Houston Rockets 100, Charlotte Bobcats 89 – Practicing for the main event

The Charlotte Bobcats are one of the teams in the league with the most left to play for – to give their first visit to the playoffs in four years a chance of going well, they need to avoid the Pacers and the Heat in the first round and are pushing hard to catch up with Washington for the sixth seed. Earlier in the season such an opponent might have been a cause for concern, but the battle-hardening rigour of the NBA season has given the Rockets the necessary familiarity with winning to keep control of the game and come up with the comfortable win. They were put through their paces in a game that was never truly blown open, but they had their noses in front most of the way through and eventually opened up a gap at the end of the third quarter that they would not relinquish.

  • This game felt in some ways like a good tune up for the playoffs. Perhaps not the same calibre of opponent as the Rockets will see come May, but a team that was well organised defensively and had obviously done a little bit of homework. On the first play of the game the Rockets tried to run one of their favourite sets – Harden posting up and then curling around a screen at the elbow from Howard. But unlike a lot of teams this year the Bobcats were ready and able to snuff it out. We’ll doubtless see a lot more of that sort of thing in the seven game series to come.
  • Parsons really struggled tonight, missing his first six shots. He hasn’t been playing well for a while but it has been less important in past games because Beverley has been making his shots out of the gate. In the starting lineup, one of Beverley or Parsons has to be making their three point shots for the team to really click. Harden and Howard can do a lot individually and Jones will do his standard garbage man job, but having those shooters hitting really makes the difference between a hot start and a mediocre one. Hopefully Parsons can figure out what’s ailing him and break out of his slump soon – he showed signs of it towards the end of the game when he hit two (VERY flat) threes to help keep the game out of the Bobcats’ reach.
  • I was glad to see Howard back in the lineup tonight. There might have been a temptation to leave him out one more game – what’s the harm, right? But putting him back in meant that the two front-court tandems could get extended minutes working together. Both the Jones/Howard and Motiejunas/Asik pairings had some nice high-low passing moments tonight – perhaps a recent point of emphasis in training? Jones and Howard have been doing it for a while, but I was surprised and pleased to see Asik dropping the ball off to Motiejunas under the basket as well. The rotations were such that they were pretty much playing as pairs, perhaps with an eye towards formalising the playoff rotation. I like this strategy and hopefully it will bear fruit down the road.
  • Late in the game we saw a few iso-ball possessions from Harden that worried me a little. The Bobcats were doing everything they could to keep the ball out of Harden’s hands until late in the shot clock, and it seemed to break up the plays the Rockets were trying to run. Parsons would hold the ball for a while trying to get it James, and then James would look up at the shot-clock and decide it wasn’t worth running a play. I would have liked to have seen a bit more off ball movement as a backup plan to give them a chance at an open shot. On this instance Harden made his isolation plays, but on another day the step-backs with a hand in his face may not be falling – we’ve seen it plenty of times in the past.
  • Watching Big Al work in the post really is a treat. He’s been getting rave reviews ever since the All-Star break and it’s not hard to see why – there was a palpable sense of excitement from the Charlotte crowd whenever he caught the ball on the block, and more often than not that was justified. He palms the ball in one enormous hand before beginning his move, a starting position that he has made his own. And while his bag of tricks may not have all the balletic flair of a prime Luis Scola, there’s a cunning and guile there that you can’t help but appreciate as he somehow sneaks his way under his defender’s arms yet again for a layup. Howard and Asik did a pretty decent job on him all things considered, but on balance he won the match-up pretty comfortably, posting 22 points (on 17 shots) and 11 boards and getting Howard in foul trouble.

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Total comments: 37
  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    @JG BTW, how did you get the image? screen capture?

    yes, I usually screen cap and then upload to imgur.com. It's quick and easy. :)

  • BrentYen says 5 months ago

    @JG BTW, how did you get the image? screen capture?

