Houston Rockets 100, New York Knicks 98 – All’s well that ends well

Coming off a disappointing loss to Sacramento, this was a key game for the Rockets to get back on track. Some bad habits have been forming that it would have been nice to see broken, but more important was to get a win to stop the team from sliding any further down the Western Conference standings. They weren’t perfect, and they left it late, but eventually they hung on for an important win.

  • In what is by now a very familiar trend, Harden decided to monopolize the ball in the clutch. They had stretched the lead up to 5, but on repeated possessions he ran the clock down without getting a good shot out of it. While watching this game, it occurred to me that there are two types of Harden isolations. In the good, acceptable ones he faces up his defender prior to using his dribble and keeps his head up. Often these end up with him whipping the ball to a team-mate whose defender has cheated off him slightly too much, but he can also work out of the triple threat to get the step on his defender. In the bad type of isolation, he tends to have a live dribble. In that situation, he is much less likely to consider passing, and especially in late-game situations he has a tendency to go for fancy side-to-side dribbles instead of wriggling his way towards the rim. Unfortunately the late game possessions were more of the latter type, and we saw the perils of that approach when he accidentally dribbled the ball off his foot and was lucky not to give the Knicks a fast break.
  • It’s worth bearing in mind – you have to balance any criticism of Harden with an acknowledgement that he pretty much single-handedly kept the Rockets’ offence going in the second half of this game. He finished with 37 points and 6 assists, and there were stretches of the game where he seemed to be the only player capable of making a shot. The timely threes and trips to the line are a huge asset to the team and in my mind it’s worth taking the bad with the good. It’s just frustrating given that there’s no good reason that you couldn’t keep the positives and get rid of the negatives.
  • Despite the hero-ball, the Rockets were able to come away with the victory. This was thanks to a combination of actually getting some stops in the late game for once and some terrible decision making from the Knicks. A few weeks ago Bargnani was rightly pilloried for launching a three when all he had to do was hold onto the ball. You would have thought that the team would have learned its lesson from that, but apparently not. With 20 seconds left on the clock and the scores tied at 100, the Knicks corralled an offensive rebound. All they had to do was hold for the last shot, but instead they passed the ball to JR Smith at the top of the arc who promptly missed a three. The Rockets got the board and to compound the error, a foul while fighting for the ball put Brooks on the line. So instead of having the last shot and a chance to win the game in regulation, the Knicks got the ball back with 17 seconds and needing to score to avoid losing. A huge swing and a lucky break in the Rockets’ favour.
  • There’s not much you can do about Carmelo – despite playing on a sprained ankle he was too good in the post for Parsons. What you can do, however, is keep tabs on the Knicks’ outside shooters. The Rockets started out doing this very well – I was impressed initially by the extra attention the defenders seemed to be paying to their men on the perimeter. However, as the game wore on that effort started to lapse and shooters started to get free. Iman Shumpert took special advantage of the freedom he was afforded as he buried 6 of 6 outside shots (all of them open). Sometimes shooters get hot, but here the Rockets gave him so much space it was not particularly surprising that he made a high percentage and this inattention was a huge part of why the game was close down the stretch.
  • Once again it felt like Howard did not get enough touches in the post. He was rarely saw the ball in the second half, and with the offence generally looking anaemic he should probably have been fed a bit more often.
  • On a related note, it was good to see Greg Smith back in the rotation. I’ve been a bit concerned by some of the minute totals Howard has been putting up in past games (even with Smith, he still had 38 minutes tonight), but hopefully McHale will be able to rejig the rotation in future games to keep Dwight’s minutes a little lower.
  • Harden kept trying to throw a lob to Terrence Jones in the first half. The first few times it was slow and telegraphed and the Knicks had defenders in place to snuff it out. It doesn’t look like a good option in the half court set, but when they tried it on the fast break it connected rather well. Perhaps it’s something they’ve been practising in their days off?

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  • thenit says 7 months ago

    I agree, for me I think the biggest difference between Good Lin and Bad Lin is that when he is aggressive and almost attacks with reckless abandon is that when he is at his best. When his emotions and adrenalin is kicking in he can go off and score 30. But if he starts off slow or gets benched due to his performance in a particular game for a long stint, when he re enters he is very passive and therefore looks very poor with no rhythm. The two comebacks win when Lin score more than 10 points in back to back games in the 4th despite being awful the the first 3 Qs was encouraging but then he laid an egg the next game and disappeared in the 2nd half against the Knicks. This is to be expected for a young player, I think when Bev returns Lin will go back to the second unit and will have the ball in his hand to just attack which is a better fit for him than being passive next to Harden. He is the same type of player as Harden just not at the same level so we need more of a Fisher, Bev type next to Harden.

  • SamC says 7 months ago

    "It is acknowledged that there has been friction between Lin and McHale"

    I remember seeing Lin push McHale back to the bench two distinct times in different games trying to make sure McHale wouldn't get a technical. I highly doubt Lin would feel comfortable putting a hand on McHale if they didn't have a good relationship.

