Parsons and Greg Smith combine for the most total returning minutes from one season to the next. Kinda a hard to learn how to play chess when the pieces keep switching movement patterns.

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago

    Pat Riley didn't fire Spoelstra after his first year, they were patient with him and it paid off. I think McHale deserves the same patience, he works hard and the players all seem to love him.


    Spoelstra has nude photos of Riley, an Riley couldn't fire him. See SVG firing circa 2005.
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Pat Riley didn't fire Spoelstra after his first year, they were patient with him and it paid off. I think McHale deserves the same patience, he works hard and the players all seem to love him.

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago

    For what it's worth, the Rockets went 7-7 while McHale was gone and Sampson was coaching the team. (Nov. 10 - Dec. 8). Only 2 of those wins were against playoff teams (Lakers and Knicks). Not sure what it says, but I'm sure someone will find something :)


    Sampson is an average coach. McHale is better (this year).
  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago

    For what it's worth, the Rockets went 7-7 while McHale was gone and Sampson was coaching the team. (Nov. 10 - Dec. 8). Only 2 of those wins were against playoff teams (Lakers and Knicks). Not sure what it says, but I'm sure someone will find something :)


    Sampson is an average coach. McHale is better (this year).
  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    For what it's worth, the Rockets went 7-7 while McHale was gone and Sampson was coaching the team. (Nov. 10 - Dec. 8). Only 2 of those wins were against playoff teams (Lakers and Knicks). Not sure what it says, but I'm sure someone will find something :)

  • Futureinterest says 1 YEAR ago

    First of all...
    Hi. You guys have a solid forum.

    I'm a Maryland alum and became a Houston fan back when Francis came to the rockets.

    It's been a very interesting year and I think they have certainly exceeded expectations from the beginning of the year. Considering the expectations from the beginning of the year... the team overachieved. Which would normally equate to the coach doing a good job.

    However, when you look at this roster more carefully you begin to realize that they have a ton of talent. Morey made some great moves this past year that has brought a ton of excitement back to the rockets. So although some think they overchieved this year... based on early year expectations... If you've been watching throughout the year you can see that this team when handled appropriately could play competitively with anyone. It's rare when you watch a game and think to yourself "WTH is that coach thinking??" That has happened more times this year to me when watching Rocket's games than any other year I can remember. That's not a good thing... and yah I can give McHale a pass this year since he's got a team that is inexperienced... and yah his daughter died, which I cannot even fathom... So I'll watch next year as well and support McHale but at this point, I wouldn't mind if they brought another coach.

  • teko says 1 YEAR ago

    Here is Harden's FG% this season. Data taken from: http://espn.go.com/nba/team/stats/_/name/hou/houston-rockets

    ==========
    11  41.2  
    12  46.3  
     1  52.9  
     2  42.9  
     3  38.9  
     4  39.0  
    ==========

    The trend can best be seen in a plot (hope it shows up correctly):

           Harden's FG% 
      60+--+--+--+--+--+--+
        |
      55|        x
        |
      50|     
    %   |     x        
      45|        
        |           x     
      40|  x           x  x
        |  
      35|
        +--+--+--+--+--+--+
       10 11 12  1  2  3  4
                Month

    The most serious concern is: Harden is now consistently low at FG%. In the past two months (before the playoffs!!), he maintained at 39%.

    When I did the same stat last time in late March, I spotted that Harden was following a hard fall consistently, falling from 52% to 42% to 38.9%.

    I asked: How long will it take to get him back up?

    So I was waiting for him to come back. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.

    Since he took a lot of shots, his low FG% means Rox has to waste a lot of shooting chances on him. The more he shoots the less chance Rox will win. It’s a deadly poison for the team.

    This happened again and again and again and again. I spotted this, most Rox fans spotted this. But obviously McHale doesn’t. It seems to me that McHale wants Harden to shoot until his FG% goes back up. It’s amazing to see how McHale kept crashing his heads against the wall so many times without the realization that his head is softer than the wall.
  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    I'm more interested in the games we lost due to coaching....can we get a run down of those, please?