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    @JG

    do they have any way to see what teams he shot poorly against and what teams he shot above average against? I would venture to say I bet he had his worse games against contending teams. the chart work is off the chain JG thanks for posting it. Remember when you and I discussed Lin at the end of last year and I told you I thought he had peaked? his production this year would seem to indicate I was right. I didn't come to that conclusion lightly. I watched him very closely last year and by the end of the year thought I had seen enough to make a judgment call. I'm no talent scout, but I am rarely wrong about players I study like I did Lin last year. his game has to many holes. we keep talking about him like all he needs to do is get more consistent, however isn't that the factor that separates the good from the mediocre?

    I would say that ability separates the mediocre from the good and consistency separates the good from the great. Lin has enough ability. My guess is he is assimilating a lot of knowledge and is thinking too much. I think the holes will get filled eventually, but it may be 2-3 years away before it really clicks for him.

    As far as seeing which opponent is which....the chart is chronological so just put the season schedule next to it and you will be able to see who was who. Off the top of my head, he has had mixed results against top competition....

    Looking at basketball-reference.com, Lin's best fg% game came against Indiana (4-5 for 80%), he was 4-6 in one of our losses to Memphis, 5-8 vs. Washington, 7-13 vs. Chicago, and then there are a handful of 50% games including the Clips, Por, GSW, SAS, NOP, MEM, PHO, and OKC.

    Some of these are on limited shots, and the majority of his best games are against the lower echelon of the league, but that is true for lots of players. In fantasy basketball, if I am looking to add a player I check their upcoming schedule. If I see Indiana, Memphis, and OKC all coming up I typically won't add that player because the majority of the league simply does not fare well against those teams. On the other hand, if I see Philly, Dallas, and Cleveland on the schedule it's a near lock that player is going to have a good week.

    A while back I was looking at Chris Paul's numbers and found the same. He mostly feasts on the weak and looks closer to mortal against elite teams and defenses. So it's no indictment on Lin in my opinion. That's just the way it is most of the time.

    Pull up James Harden on bball reference, sort his fg% on the game logs page and it reads like this: (starting with the worst) PHO, MEM, IND, OKC, MEM, BRK, LAC, CHI, MIN, DEN. That's just how it goes.

    Harden's consistency this season has been a huge part of our success. It brings me back to the term variance which Morey would use to describe what the team needs. At that point, we weren't good enough (at our average) to win enough games--meaning we needed that variance, and to hope it happened on the plus side more than the minus, in order to win (which is part of why we kept hovering around .500 for so long). I haven't heard that word this season. I believe that is because our baseline is good enough to win most games and now it is about performing consistently at that level.

  • thenit says 5 months ago @JG

    I agree he needs to be more consistent especially now when bev is out. I remember last year both you and me argued that harden fg% were very inconsistent. If I recall correctly harden had about one out of three games where he shot poorly. This year it's probably closer to 1 in 10. Lin needs kind of have the same problem as harden did, luckily we aren't too dependand on lins shooting since he doesn't take that many shots of the bench. But it will be more important now when he starts
  • rockets best fan says 5 months ago

    @JG

    do they have any way to see what teams he shot poorly against and what teams he shot above average against? I would venture to say I bet he had his worse games against contending teams. the chart work is off the chain JG thanks for posting it. Remember when you and I discussed Lin at the end of last year and I told you I thought he had peaked? his production this year would seem to indicate I was right. I didn't come to that conclusion lightly. I watched him very closely last year and by the end of the year thought I had seen enough to make a judgment call. I'm no talent scout, but I am rarely wrong about players I study like I did Lin last year. his game has to many holes. we keep talking about him like all he needs to do is get more consistent, however isn't that the factor that separates the good from the mediocre?

  • dbd says 5 months ago

    I think most of Lin's TO were result of poor/home-run passes. I can live with TO while driving in the paint or lost dribble in the paint. This happened to all players. His TO were low when he was more concentrated on scoring than distributing.

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    No biggie....I was kidding that I had hijacked the thread more than anyone. I went and isolated Lin's fg% chart above to just this year so we could see it more easily.