  • thejohnnygold says 7 months ago

    The numbers posted in regard to Lin suggests that his play has regressed over the past few seasons. (I think he was on the + side in previous seasons.) I watch him, he was once a fearless attacker at both ends of the floor. Now he looks as if he's afraid he'll be benched with the next bad pass, lost dribble, missed layup, or blown defensive assignment.

    It is acknowledged that there has been friction between Lin and McHale... It would be really interesting to see Lin how plays if he were to get traded. I kind of have this burning curiosity whether his game would continue to regress (which would suggest his problem had nothing to do with McHale) or rebound to a semblance of Linsanity (which would suggest McHale was holding him back).

    In the wake of what happened with Lowry, I wonder if a playmaking point guard is compatible with our current system. Pat Beverley is a defense first point guard, it seems like the "Mario Chalmers" role is ideal for our current club.

    Nothing against Lin, but I do think Morey got caught up in Lin's success after letting him go. He then offered that contract on more of an emotional response than an analytical one. I do find it especially troubling that we went after this player without any idea he'd be so incompatible with our coach. (I know a Lin-only fan who was gone as far into believing that Morey went after Lin to sabotage him.)

    Rumors said Morey pursued Lin because Leslie wants him. They want Lin to carry Yao's Asian fan base. So it is totally understandable from business standpoint.

    Again, like Morey, McHale got a PG that doesn't fit his system. We all knew that Morey acquired players with none or little input from coaches.

    Lin isn't a crap but he need a coach believe in him, system suited to him, and compatible players around him to succeed.

    I don't even know where to begin...so let's start at the top and work our way down.

    "The numbers posted in regard to Lin suggests that his play has regressed over the past few seasons"

    Do they really? Let's look a those numbers then.

    5BFqzJM.jpg

    Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way, but I see a player who has increased his shooting efficiency considerably. His USG% from New York (28.1) is what allowed him to post such high volume numbers in assists and rebounds. Here, his role is different; yet, he still boasts a usg% of 21.5 which is higher than last year's 20.8. Think about that. We brought in Dwight, moved Lin to the bench, and his usage rate increased. He is not being repressed people.

    His Per36 numbers look pretty consistent as well. The assists have dropped due to our decrease in pick n roll offense. No big deal. Change of role for Lin. I honestly think some fans would rather see Jeremy have a usg% of 75, have him score triple doubles every night, get paid $40M per year, and play on a team that features nothing but complimentary players who won't infringe on Jeremy's dominance. That team's likely record: 18-64. And the fans would rejoice in all his glory. I'm being somewhat facetious here. :P

    Lin's got some work to do regarding ball security and defense (like half of our team). Otherwise, he is playing at a very high level. Yet, somehow McHale hates him and is holding him back...holding him back from what? Isn't it more likely that the compelling evidence of these actual numbers (versus imaginary ones) suggests McHale is, in some part, responsible for helping Lin succeed and thrive here?

    Yes. The answer is yes. Lin did his part. He put in the necessary work. The numbers are there. Look for yourselves. There has been no regression. Let's move on.

    "Now he looks as if he's afraid"

    Does he really? This is so very subjective. You're saying you can see his emotions in his face during the game? My TV is not that good.

    Are you saying he looks like this?

    fear.jpgfear.jpgfear2.jpg

    I don't see him make these faces very often, but I will keep my eyes peeled. He's a very confident, self-assured person who finds his strength from within and in his faith. According to you, McHale is some kind of demon that can take that from him through the clever use of benching. Interesting...

    "It is acknowledged that there has been friction between Lin and McHale"

    Can we get a link to this? As far as I have seen, the only acknowledgement of this comes from LOF sources that are as biased as the day is long. Until we get some credibility on this it is conjectured hearsay at best. Moving on...

    "He then offered that contract on more of an emotional response than an analytical one"

    Did he really? This is an interesting assertion. Morey probably doesn't buy cereal without researching it first, but he had seller's remorse and dropped $25M on Jeremy Lin without thinking about his skillset, the team, or Coach McHale? That sounds reasonable...

    "I know a Lin-only fan who was gone as far into believing that Morey went after Lin to sabotage him"

    spongebob-imagination.jpg

    "We all knew that Morey acquired players with none or little input from coaches"

    Did we? I definitely missed that announcement. Did you have a link for that interview, or article, as I am sure many of us would love to read about how Daryl Morey runs the team. According to you (and rumors), he does take orders from Les Alexander, but ignores his coaching staff when making personnel decisions. I see....

    I'm not convinced guys. Seems like the same old stuff to me. I truly would like to see some support for these allegations...preferably from a reputed source and not the LOF gossip grist mill.

  • Richards says 7 months ago

    Rumors said Morey pursued Lin because Leslie wants him. They want Lin to carry Yao's Asian fan base. So it is totally understandable from business standpoint.

    Again, like Morey, McHale got a PG that doesn't fit his system. We all knew that Morey acquired players with none or little input from coaches.

    Lin isn't a crap but he need a coach believe in him, system suited to him, and compatible players around him to succeed.