    What about our run of luck earlier in the season when we kept catching teams with injured star players?

    What about losses due to ridiculous last shots that somehow went in?...and the same for wins...

    What about the complaint against McHale's defense when it is widely known that Kelvin Sampson (a popular replacement) is in charge of the defense? (sidenote--I thought our defense (excluding 3 pt. defense...still do not understand this) was exceptional against the lakers).

    Our record is an amalgamation of so many factors. McHale is but one. He and everyone on this staff and team tout the freedom he gives them to "take ownership" of their part of the team. If it's him making bone-head declarations and decisions why has no one voiced anything to the contrary? He wants the players to take ownership of the team--if "his" plays are so bad why are they not pushing for an alternative? It was mentioned earlier, and I am of the same mind, that McHale is letting them learn the hard way.

    And this--for all of us...

    ngbbs510a142b90859.jpg

  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago

    You are a smart fan and I am busy but I will give you three Atlanta, the Laker win and the win versus OKC. Like I said you're a smart fan and we both know it all evens out after 82 games.


    He will probably say that those were won by the players but the losses were on McHale. Lol
  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago

    You are a smart fan and I am busy but I will give you three Atlanta, the Laker win and the win versus OKC. Like I said you're a smart fan and we both know it all evens out after 82 games.

  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago Clippers game for one
  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago

    I could go back and pull 6 to 8 games they should've never won except that they rose to the challenge. This give and take happens in an NBA season, we both know that rockets best fan.


    Yep, especially with such a young team.
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    I could go back and pull 6 to 8 games they should've never won except that they rose to the challenge. This give and take happens in an NBA season, we both know that rockets best fan.

    really? give me couple of examples

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    You mistake "lost on coaching" with "lost on youth and inexperience"

    that's your opinion and I respect that. however I don't agree

    What talent? Talk about our CURRENT talent compared to other teams, not POTENTIAL. There are lottery teams with more CURRENT talent than we have.

    who?

  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago

    I could go back and pull 6 to 8 games they should've never won except that they rose to the challenge. This give and take happens in an NBA season, we both know that rockets best fan.

  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago

    those 2 phoenix games would look good right now in addition to the dallas game. point being I could go back and pull out at least 5-7 games that were lost on coaching


    You mistake "lost on coaching" with "lost on youth and inexperience"
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    those 2 phoenix games would look good right now in addition to the dallas game. point being I could go back and pull out at least 5-7 games that were lost on coaching

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago I agree with nearly everything you said rahat. The only difference is that I don't view it as a complete collapse. It's a partial collapse. It's not as bad as last year since they actually made the playoffs. But this team would have been swept by an average of 20 points against the spurs, IMO. Now, they're playing the reigning OKC. No pressure. They're better off.
  • Richards says 1 YEAR ago

    For this season following three stood out. (I will not point out individual player weakness though)

    - Rotation (very reactive and out-coached most of the time)

    - ISO play (ISO are fine but doing too much when game was tight is no no)

    - Lin usage (got benched whether he was hot or cold)

  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago

    I think you underestimate the talent on this roster

    Fair enough and I would expect nothing less in our debate here but I just don't think there is that much talent that is proven yet on this team as presently constructed. Not to mention you can't just throw players together twice in a season and expect 50 plus wins. I believe the system maximized what is on the roster but in no way could this team have achieved 52 wins. This is not even a 50 win team.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    What talent? Talk about our CURRENT talent compared to other teams, not POTENTIAL. There are lottery teams with more CURRENT talent than we have.

    who?