    BiShF0I.jpg

    The start of the season was really nice for him...since then, he's hot and cold with little in the middle.

  • BrentYen says 5 months ago

    @ JG, thanks for all the numbers, I was not really trying to prove anything. It was just random thinking. You know what I stands for and the reason I think Lin's number (both good and bad) means little. B) And.......Hijacking this thread is definitely not my intention either. sorry guys. I totally agree the need of the team part, I think he is doing ok. :rolleyes:

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    Kudos to NBA.com for providing great tools for us to use! Check out these charts for both Lin and Harden that track their fg% thoughout their careers. It gives a nice visual representation of what I'm talking about. Harden first:

    lGY7qdq.jpg

    These are variations in FG% from year to year and within each cluster game to game. James' clusters have gotten tighter and less erratic each year. That is awesome! He has been very consistent for us this season.

    Now, let's take a look at Mr. Lin's chart:

    Gu6ZrQx.jpg

    Last season's cluster is great--that's more what we need from Jeremy. This season....well, you can see for yourself. Jeckyll and Hyde. :(

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    This brought me thinking, so....in terms of player pecking order on the team, We should use everyone's absolute worst game (or maybe 5th worst game to eliminate the outlier) to determine? Because the worst case scenarios is considered.

    I think I see where you are going with this. I was trying to be fair in looking at where Lin is right now. I included his best and worst. Everyone has off nights, but most of our players are more consistent in what they produce night in, night out.

    It's not that he has bad nights--that's fine. Anyone who has played basketball knows there are days where the ball seems too big for the hoop. For professionals that cannot happen as often as it does for Lin. Let's expand to the whole season.

    Jeremy has shot 40% or worse 24 times out of 61 games this season. He has shot 30% or worse 16 times. He has shot 20% or worse 5 times.

    Conversely he has shot 60% or better 10 times. He has shot between 60%-50% 18 times. That is 28 games with a solid, or better, shooting performance.

    And that's the problem. He has very little else to fall on and contribute with when his shot isn't falling. His good assist games are as unreliable as his shooting. He works hard on the court, but to be a useful contributor he needs to score for us--that is his function on the team.

    It doesn't matter how people rank the guys on the roster. What matters is getting a reliable contribution from everyone. More often than not, you know what you are going to get from each player each game--except Jeremy. I will add, that Bev's offense is what I consider "gravy" or an added bonus on top of what he already brings. His job is defense, hustle, and floor spacing--he brings that just about every night.

    Harden is going to get you 25 points and a handful of rebounds/assists (sometimes more)

    Howard is going to get a double-double.

    Parsons (who has been in a slump I'm surprised hasn't really been talked about much) is going to get you a Harden-lite line of 15, 5, & 5.

    Jones is going to hustle, shoot a high %, fight for rebounds, and finish inside.

    We need Jeremy to give us that 12-13 points, 2-3 rebounds, 4-6 assists on a nightly basis while avoiding those 4-5 turnovers.

    For me, it's not about attacking Jeremy--it's merely a perspective from team need. He's a guy we rely on nightly and nearly half the time he isn't delivering. Maybe he isn't suited to be the sixth man. I don't think that is the problem. He's got enough physical gifts to play in the NBA. He's got to find a way to mentally harness that talent and put it all together consistently.

    We don't need him to go off for 20 and 10. We need him to settle in and play solid ball the way we all know he can.

    Sorry to everyone for yet another Thread-Hijacked-By-Jeremy-Lin-Talk :rolleyes: .

  • BrentYen says 5 months ago

    This brought me thinking, so....in terms of player pecking order on the team, We should use everyone's absolute worst game (or maybe 5th worst game to eliminate the outlier) to determine? Because the worst case scenarios is considered.