  • Hockey the Harden Way says 7 months ago

    The numbers posted in regard to Lin suggests that his play has regressed over the past few seasons. (I think he was on the + side in previous seasons.) I watch him, he was once a fearless attacker at both ends of the floor. Now he looks as if he's afraid he'll be benched with the next bad pass, lost dribble, missed layup, or blown defensive assignment.

    It is acknowledged that there has been friction between Lin and McHale... It would be really interesting to see Lin how plays if he were to get traded. I kind of have this burning curiosity whether his game would continue to regress (which would suggest his problem had nothing to do with McHale) or rebound to a semblance of Linsanity (which would suggest McHale was holding him back).

    In the wake of what happened with Lowry, I wonder if a playmaking point guard is compatible with our current system. Pat Beverley is a defense first point guard, it seems like the "Mario Chalmers" role is ideal for our current club.

    Nothing against Lin, but I do think Morey got caught up in Lin's success after letting him go. He then offered that contract on more of an emotional response than an analytical one. I do find it especially troubling that we went after this player without any idea he'd be so incompatible with our coach. (I know a Lin-only fan who was gone as far into believing that Morey went after Lin to sabotage him.)

  • linonlyfan says 7 months ago

    I think we can safely say JohnnyGold has closed the "why was Lin benched and he doesn't get McHale's respect" discussion (was it ever really?)conclusively here.

    The Casspi v Jones bit is definately against recent eye test as it seems they have pretty good chemistry. Lin seems to like pushing the ball and both Casspi and Jones are usually quality leading wingmen.

    Hope the team can get a run of real games with the full squad available. Then we will really know what we have for this season.

  • rocketrick says 8 months ago

    I just can't help myself. :D Looking at some team stats from 82games.com I saw some things I wanted to share with the group. First, here is the link to the entire Rockets 2013-14 page.

    The notion that Lin is under-utilized on our team is interesting to me. If he were a top 20 level talent then I would agree, but what are we really looking at with Lin? That's a tough question to answer. I will cut him slack for having a huge learning curve given all the things he is trying to improve in his game, but the reality is we have to look at him in the present for what he is while anticipating what his future likely will be.

    He is an above average guard in this league. That's about it. I'm sorry, but almost every team in the league has one guard who is effectively better than Lin (some are injured: Rose, Rondo, Paul). It's not an insult. Being an above average guard in the NBA (with plenty of room for improvement) is a good thing. Hopefully he can improve and get to that next level (before anyone gets started--he is not being held back by his coaches--that is a Soccer-Mom-Why-Aren't-You-Playing-My-Son overreaction. I will post some evidence below).

    vUp17Zh.jpg

    This is just a simple minutes distribution with some on/off stuff. While the on/off isn't good for Lin we can ignore that for now. He plays 44% of the Rockets total minutes which is exceeded only by the starters and two of those starters (Jones and Bev) just barely. So, he is almost getting starter's minutes coming off the bench. Let's look further...

    rhytrHA.jpg

    Some more +/- stuff. I know these things are incredibly subjective, but we've watched the games and know that subjectivity so I figure it's ok to look at the numbers. Let's move on to some line ups...

    c90utd2.jpg

    Here is where the under-utilized argument takes another hit. Four of our top five most used line ups feature Jeremy Lin and combine for a +32 minute advantage over that top ranked starting line up. The plus minus numbers are all over the place, but the higher minute ones are probably somewhat reliable as a barometer of what you get with those squads. Based on these numbers, the starting line up is supremely better with Beverley at PG vs. Lin. It's not a knock on Lin--it's about what makes the team better. That third line up shows that swapping Casspi for Jones seems to yield good results with Jeremy.

    The coaching staff is still working this stuff out, but it appears that Lin and Jones sharing the court does not yield positive results--so far. So, let's assume Coach McHale knows this. He's got to decide who's finishing the game. If he wants Jones in for defense and rebounding (and you know he does) then he may wisely choose to go with a different player at PG as the numbers indicate playing them together doesn't yield wins. This may change as they study film and figure out how to best utilize everyone, but right now, that does not seem to be the case. It's not about holding Lin back--it's about wins! Win, not Lin.

    I've got one more chart.

    4rucdz9.jpg

    On this chart I am looking at one thing: turnovers. I know that Harden, Howard, and Parsons are big culprits too, but look at that starters' net versus the others. Late in games this matters. Brooks has some solid numbers on this as well. As a coach, you have to consider these things when it gets down to the nitty gritty. We only have X amount of possessions left. We need to maximize our own possessions and minimize theirs--that means trying not to turn the ball over (JAMES!) and rebounding every missed shot in sight. (now if we could just figure out how to run a play...)

    I recognize that these stats are far from the end all be all of reliability regarding the +/- stuff. Again, given that we have watched the games I think we can view them with the appropriate grain of salt. The main point is Lin is getting plenty of time on the court to prove himself and help this team win--which he clearly does as long as he's with Casspi and not Jones :). So, people can continue to bemoan his playing time and his role, but the numbers don't lie. The Rockets are best with Lin as their 6th man.


    Excellent research, JohnnyGold !!!
  • rocketrick says 8 months ago

    I just said that Bradley was a 2 guard capable of guarding point guards. It's not as rare as some are claiming.