  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago

    @Rocketrick
    that's the difference in our view. based on the talent we have..... once I had a good look at it...... I'm not surprise to be in the playoffs. what I am surprised at is being 8th


    What talent? Talk about our CURRENT talent compared to other teams, not POTENTIAL. There are lottery teams with more CURRENT talent than we have.
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    This Rockets team a 50 win team, wow!

    (my assessment muis much more realistic: If we are throwing opinions around on coaching than sure with an average
    coach we could have ended up with 40 wins and no playoffs and with a bad coach maybe 30 wins.)

    I think you underestimate the talent on this roster

  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago

    NO....we have a bad coach and got 45 wins. and average could have done 48 and the 6th position....a good coach....52

    This Rockets team a 52 win team, wow!

    (my assessment is much more realistic: If we are throwing opinions around on coaching than sure with an average
    coach we could have ended up with 40 wins and no playoffs and with a bad coach maybe 30 wins.)

  • miketheodio says 1 YEAR ago

    mchale is the coaching equivalent of ppat.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    I will say it again.....you guys can give McHale all the excuses you want to. he gets no free pass in my book

  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago

    NO....we have a bad coach and got 45 wins. and average could have done 48 and the 6th position....a good coach....52


    Oh my goodness, now it's 52 wins? Lol. Your statements are becoming absurd.
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    @Rocketrick

    that's the difference in our view. based on the talent we have..... once I had a good look at it...... I'm not surprise to be in the playoffs. what I am surprised at is being 8th

  • rocketrick says 1 YEAR ago

    NO....we have a bad coach and got 45 wins. and average could have done 48 and the 6th position....a good coach....52

    It's easy to make up things and say things that are unproveable. But you know, some people are glass is half empty folks while others are more optimistic and always consider the same glass as half full.
  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago

    Completely agree rocketrick and I like how you wrote The Forum, I almost did that on an earlier post.

  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago

    how have we moved past that. it never left.

    we could have easily won 5 other games this year with better coaching


    LOL. You honestly think this was a 50 win team??? Gimme a break!
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    If we are throwing opinions around on coaching than sure with an average coach we could have ended up with 40 wins and no playoffs and with a bad coach maybe 30 wins.

    NO....we have a bad coach and got 45 wins. and average could have done 48 and the 6th position....a good coach....52

  • rocketrick says 1 YEAR ago

    others can continue to give McHale all the excuses you want to.......to me bottom line is it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out delfino can't guard pau gasol. that was the dumbest move of the year. McHale was exposed last night and willcontinue to be exposed against OKC.

    The other night you and several others were grousing that McHale wasn't being creative enough in his substitutions; rather he was just reacting to whatever lineups the Suns had on the floor. Then last night, as he has done on numerous occasions for a good part of the season (with mixed results) McHale subs in Delfino as our PF to match up with Gasol. If McHale's gamble had worked out, perhaps the Rockets would be preparing for a matchup against the Spurs. I can't imagine for a minute being in McHale's position looking down his bench for a PF substitution and all he's got are a bunch of rookies and a SG/SF to put in the game. As far as a backup for Asik, well that used to be Greg Smith before McHale was forced to start him as he has been the most effective PF lately. So you can't substitute Smith for Asik when they're both playing simultaneously. And in the 4th quarter of a closely contested game of all places at the Forum in LA, McHale had to choose between the bad choices of Delfino, Motiejunas or Robinson while giving Smith a breather.

    And there are those on this forum who claim the Rockets choked?

    To me that's worse than be forced to watch the hero ball at the end of the games!!

    It's simply a miracle to me the Rockets are even in the playoffs this year. How the hell did we manage to beat out the Mavericks, Utah, Portland amongst others that technically has more talent on their team than ours!
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    rockets best fan you know I think you could be right and really only time will tell but time might prove you wrong as well. All the problems you list are effects from the causes in my opinion, I just cannot believe those things happen in a vacuum. I might be right and only time will tell. You call it blaming but I say it is cause and effect.

    I agree time will bare out the results for some, but my mind is made up. I have seen enough to draw a conclusion.