  • rockets best fan says 5 months ago

    @JG

    that's it in a nut shell. he could implode or explode in any game, but that inconsistency in the playoffs would be unacceptable to me. I don't share you opinion that he will eventually become a decent player. he is what he is for better or worse. we are already looking at his ceiling. he has been at this for 2 full years now and he still looks like the same inconsistent player. I have a feeling when we need him most is when he will disappear. against top teams in the league he is useless.........a turnover machine that can't shoot straight or run the second unit effectively. bench him :lol:

  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    The analytic had Lakers to win it all last year too I guess

    Ha, good point, Brent.

    I think on any given night Jeremy can play like one of our best players and also like one of our worst players. He's got to find some steady middle ground and he will be fine--as will the Rockets. Jeremy is a high risk-high reward proposition every game. He might go off or he might implode.

    With consistency he would move up that list, but potential works both ways and Jeremy's "potential" for a great game must be tempered with his potential for a rather forgetful performance.

    Go check out his game logs HERE

    I don't really care about excuses here--he has had plenty of opportunity and it's time to accept the present situation (remember, I still believe he will develop into a solid, reliable player....eventually)

    In the last 20 games he has shot at or above 50% 7 times. Since the all-star break (17 games) he is shooting .416 from the field and .326 from three.

    In those same 20 games he has put up shooting nights of the following: 1-6, 1-6, 2-8, 3-11, 1-6, 1-4, 7-17, 2-7, and 3-11. That's 9 of the 20 games where he stunk it up. On the flip side, he had an 8-14, 5-8, 4-5, 7-13, 7-10, 4-7, and 4-6. That's seven games shooting above 50%. That leaves 4 average games. He's a human roller coaster :lol: . Still, that's 13 of 20 games where he has played ho-hum or worse. That's why he is garnering criticism.

    Our record in those 9 stinker games was 7-2. Our record in the 7 solid games was 6-1. We were 2-2 in the other 4. Ha, according to this Lin's volatility is a good thing. I guess we should just let him continue doing what he does...as long as he is aggressive I can live with an off night from him. I think if he does that he could swing a game or two in a playoff series our way.....and probably swing a game or two the other way as well... :P

  • BrentYen says 5 months ago The analytic had Lakers to win it all last year too I guess
  • Steven says 5 months ago

    wow a kid that shoots 40% from the floor and play almost 32 minutes a game is one of your best player.
    i like pat beverly heart, but he doesn't play those minutes on no other team in the nba.
    he fits the rockets team, but he is a role player at best.

    And what exactly is Jeremy Lin? Seriously how is one a role player at best, and the other not? Yes if Lin ran a team he might put up decent numbers, but when the starting lineup was Asik Lin P-Pat Parsons and Martin, the analytics computers had the Rockets finishing dead last in the West. His numbers would be as empty as T-Mac's scoring title when the Magic won 18 games. And if he can actually stay healthy this year, maybe we can find out if he can step up his game in the playoffs, but based on his past I'd bet Canaan is the backup PG and Lin is in a suit. 2 years in the playoffs 2 years missing games due to injury in the playoffs.
  • Steven says 5 months ago

    @Steven
    I would disagree..........right now I think D-Mo is in front of him as well, making him 8th and dropping like a rock

    I said 7th or 8th. D-Mo is an acceptable answer to me as well, he only asked for six tho.
  • datruth says 5 months ago

    wow a kid that shoots 40% from the floor and play almost 32 minutes a game is one of your best player.

    i like pat beverly heart, but he doesn't play those minutes on no other team in the nba.

    he fits the rockets team, but he is a role player at best.

  • BrentYen says 5 months ago

    I would disagree too, more like 3rd or maybe 4th.

  • rockets best fan says 5 months ago

    @Steven

    I would disagree..........right now I think D-Mo is in front of him as well, making him 8th and dropping like a rock

  • Steven says 5 months ago

    7th best? who are the 1st 6?