    Avery Bradley is listed on the Celtics roster as a PG. He's 6'2" and 180 pounds so a bit on the small side to guard most SG's in the NBA.

    Michael Cooper (earlier discussion above) is 6'5" and was a much more effective defensive player than Avery Bradley will likely ever be in the NBA.
  • thenit says 8 months ago I agree with those stats. But just to add a wrinkle in the in couple percentage when Bev starts wins almost 80 percent of the times has to be factored in that the bench is much better with Lin as the sixth man. I think that's his ideal spot as a nba player unless he is the primary ball handler. He is just not effective and doesn't get into a nice rhythm. Once bev is back I think we would play a lot better which makes the starting unit and second unit so much better.
  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    I just can't help myself. :D Looking at some team stats from 82games.com I saw some things I wanted to share with the group. First, here is the link to the entire Rockets 2013-14 page.

    The notion that Lin is under-utilized on our team is interesting to me. If he were a top 20 level talent then I would agree, but what are we really looking at with Lin? That's a tough question to answer. I will cut him slack for having a huge learning curve given all the things he is trying to improve in his game, but the reality is we have to look at him in the present for what he is while anticipating what his future likely will be.

    He is an above average guard in this league. That's about it. I'm sorry, but almost every team in the league has one guard who is effectively better than Lin (some are injured: Rose, Rondo, Paul). It's not an insult. Being an above average guard in the NBA (with plenty of room for improvement) is a good thing. Hopefully he can improve and get to that next level (before anyone gets started--he is not being held back by his coaches--that is a Soccer-Mom-Why-Aren't-You-Playing-My-Son overreaction. I will post some evidence below).

    vUp17Zh.jpg

    This is just a simple minutes distribution with some on/off stuff. While the on/off isn't good for Lin we can ignore that for now. He plays 44% of the Rockets total minutes which is exceeded only by the starters and two of those starters (Jones and Bev) just barely. So, he is almost getting starter's minutes coming off the bench. Let's look further...

    rhytrHA.jpg

    Some more +/- stuff. I know these things are incredibly subjective, but we've watched the games and know that subjectivity so I figure it's ok to look at the numbers. Let's move on to some line ups...

    c90utd2.jpg

    Here is where the under-utilized argument takes another hit. Four of our top five most used line ups feature Jeremy Lin and combine for a +32 minute advantage over that top ranked starting line up. The plus minus numbers are all over the place, but the higher minute ones are probably somewhat reliable as a barometer of what you get with those squads. Based on these numbers, the starting line up is supremely better with Beverley at PG vs. Lin. It's not a knock on Lin--it's about what makes the team better. That third line up shows that swapping Casspi for Jones seems to yield good results with Jeremy.

    The coaching staff is still working this stuff out, but it appears that Lin and Jones sharing the court does not yield positive results--so far. So, let's assume Coach McHale knows this. He's got to decide who's finishing the game. If he wants Jones in for defense and rebounding (and you know he does) then he may wisely choose to go with a different player at PG as the numbers indicate playing them together doesn't yield wins. This may change as they study film and figure out how to best utilize everyone, but right now, that does not seem to be the case. It's not about holding Lin back--it's about wins! Win, not Lin.

    I've got one more chart.

    4rucdz9.jpg

    On this chart I am looking at one thing: turnovers. I know that Harden, Howard, and Parsons are big culprits too, but look at that starters' net versus the others. Late in games this matters. Brooks has some solid numbers on this as well. As a coach, you have to consider these things when it gets down to the nitty gritty. We only have X amount of possessions left. We need to maximize our own possessions and minimize theirs--that means trying not to turn the ball over (JAMES!) and rebounding every missed shot in sight. (now if we could just figure out how to run a play...)

    I recognize that these stats are far from the end all be all of reliability regarding the +/- stuff. Again, given that we have watched the games I think we can view them with the appropriate grain of salt. The main point is Lin is getting plenty of time on the court to prove himself and help this team win--which he clearly does as long as he's with Casspi and not Jones :). So, people can continue to bemoan his playing time and his role, but the numbers don't lie. The Rockets are best with Lin as their 6th man.

  • Cooper says 8 months ago You really think AB Dmo and casspi will be the hot hand every game the rest of the year?
  • Richards says 8 months ago

    Lin got benched and we won. Dwight got benched and we won. TJ got benched and we won. Should we keep benching those players and ride the the hot hand of the day in AB, D-Mo, and Cassipi in playoffs?

    Harden gave us points and so we tolerate his horrible defense? Should we make him accountable and better on defensive end? Instead of coupling with a better fit player in Bev, shoule we use a better player in Lin?

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    I just said that Bradley was a 2 guard capable of guarding point guards. It's not as rare as some are claiming.

    Ohhhh. Bradley was a PG up until the NBA and then switched to better maximize his skill set. But your point stands.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 8 months ago I just said that Bradley was a 2 guard capable of guarding point guards. It's not as rare as some are claiming.
  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    I'm not sure either--I'm guessing you are saying a guy who comes off the bench, plays 30 or so mpg, and contributes in a lot of ways.