  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago

    If we are throwing opinions around on coaching than sure with an average coach we could have ended up with 40 wins and no playoffs and with a bad coach maybe 30 wins.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    Wow, we're back to the "McHale doesn't know what he's doing" posts? I though we moved past that???

    how have we moved past that. it never left.

    We need more talent to win more than 45 games, bottom line. We overachieved this year based on current talent.

    we could have easily won 5 other games this year with better coaching

  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago

    rockets best fan you know I think you could be right and really only time will tell but time might prove you wrong as well. All the problems you list are effects from the causes in my opinion, I just cannot believe those things happen in a vacuum. I might be right and only time will tell. You call it blaming but I say it is cause and effect.

  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago We need more talent to win more than 45 games, bottom line. We overachieved this year based on current talent.
  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago

    I disagree (I'm sure you saw that coming as well :lol: ) I don't think I focus on one game more. some of the problems I saw in this game have been going on all year. the fact that it came back to bite us this time doesn't surprise me. I have been talking about McHale's rotations all year.....his inability to take advantage of matchups......his play calling in end of game situations.......his inability to get the team good shots when other teams slow down the game.......his defensive game plan stinks. so it's nothing new. fact is we can blame it on being tired, young, inexperienced or a hold host of other excuses, but it all come back too the fact that McHale doesn't know what he is doing. good thing we didn't need another win to make it into the playoffs or we might be sitting at home.


    Wow, we're back to the "McHale doesn't know what he's doing" posts? I though we moved past that???
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    Sure Rahat, I was extremely disappointed with the Suns game, right before the end of regulation with the Lakers and then after the game but after about 10 minutes after the overtime period ended I put one game into perspective for myself. That was one game that came at the end of the season with perhaps expectations that this team could not live up to though they have exceeded other expectations.

    I generally find that for a couple days after any noteworthy Rockets' event that views seem sort of extreme on the forum.

    I disagree (I'm sure you saw that coming as well :lol:) I don't think I focus on one game more. some of the problems I saw in this game have been going on all year. the fact that it came back to bite us this time doesn't surprise me. I have been talking about McHale's rotations all year.....his inability to take advantage of matchups......his play calling in end of game situations.......his inability to get the team good shots when other teams slow down the game.......his defensive game plan stinks. so it's nothing new. fact is we can blame it on being tired, young, inexperienced or a hold host of other excuses, but it all come back too the fact that McHale doesn't know what he is doing. good thing we didn't need another win to make it into the playoffs or we might be sitting at home.

  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago

    Sure Rahat, I was extremely disappointed with the Suns game, right before the end of regulation with the Lakers and then after the game but after about 10 minutes after the overtime period ended I put one game into perspective for myself. That was one game that came at the end of the season with perhaps expectations that this team could not live up to though they have exceeded other expectations.

    I generally find that for a couple days after any noteworthy Rockets' event that views seem sort of extreme on the forum.


    Beating the Lakers in LA when they have been on a great run would have been an amazing accomplishment, especially trying to match up against two of the best bigs in the league with no PFs to speak of. The fact that we lost in overtime is not at all disappointing to me. We couldn't hit a shot so we lost, bottom line. We didn't "collapse".
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    If you think about it, we have some similarities to the 2010 Heat http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/MIA/2010.html

    • A top 3 sg who averages around 26 and 6 while getting to the line 9 times
    • A 21 year old powerforward who we're probably going to upgrade via FA next year
    • Lots of cap space
    • First round exit where we might win one game if we're lucky
    • Very stagnant offense with predictable pick and rolls
    • Inexperiencedcoach who works hard but hasn't proven anything yet soimpatient fans give him a ton of criticism.

    It's just a shame we probably won't get Lebron James via FA, that's a similarity I would love to share.