    Harden Howard Parsons Beverly Jones Asik
  • SadLakerFan says 5 months ago

    Without any knowledge of the actual event my knee-jerk reaction is "well... he was against John Stockton" :P

    I was a pretty rabid fan back then and watched those games over and over on tape. The Rockets had a great team of veteran starters (Olajuwon, Drexler, Barkley, Elie) that was a little old but still near the top of their games. The only question mark was at PG, where rookie Maloney started, because the Rockets had traded Sam Cassell to get Barkley. He was actually great during the regular season, but against the Jazz, he couldn't hit a show and he just self-destructed. That would have been an NBA Finals for the ages. Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, Kukoc, Olajuwon, Drexler, Barkley . . . . . oh well, back to reality.

  • SadLakerFan says 5 months ago

    This is the playoffs where you play your best players until the game is out of hand, or they get in foul trouble or they break down. You don't play your reserves for an extended period, unless they are one of your best 5 players. Lin might be the 7th or 8th best player on the Rockets, therefore he should get the run of the 7th or 8th best player. If Harden and Beverly are both delivering, then that means less minutes for Lin, but probably means the Rockets are winning. And as a true Rockets fan I care more about winning then who plays. If Covington, Canaan, Daniels, Casspi and Garcia were the starters and the Rockets were winning, then that's all I care about, the score at the end of the night come May and June. Everything else is irrelevant.

    Perhaps my use of the term "playoffs" was confusing. I think we're saying the same thing. Obviously, you like to see starters getting good rest during the regular season. In the playoffs, you are still trying to rest your guys as much as you can while still winning the games, because you have to be concerned about the games that are remaining. Thus, rotations tighten and starter minutes go up as you get deeper in the playoffs, because you have fewer remaining games to worry about. By the time you get to the finals, you might be basically down to six players playing meaningful minutes.

  • BrentYen says 5 months ago

    7th best? who are the 1st 6?

  • Steven says 5 months ago

    People allow their like or dislike for Lin to affect their opinions. Hope Lin doesn't play because that means starters are playing well? Uhhhhh, this is the NBA, not high school hoops. There probably isn't a Spurs starter that averages more than 30 MPG (and that's not counting games where they sit out the entire game). Do you think that's because they aren't playing well or because Pop knows that when you start approaching 100 games, guys are running on fumes and adrenaline if they haven't had sufficient rest. That's why the Spurs are dangerous as you go deeper in the playoffs. I think they are more easily beaten in early rounds, when younger teams. Are still fresh than later, when that extra 20-30 % of PT comes back to haunt most players.

    In the playoffs, even when rotations get shorter, lower starter minutes generally means the team is winning.

    This is the playoffs where you play your best players until the game is out of hand, or they get in foul trouble or they break down. You don't play your reserves for an extended period, unless they are one of your best 5 players. Lin might be the 7th or 8th best player on the Rockets, therefore he should get the run of the 7th or 8th best player. If Harden and Beverly are both delivering, then that means less minutes for Lin, but probably means the Rockets are winning. And as a true Rockets fan I care more about winning then who plays. If Covington, Canaan, Daniels, Casspi and Garcia were the starters and the Rockets were winning, then that's all I care about, the score at the end of the night come May and June. Everything else is irrelevant.
  • rockets best fan says 5 months ago

    @SadLakerFan

    I don't understand your angle. why would I want any player to play more if he is playing poorly? whether it be Beverley or Lin how would it benefit the team to leave them in the game?

    as for comparing the Rockets to the Spurs...........each team is in a different point in their evolutions. San Antonio is on it's final legs and we are trying establish our spot among the contenders. when Duncan, Ginobli and Parker were younger they played a lot more than they do now. San Antonio adopted this present strategy as their players aged. while I will agree resting players in preparation for the playoffs in smart especially for older teams, however each team is different. some young teams don't need as much rest......building chemistry and fighting for playoff seedingis more important.

  • grumpasaurus says 5 months ago

    ... when he imploded against John Stockton.