    I have a personal grudge against Bradley due to his 1-year-no-show for Texas Basketball. He came here, coasted his way through the season, and then still gets drafted. For a while, UT was a magnet for these guys and it crashed our program a bit (that and Barnes is possibly the worst coach in the NCAA). That being said, he has turned into a solid two-way NBA player.

    Jamal Crawford plays this role for the Clippers. Lamar Odom used to do it for the Lakers. We all know about Manu. Danny Granger is going to wind up getting his name in the 6th man award group (the Pacers are loaded! Granger and Scola are a solid inside out combo on a second unit).

    Most bench players play 10-20 mpg (roughly) which equates to 20%-40% of the entire game (roughly). To diminish the value of that portion of the game as seemingly inconsequential (which many seem to do) is not seeing the big picture.

  • rocketrick says 8 months ago ??? Just trying to figure out what you are trying to discuss.

    I'm good!
  • timetodienow1234567 says 8 months ago Lol. Calm down.
  • rocketrick says 8 months ago

    Avery Bradley is one such player right now.


    Not sure what your point is here??
  • timetodienow1234567 says 8 months ago Avery Bradley is one such player right now.
  • rocketrick says 8 months ago

    Thank you for this--you stated your point very well.

    The disconnect comes from perspective and subjectivity. The majority of Houston fans are not concerned with an individual player's status, role, minutes, etc. We only care about the win column. I agree that Lin has plenty of talent. He has so much talent that the team has asked him to be their 6th man--a crucial role for any team with championship aspirations. He averages 30 mpg which is certainly more than the vast majority of "bench" players get. I just don't get the perception that Lin's move to 6th man is disrespectful. We're trying to win games not write scripts for Disney movies.

    I'm glad that Isaiah Thomas supports Lin. Unfortunately, I do not hold his basketball opinions in very high esteem so let's just move on from there.

    We will just have to agree to disagree about the "Lin is not treated as a key player" business. This goes back to the perspective and subjectivity thing. Lin being the best player in the first half is debatable, but I'm not impressed with a simple swing pass to Harden in the corner for an easy assist. Anybody on this forum could have made that pass. You seem to give him a lot of credit for that as if the pass magically ignited Harden's ability to shoot the corner 3.

    The bottom line is anytime Lin isn't playing it's because the coaches don't respect him--it can't possibly be anything else! When McHale took him out in the 3Q he had played 28 out of 33 possible minutes of the game (again, how is this not a key part of the team?). He was probably gassed--which would explain his poor play. As coach, McHale knows his players and probably felt the best bet was to stick with Brooks who, despite his 1-8, did make a crucial three and threw in some assists, free throws, and hustle plays. Who can say what would have happened if Lin had come back in? Who cares? We won!

    As for how to train a player--that's how you would train a player. McHale has his own methods and so do lots of other coaches. Lin has improved a great deal since coming to Houston--but I'm sure that has nothing to do with our coaching staff, right? Why on Earth would they have a vested interest in Jeremy being the best he can be? :unsure:

    I can imagine when you tune in to watch not a team, but a single player, it can get frustrating when that player is on the bench. Again, the disconnect--it's not about Jeremy...at least not on a Houston Rockets Sports Forum.


    Well written response, JohnnyGold, I can't think of a single thing I would add to that!

    Makes me fired up already for the next Rockets game against our nemesis, the Lakers.
  • rocketrick says 8 months ago

    PG is a label to who runs the offense, it is not a defensive label. Defense is based on man-to-man, not position to position. The greatest PG of all time, Magic, hardly ever guarded the other teams PG, that was Michael Cooper's job.


    Very, very few teams in the history of the NBA have had a Michael Cooper that can guard the opposing team's PG while playing a different position on the offensive end of the court.
  • linonlyfan says 8 months ago

    Lin lost Beno Udrih multiple times in the 3rd Q for unforgivable scores including a out of bounds layup where instead of focusing on the play he was complaining to the ref about a turnover he committed prior to the play. Beno Udrih... Yes i though he looked good (productive not best) in the 1st half, but after that nope.

    As thejohnnygold pointed out, he was probably gassed. I don't like how close the game was at the end but the Rocket won. Watch the Lin interview post game and even he thinks that mattered far more than his benching. Im just glad AB somehow didn't get abused in the 4th, but i guess Beno Udrih didn't have anything that AB couldn't handle (or Lin... if his head hadn't fallen off)

    Anyway win or no win perimeter defense still is a problem.

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    As a LOF, I can say that as a whole the group does not want to get rid of Harden. We believe Harden is one of the best 2 guards in the game. We think that the Harden-Lin partnership can be something special if encouraged to develop. Isaiah Thomas thinks so, and so do a lot of basketball fans and analysts outside of the Houston area. We just think that Lin has proven that he's a really good player that should play starter's minutes and have a starter's leash when mistakes are made. The NYK game is a clear example of Lin not being treated as a key player on the team. He was the best player on the floor in the 1st half. He made some mistakes in the 3rd qtr, but also helped get Harden off with a couple of assists. Instead of benching him for the remainder of the game, why not give him a breather, coach him up and put him back in the 4th especially after he has had so many good 4th qtr performances? That's how you train a player and how you build a team over the course of a long season. That's really the gripe. Nothing more.