  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago

    Sure Rahat, I was extremely disappointed with the Suns game, right before the end of regulation with the Lakers and then after the game but after about 10 minutes after the overtime period ended I put one game into perspective for myself. That was one game that came at the end of the season with perhaps expectations that this team could not live up to though they have exceeded other expectations.

    I generally find that for a couple days after any noteworthy Rockets' event that views seem sort of extreme on the forum.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    im not concerned about winning this round in the playoffs. what i am very concerned about is the way the team plays in close games. it's identical in every scenario like rahat said in the blog post. little to no improvement in that area combined with terrible rotations puts it on mchale. i don't believe that area is going to get a whole lot better,.

    Lets not assume things won't get better. The Heatles played exactly the same way their first year, and two years later their offense has become basketball porn. Rome wasn't built in a day. I expect we will see alot of improvement next season, and if not it's McHale's last year of his contract anyway.

  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago

    I disagree with a lot of the sentiment in here. you can be proud of a team or whomever while also recognizing and being critical of problems. They're not mutually dependent emotions.

    I'm damn proud of this team and what it accomplished this year. I'm damn proud of Harden and also McHale. But I'll write separate blog posts on those topics. At this moment, I'm extremely disappointed in how a precious opportunity was squandered last night, not simplythat it was squandered but the manner in which it happened.

  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago

    Let me frame my points from the first page in another way. The isolation plays and sticky ball at the end of games (this supposedly new Hero ball) does not happen in a vaccum. I believe it is more a symptom of the weaknesses and wounds that ail this team and not some chosen direction. Look at the big picture.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    it's true in crunch time the rockets choke, and it's not just about Harden's iso's. One of the team's strengths is dribble penetration... and in crunch time, nobody does this well. They all get conscious/wary of turning over the ball, especially bc the refs usually let the ticky-tack fouls slide with the game on the line, so the defense is a bit tougher. They don't even pass much for fear of throwing it away... when they do pass, you can see how careful they are in doing it. And the reason for this tentative mindset is the coach has been calling Harden-ball all year... and now nobody feels responsible for creating offense... "just leave it to Harden".

    This is not entirely true. I see McHale calling screens for Harden which Harden doesn't use, he just dribbles in one spot until the screen goes away and sometimes Harden even calls the screen away.

  • miketheodio says 1 YEAR ago

    I agree 2016 Champions, it is amazing how impatient some Rockets fans are. It almost shocks me how many forum members seem to believe we could advance in the playoffs if we had faced the Spurs or the Nuggets.

    im not concerned about winning this round in the playoffs. what i am very concerned about is the way the team plays in close games. it's identical in every scenario like rahat said in the blog post. little to no improvement in that area combined with terrible rotations puts it on mchale. i don't believe that area is going to get a whole lot better,

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    It's really easy to get too excited when you see how good we can be when we play our best basketball, we have had alot of ups and downs and everytime we have our ups you think "I think we turned a corner!". But if we're being realistic here, we're extremely inexperienced and the ups are a reflection of our future rather than our present. Coming into the season I knew this was going to just be an experience building year, and that's exactly what it is. I'm just glad we made the playoffs because that experience will be huge for this team next year.

  • idiotfan says 1 YEAR ago

    it's true in crunch time the rockets choke, and it's not just about Harden's iso's. One of the team's strengths is dribble penetration... and in crunch time, nobody does this well. They all get conscious/wary of turning over the ball, especially bc the refs usually let the ticky-tack fouls slide with the game on the line, so the defense is a bit tougher. They don't even pass much for fear of throwing it away... when they do pass, you can see how careful they are in doing it. And the reason for this tentative mindset is the coach has been calling Harden-ball all year... and now nobody feels responsible for creating offense... "just leave it to Harden".
  • SDrake says 1 YEAR ago

    The two losses to end the season may be good for next season. It highlights the problem with hero-ball. It highlights the problem of expecting Harden to play 40 mpg without a good backup. It highlights the lack of depth for Asik and the limitations of that. And it highlights the inability of McHale to coach close games.