    Without any knowledge of the actual event my knee-jerk reaction is "well... he was against John Stockton" :P

  • SadLakerFan says 5 months ago

    As far as Beverley is concerned, my view is that he should play more when he is playing badly than when he is playing well- when the shot isn't falling or when he appears mismatched. He needs to learn to be effective when he isn't playing well.I think most of you guys are younger, but some of us rememberMatt Maloney - the last time the Rockets used a rookie PG in a deep playoff run- and it basically cost the Rockets a trip tothe finals when he imploded against John Stockton.

  • SadLakerFan says 5 months ago People allow their like or dislike for Lin to affect their opinions. Hope Lin doesn't play because that means starters are playing well? Uhhhhh, this is the NBA, not high school hoops. There probably isn't a Spurs starter that averages more than 30 MPG (and that's not counting games where they sit out the entire game). Do you think that's because they aren't playing well or because Pop knows that when you start approaching 100 games, guys are running on fumes and adrenaline if they haven't had sufficient rest. That's why the Spurs are dangerous as you go deeper in the playoffs. I think they are more easily beaten in early rounds, when younger teams. Are still fresh than later, when that extra 20-30 % of PT comes back to haunt most players.

    In the playoffs, even when rotations get shorter, lower starter minutes generally means the team is winning.
  • Buckko says 5 months ago

    He's too inconsistent.

  • Steven says 5 months ago The less Lin plays come playoff time, the better the Rockets will be. Means Harden and Beverly are delivering.
  • BrentYen says 5 months ago

    I knew he is a backup. :)

    But he was used in a different way in early season: a sixth man role.

    PS. I won't lose my sleep if coaches didn't use him at all. Just tried to observe from bball strategy point of view. I am afraid that my post will draw people calling me a LOF, blah blah blah.....

    He has role that is given to him. I doubt it is a 6MOY role.

  • rockets best fan says 5 months ago

    @dbd

    I hope it's to reduce his role in the playoffs. if you think Lin has been playing well lately......we have a difference of opinion. I see a couple of good nights surrounded by a bunch of mediocre ones. as a matter of fact the less he plays lately the better I feel :lol:

  • dbd says 5 months ago

    I knew he is a backup. :)

    But he was used in a different way in early season: a sixth man role.

    PS. I won't lose my sleep if coaches didn't use him at all. Just tried to observe from bball strategy point of view. I am afraid that my post will draw people calling me a LOF, blah blah blah.....

  • BrentYen says 5 months ago He is a back up, so.... I think it simply just depends on how were the starters doing. Also in some games, when you don use small ball, Lin will get more minutes only if PB plays very bad.
  • dbd says 5 months ago

    I am not sure why Lin's minutes are getting lower recently even though he was playing well lately.

    is it McHale's plan to reduce Lin's role in playoff or resting a bit to accelerate in playoff. Very interesting.

  • redfaithful says 5 months ago

    Looking at the current numbers for the month of March at http://espn.go.com/nba/team/stats/_/name/hou/split/44/houston-rockets, a few observations:

    • Balanced scoring: Harden is in his own stratosphere, but he is followed by the large group of Howard-Jones-Parsons-Beverley-Lin in the 11-15PPG range, with significant contributions (around 6PPG) from DMo-Hamilton-Asik.
    • AFG% very interesting. Very impressive numbers for Jones (0.66), and Harden (0.61 with 7.5 3PA!!). All other rotations players between 0.5 and 0.58 with two exceptions. As pointed in the article, Parsons is having tough time offensively, with team-worse 0.44, and Hamilton slowed down to 0.46.
    • Parsons compensates with 5.1 APG and good A/TO of 2.8. Beverley doing better in the A/TO column with 3.0.
    • In the blocks column, Howard and Jones are very close at 1.33 and 1.25, with Asik a bit behind with 1.08. However, per 36 minutes Asik has 2.06, Jones 1.61 and Howard 1.43.
  • QNoir says 5 months ago

    Parsons could have been racking up assists if he kicked it out on some of those shots. He can be a little predictable at times, trying to lean into a crowded lane. Of course, it doesn't help if kicking it out becomes a turnover. Maybe if he learned to turn his back and hold the ball low, like Harden can do in those situations.