    Thank you for this--you stated your point very well.

    The disconnect comes from perspective and subjectivity. The majority of Houston fans are not concerned with an individual player's status, role, minutes, etc. We only care about the win column. I agree that Lin has plenty of talent. He has so much talent that the team has asked him to be their 6th man--a crucial role for any team with championship aspirations. He averages 30 mpg which is certainly more than the vast majority of "bench" players get. I just don't get the perception that Lin's move to 6th man is disrespectful. We're trying to win games not write scripts for Disney movies.

    I'm glad that Isaiah Thomas supports Lin. Unfortunately, I do not hold his basketball opinions in very high esteem so let's just move on from there.

    We will just have to agree to disagree about the "Lin is not treated as a key player" business. This goes back to the perspective and subjectivity thing. Lin being the best player in the first half is debatable, but I'm not impressed with a simple swing pass to Harden in the corner for an easy assist. Anybody on this forum could have made that pass. You seem to give him a lot of credit for that as if the pass magically ignited Harden's ability to shoot the corner 3.

    The bottom line is anytime Lin isn't playing it's because the coaches don't respect him--it can't possibly be anything else! When McHale took him out in the 3Q he had played 28 out of 33 possible minutes of the game (again, how is this not a key part of the team?). He was probably gassed--which would explain his poor play. As coach, McHale knows his players and probably felt the best bet was to stick with Brooks who, despite his 1-8, did make a crucial three and threw in some assists, free throws, and hustle plays. Who can say what would have happened if Lin had come back in? Who cares? We won!

    As for how to train a player--that's how you would train a player. McHale has his own methods and so do lots of other coaches. Lin has improved a great deal since coming to Houston--but I'm sure that has nothing to do with our coaching staff, right? Why on Earth would they have a vested interest in Jeremy being the best he can be? :unsure:

    I can imagine when you tune in to watch not a team, but a single player, it can get frustrating when that player is on the bench. Again, the disconnect--it's not about Jeremy...at least not on a Houston Rockets Sports Forum.

  • rm90025 says 8 months ago

    It is talk that has carried over from another thread. It started from some author's bold prediction. While I seriously doubt Harden goes anywhere, it is fun (at least to me) to consider what kind of move one could make with a player like him. I think most of the people who want to see Harden go have the ulterior motive of wanting to see Lin take his role on the team. It's a little bit "Single White Female" or "Hand That Rocks the Cradle" if you ask me :lol:

    As a LOF, I can say that as a whole the group does not want to get rid of Harden. We believe Harden is one of the best 2 guards in the game. We think that the Harden-Lin partnership can be something special if encouraged to develop. Isaiah Thomas thinks so, and so do a lot of basketball fans and analysts outside of the Houston area. We just think that Lin has proven that he's a really good player that should play starter's minutes and have a starter's leash when mistakes are made. The NYK game is a clear example of Lin not being treated as a key player on the team. He was the best player on the floor in the 1st half. He made some mistakes in the 3rd qtr, but also helped get Harden off with a couple of assists. Instead of benching him for the remainder of the game, why not give him a breather, coach him up and put him back in the 4th especially after he has had so many good 4th qtr performances? That's how you train a player and how you build a team over the course of a long season. That's really the gripe. Nothing more.

  • Steven says 8 months ago

    Nice post Johnny Gold except I would describe Lebron James as a Point Forward, not a PG. Lebron simply can't guard PG's like Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose, etc. for the entire game. That would absolutely drain much too much energy from Lebron effectively making him a much less impactful player on the offensive end of the court.

    PG is a label to who runs the offense, it is not a defensive label. Defense is based on man-to-man, not position to position. The greatest PG of all time, Magic, hardly ever guarded the other teams PG, that was Michael Cooper's job.
  • rocketrick says 8 months ago

    It is talk that has carried over from another thread. It started from some author's bold prediction. While I seriously doubt Harden goes anywhere, it is fun (at least to me) to consider what kind of move one could make with a player like him. I think most of the people who want to see Harden go have the ulterior motive of wanting to see Lin take his role on the team. It's a little bit "Single White Female" or "Hand That Rocks the Cradle" if you ask me :lol:

    As I'm sure that Hakeem thought it was quite fun to consider what moves some Rockets fans were demanding by trading him just prior to our back to back championships.

    Personally, I think it demeans our forum by talking about such outrageous and all but unlikely moves. I'm OK with discussing Harden for LeBron or Harden for Paul George. But Harden for Anthony Davis or Kevin Love or___________?? Sorry, I prefer players like Harden that can create their own offense and be a factor on defense (when applying themselves) over someone who is exceptionally dependent on a play designed for them to succeed, especially when it comes to the playoffs.

    It also gives great umbrage to those who are non-believers of our star players.

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    Nice post Johnny Gold except I would describe Lebron James as a Point Forward, not a PG. Lebron simply can't guard PG's like Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose, etc. for the entire game. That would absolutely drain much too much energy from Lebron effectively making him a much less impactful player on the offensive end of the court.