    The playoffs will be a good "taste" for this young team. It will help fuel their desires to come back and work harder next year. It's a good building block for next year.

    They have salary cap room. Most players will be back but they have room to add another piece to the puzzle.

    Harden is still young and inexperienced and not ready to be the dominant player every game like a LeBron James or a Kevin Durant. He can be like them some of the time, but you can't count on it.

    There are 2 things that concern me about Harden:

    (1) Does Harden learn? The biggest problem with the growth of any player is they think they already know everything. The best players have an attitude that they're always learning. Perhaps the trade and him becoming the defacto leader of the team leads to that. But if you look at his performance throughout the season, he was his best in February. He went downhill in March and April. A great player learns and improves.

    (2) Does Harden listen? The re-emphasis of hero-ball at the end of the season suggests either Harden doesn't listen. Early in the season there was a lot of hero-ball. By February, hero-ball was minimized, used enough so other teams still fear it, but not a central part of the offense. But by the end of the season, hero-ball is front and center again. Is this because Harden doesn't listen? I can't believe McHale is calling timeouts late in the game and telling Harden to go play hero-ball.

    Another thing... What is the relationship between McHale and Harden? If Harden is doing his own thing, then it suggests McHale has no control of the team. If Harden is doing what McHale asks, then McHale is part of the problem.
  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago

    I agree 2016 Champions, it is amazing how impatient some Rockets fans are. It almost shocks me how many forum members seem to believe we could advance in the playoffs if we had faced the Spurs or the Nuggets.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    We have alot of work to do in the off-season, I look forward to seeing improvements.

  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago Houston, we have an extremely young and inexperienced team with no PF. This is the bottom line. I agree that we ran out of gas, but we did NOT collapse. And McHale did an exceptional job with this team this season in my opinion.
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    others can continue to give McHale all the excuses you want to.......to me bottom line is it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out delfino can't guard pau gasol. that was the dumbest move of the year. McHale was exposed last night and willcontinue to be exposed against OKC.

  • rzhen says 1 YEAR ago

    Great piece, especially in regards to Asik's defense and the Harden/Asik relationship. Harden must've gone 1 for 6 on lob passes, with the only success being to Chandler Parsons for an alley-oop almost identical to Lin's pass a few minutes prior. Sad the Spurs -> Nugs/Warriors -> OKC route didn't happen for the playoffs, oh what could've been.
  • bob schmidt says 1 YEAR ago

    The loss last evening was more the product of 'playoff style' officiating in my opinion. Gasol and Howard both benefitted from being allowed to play a rougher style game than normally permitted. Frankly, I am just glad that we apparently survived without any significant injuries.

    As to Delfino playing well (someone commented on this), he and Garcia sucked with their play last night. When we were rolling along and at our best, Delfino was deadly with his 3 point shooting. Last night, no points and Garcia managed only one 2 point shot and a pair of free throws. There can be no question that our starters were overused and totally gassed. That was a failure in coaching.

    I hope that the series with OKC will feature more frequent rotations, and with more use of Beverly late in the game. He is so disruptive with his D late in games that he creates offense with it. (sure could have used some of that last night) One coaching move that I hope to see in the playoffs is the designation of a 'bad boy' enforcer, maybe T-Rob, to force the officials to call fouls on the bigs so that they aren't permit the muggings that Gasol and Howard administered in LA. There has to be an antidote that our coaches can come up with to force the officials to call a reasonable game... Otherwise, our season is essentially over.

  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago

    Henry Abbott on this:http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/56895/hero-ball-devoured-the-rockets

  • tombrokeoff says 1 YEAR ago

    growing pains SUCK

  • bboley24 says 1 YEAR ago

    I think KM should spend more time with his family. Coaching just isn't for him.

    Bring on Sampson.