    Good point--I wasn't thinking about that side of it. That is exactly why a guy like Chalmers is such a nice fit for them at the PG position.

  • rocketrick says 8 months ago

    If you are referring to Wade's current Heat team then you know their PG is named Lebron James. Further, they also run a fast-paced ball movement system that spreads the assists out pretty evenly. James, Wade, and Chalmers all average 5+ assists with Allen and Cole coming in with a few per game as well.

    Nice post Johnny Gold except I would describe Lebron James as a Point Forward, not a PG. Lebron simply can't guard PG's like Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose, etc. for the entire game. That would absolutely drain much too much energy from Lebron effectively making him a much less impactful player on the offensive end of the court.

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    Why is this even being discussed then (trading Harden)??????????

    It is talk that has carried over from another thread. It started from some author's bold prediction. While I seriously doubt Harden goes anywhere, it is fun (at least to me) to consider what kind of move one could make with a player like him. I think most of the people who want to see Harden go have the ulterior motive of wanting to see Lin take his role on the team. It's a little bit "Single White Female" or "Hand That Rocks the Cradle" if you ask me :lol:

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    Agreed, when did wades heat, Kobe's lakers, or Jordan's bulls ever have a true pass first PG. Get the memo?

    That's a good point, but it ignores a key element---the triangle offense. In a system like this, a pass-first PG is not necessary. In fact, a shoot-first PG would be more desirable given the other personnel (Kobe, MJ, Shaq, Pippen). Hence, guys like Paxson, Kerr, Harper, and Fisher all excelled playing in these systems.

    Wade's Heat featured Jason Williams (White Chocolate) and Gary Payton at the PG position. Williams was an excellent passer--especially in Miami as he had cut out the showboating. The Heat were also a ridiculously good defensive squad with Shaq, Mourning, Wade, Posey, and Haslem...I left off Payton because he just wasn't the same guy he was in Seattle.

    If you are referring to Wade's current Heat team then you know their PG is named Lebron James. Further, they also run a fast-paced ball movement system that spreads the assists out pretty evenly. James, Wade, and Chalmers all average 5+ assists with Allen and Cole coming in with a few per game as well.

    The point isn't that Houston "needs" a pass-first PG to win a championship. There is a difference between a dribble-penetration guard who can slash through the lane and still manage to get a shot off or whip a pass to the corner and the kind of guard who can navigate comfortably into traffic while maintaining what seems like an impossible 360 degree court vision and is able to find guys for easy shots in a sea of moving giants. These guys can bend the defense to their liking. They are rare. I think a player like that would elevate our team.

    Given enough time and practice, I do believe our current guys can learn to make it work by implementing a style similar to what Miami uses. We've seen the numbers. In crunch time this group gets stagnant on offense. We make it easy on the defense by taking shots with low percentages and running little, if any, sort of play to try and get a better look. I'd say watch Chris Paul close out a game....but we're going to need to wait a month for that :( .

  • rocketrick says 8 months ago

    You're reading way too much into the whole harden trade thing. Wade was the driving force of the heats run in 06, while shaq was a dominant force in the early 2000s with Kobe. Harden does have a dominant big man as well in Howard we will see how that progresses the next few years.

    Why is this even being discussed then (trading Harden)??????????

  • Cooper says 8 months ago You're reading way too much into the whole harden trade thing. Wade was the driving force of the heats run in 06, while shaq was a dominant force in the early 2000s with Kobe. Harden does have a dominant big man as well in Howard we will see how that progresses the next few years.
  • rocketrick says 8 months ago

    wade Kobe and Jordan were quite a bit better than where harden currently is at.

    DWade and Kobe won their first NBA titles with Shaq as the big man in the middle. Did Shaq play a larger role in winning those titles or did DWade and Kobe? No doubt in my mind DWade was the more valuable player in 2006 but Shaq was clearlythe more valuable player when Kobe won his first titles.

    MJ didn't win his first title until he was 28. Harden just turned 24 in August.

    Still, I give you much credit for daring to compare our James Harden with the likes of a DWade, Kobe and MJ. Rare company indeed!

    Just makes me wonder that much more why you are even discussing the possibility of trading James Harden at this early stage in his career (just turned 24 and 1/3 of the way through his second season as a starter in the NBA)???

  • Cooper says 8 months ago

    Agreed, when did wades heat, Kobe's lakers, or Jordan's bulls ever have a true pass first PG. Get the memo?

    wade Kobe and Jordan were quite a bit better than where harden currently is at.
  • rocketrick says 8 months ago

    I can't wait till the day Lin is out of Houston. McHale said "That group got us back in the game. I felt like I'd let them go".. BS

    I have always been a proponent of Jeremy Lin on this board.

    So, I totally agree that Coach McHale made the best choice to stick with the 5 guys (D12, Harden, Parsons, AB and Cisco Kid)that got us back in the game because of the importance of defensive stops. The Knicks only shot 25% in the 4th quarter and I believe it is because the guys that were on the floor were very solid with their rotations.