  • idiotfan says 1 YEAR ago

    this loss is exactly what the Rockets needed. Just two games ago they were all high on cloud9, spouting their mouths and saying they are clicking now and being irrationally (over)confident.

    This team performs when they overachieve... when they recognize that they must play their absolute best to win against the playoff teams. When OKC is on cruise control, they are still a dominant team. When the Rockets are on cruise control (you know, feeling comfy with their ability and thinking MAKING the playoffs is a huge accomplishment), they are a .500 team.
  • idiotfan says 1 YEAR ago

    These Rockets are overachievers. First year together. None of the guys have ever started, really. All youngsters. They ARE NOT at the talent level of an OKC or Miami... they are like a Lakers or a Jazz or a Golden State.

    The team lives and dies with the guards. Yet this game they managed to almost win on the road despite bad performances from the guards.

    Can they beat OKC? YES, if they continue to overachieve.
  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago

    "Houston looks like they are running out of gas, especially James Harden."

    -Bill Simmons

  • Freebird says 1 YEAR ago

    I think we all know the Rockets have not been playing their best ball for the past 12 games or so. They are a .500 team since that emotional win over San Antonio. Are they tired? Perhaps. I find it interesting that Delfino and Parsons are playing well since taking a few games off. Perhaps McHale needs to pull a Pop and schedule some time off for everyone to avoid exhaustion.

    That said, I agree with Rahat - this was a collapse. Not a seasonal one, but an in-game one. I felt they controlled the game well into the 3rd, but did not make the effort to put some distance between themselves and the Lakers. When a team hangs around... well, you know.

    The heroball *IS* a problem, and I really hope it's addressed. We have a motion-type offense - stopping the ball cannot happen and have things end wellconsistently. However, while I doubt McHale calls it, I think condoning it is wrong, too. Perhaps he's letting them learn the hard way?

    Also, the squawking is typical when under stress. Especially when the new "star" player is under the additional pressure of trying to force a particular matchup in the postseason. They'll work that out, hopefully.

  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago

    the same problems have existed all year. when the shots go in, the problem gets ignored.

    Of course they have. They are not deep enough to play the style Morey implemented, not experienced enough to grind out the season, no solution at the 4, no back up for Asik, no training camp with the franchise player, no continuity at perhaps the most important position in the system (Patterson's team defense/stretch 4 factor) and too much of an offensive load on Harden that he cannot carry when no one is hitting 3's and Lin is playing poorly.

    I agree these were problems the Rockets had all year and somehow Morey and McHale squeaked out 45 wins and a playoff birth.

  • miketheodio says 1 YEAR ago

    I have to respectfully disagree (you knew I would). This is no where near a collapse, It's a fatigued and inexperienced team that is slumping. Those are the facts that McHale is dealing with right now, not a good hand.

    the same problems have existed all year. when the shots go in, the problem gets ignored.

  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago

    Rahat

    totally agree with your assessment. it was a collapse. not as dramatic as last year, but still a collapse. that's coaching plain and simple. if McHale is truly against hero-ball why has he allowed it to continue all season long. he is the coach......if he wanted to change it do you believe it would still be happening? I too was livid last night. I didn't get on the boards last night because I too needed time to gain perspective. HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM..........our coach stinks.

    I have to respectfully disagree (you knew I would). This is no where near a collapse, It's a fatigued and inexperienced team that is slumping. Those are the facts that McHale is dealing with right now, not a good hand.

  • miketheodio says 1 YEAR ago

    i gave mchale the benefit of the doubt all year. i assumed the team would grow and mchale would learn with the roster changes (he'd come up big where it really mattered). look at their overtime record. look at their record in close games. his rotations completely killed the flow in last nights game.

    if these same patterns exist next year (no half court offense), i wouldn't keep him around the next one.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    Rahat

    totally agree with your assessment. it was a collapse. not as dramatic as last year, but still a collapse. that's coaching plain and simple. if McHale is truly against hero-ball why has he allowed it to continue all season long. he is the coach......if he wanted to change it do you believe it would still be happening? I too was livid last night. I didn't get on the boards last night because I too needed time to gain perspective. HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM..........our coach stinks.

  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago

    I understand your frustration Rahat, you were mad as hell I bet. But I gotta say though this team disappoints often, I knew to expect it and that there would be nights like that because they are just too young to be anymore consistent. I am realistic and the fact is the Rockets have just not been playing good basketball, you can't shoot about 40% from the field and 25% from the three point line in Staples against the surging Lakers (winning 7 of last 8) led by a couple Hall of Famers in Howard and Gasol and expect to win, in fact it's surprising it was as close as it was considering it from that perspective.

    Key rotation players are slumping or not at their best right now. I have documented the drastic increase in minutes for the Rockets' rotation players as well (Lin last year-940/this year-2640, Harden 1946/2985, Asik 971/2464) and it's even not debatable the toll that has taken especially considering the pace at which they play for their scheme to succeed. In the past seven games Harden is shooting 36%FG/68%FT/36%3FG and Lin is shooting 39%/75%/35% and that my fellow forum members is some kind of slump the backcourt is in. Parsons and Delfino have not been 100% and that combined with the fact that we have no backup center and no real resolution to the situation at the 4 with the backcourt slumping and the Rockets are clearly running out of gas and focus.

    They will be better and have more depth next year.


    Great post. I agree with all of this.
  • feelingsupersonic says 1 YEAR ago

    I understand your frustration Rahat, you were mad as hell I bet. But I gotta say though this team disappoints often, I knew to expect it and that there would be nights like that because they are just too young to expect them to be any more consistent. I think I am realistic and the fact is the Rockets have just not been playing good basketball, you can't shoot about 40% from the field and 25% from the three point line in Staples against the surging Lakers (winning 7 of last 8) led by a couple Hall of Famers in Howard and Gasol and expect to win, in fact it's surprising it was as close as it was considering it from that perspective.

    Key rotation players are slumping or not at their best right now. I have documented the drastic increase in minutes for the Rockets' rotation players as well (Lin last year-940/this year-2640, Harden 1946/2985, Asik 971/2464) and it's not even debatable the toll that it has taken especially considering the pace at which they play for their scheme to succeed. In the past seven games Harden is shooting 36%FG/68%FT/36%3FG and Lin is shooting 39%/75%/35% and that my fellow forum members is some kind of slump the backcourt is in (the FT% is telling and may indicate fatigue). Parsons and Delfino have not been 100% and that combined with the fact that we have no backup center and no real resolution to the situation at the 4 with the backcourt slumping and the Rockets are clearly running out of gas and focus.

    They will be better and have more depth next year.

  • pharmag says 1 YEAR ago

    With the isoball, I think there is a little chicken and egg scenario too. I know fatigue is not excuse, but it must be considered. The question then becomes, does hero ball happen because Harden wants it to or does it happen as a byproduct of the team not moving around. I think it is a mix of both. There are plenty of times where Harden calls off screen and just have everyone spread. However, on the bricked Lin 3 where Harden passed it to him at end of shot clock, Smith set a pick on Blake so Lin could drift to corner,where Harden could drive and kick to him for wide open 3. Lin didn't move at all. Now that is not to say that Harden would have driven and kicked, but even if he had, there was no one to kick to. I think Harden deserves the brunt cause he needs to step up and lead, but I think the team enables him to play hero-ball by not moving around. And I think alot of that relates back to the team is just gassed by the end of games, and if you don't have the ball, it is really easy to just stand there.

  • Jason says 1 YEAR ago I respectfully hate the title of your article. I do not see that we had a "complete collapse" at all. I am proud of this team for winning 45 games (despite being projected to win around 30) and making the playoffs. Clearly the team has some growing up to do but to say that we completely collapsed is absurd in my opinion.

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