    I believe the LOF's need to take a breath and realize that NBA basketball is aTEAM game. You guys (and gals) are reading WAY too much into McHale's rotations and player decisions. Just because Lin sits the 4th quarter doesn't have anything to do with McHale hating him and loving someone else more.

    Lin will get similar opportunities in 4th quarters offuture games as he has in past games where he is the most effective PG on BOTH ends of the court.

    Coach Rudy used to do this all the time, ride the guys that were kicking it into gear in the 4th quarter. Sometimes Cassell finished the game, sometimes Kenny Smith finished the game.

    What matters the most is not how many minutes individual players get, but WINS.

  • Buckko says 8 months ago Agreed, when did wades heat, Kobe's lakers, or Jordan's bulls ever have a true pass first PG. Get the memo?
  • BrentYen says 8 months ago Well, this team does not need a PG.
  • MrLobble says 8 months ago

    this team still needs a true point guard!

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    I prefer to focus on the Rockets winning and not Jeremy Lin's minutes. I hope nobody is offended by the video I posted above--I thought it was amusing. I googled "leave jeremy lin alone" (a la Chris Crocker (NSFW)), because that is how it feels sometimes reading post game reactions, and it popped right up like clockwork.

    I'll say this for Brooks--he was able to get the ball to Dwight quickly and in good position...not that they did much of that in the 4th quarter either...Howard took one shot in the last period (technically two but he got fouled on one and made his free throws).

    When our offense bogs down late in games I'd like to see us start feeding Dwight in the post for a change. Working on the perimeter is producing too many bad shots and turnovers the way we run the offense (although Harden did nail two nice shots this game). The opposing team may choose to hack him, but that's fine. Tyson Chandler only had three fouls to give and would have been on the bench in no time.

  • Steven says 8 months ago Of course McHale should have let the team on the court stay on the court. +13 is worthy of being left alone, unless you are talking game changers.
  • rm90025 says 8 months ago

    In terms of PG play, I did think that to start the game Lin did a very good job on Udrih (although part of this was that Udrih never seemed to attack out of the pick-and-roll in the early going). However, when Murry came in in the second quarter he did a much better job of jetting off picks and getting into the lane with a head of steam. Lin was really struggling to contain him properly. When Udrih came back in the second half, he seemed to have taken some advice to be more aggressive, and as the game went on I thought Udrih started to get the upper hand.

    At the end of the day that analysis is probably moot since the Knicks were revolving completely around Carmelo towards the end of the game and defence on Udrih was not a huge priority. Given the way the offence was being run by Harden, you probably want to put your best three point shooter next to him to be ready for last minute kick-outs, and right now that's Brooks rather than Lin.

    ST

    Lin was the guy who delivered those big 3 pt shots against Memphis and New Orleans. Lin is one of the best percentage shooters on the team.I think it's fair to point out that a lot of coaches would've gone back to Lin in Q4 with his track record.

  • sli says 8 months ago

    In fairness, Howard had been benched by McHale for the 4th quarter in one game too. Howard laughed it off by claiming that he told McHale to keep D-Mo in. Lin should learn from Howard and doesn't waste his mental energy on what McHale was trying to imply.

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    ...and this well-written article on the Jeremy Lin phenomenon

    ....and to add to Sir Thursday's observations...Lin was 0-2 with 2 turnovers and a foul in 9 minutes in the third quarter on top of the defensive problems.

  • Sir Thursday says 8 months ago

    In terms of PG play, I did think that to start the game Lin did a very good job on Udrih (although part of this was that Udrih never seemed to attack out of the pick-and-roll in the early going). However, when Murry came in in the second quarter he did a much better job of jetting off picks and getting into the lane with a head of steam. Lin was really struggling to contain him properly. When Udrih came back in the second half, he seemed to have taken some advice to be more aggressive, and as the game went on I thought Udrih started to get the upper hand.

    At the end of the day that analysis is probably moot since the Knicks were revolving completely around Carmelo towards the end of the game and defence on Udrih was not a huge priority. Given the way the offence was being run by Harden, you probably want to put your best three point shooter next to him to be ready for last minute kick-outs, and right now that's Brooks rather than Lin.

    ST

  • Knickabokkaz says 8 months ago

    The Rockets were lucky to win. The Knicks had a chance to win and should've won the game but for JR Smith's really bad decision making .Howard had limited touches and the Knicks' tall front line (three 7 footers!) owned the glass it seemed.

    Although it has happened too often in his1 1/2 years with the Rockets, Jeremy Lin was inexplicably benched for the entirety of the 4th quarter despite having had a good game, as Aaron Brooks went 1-8 from the field. For as well asLin has played in the 4th quarter, this benching might've been the writing on the wall moment for his future in Houston. The Lin for Deng trade rumors continues to swirl on the web, and this decision by McHale tells me that once Beverley gets back, they'lllook to makethat trade if Chicago maintainsits interest.

    I can't wait till the day Lin is out of Houston. McHale said "That group got us back in the game. I felt like I'd let them go".. BS

  • rm90025 says 8 months ago

    The Rockets were lucky to win. The Knicks had a chance to win and should've won the game but for JR Smith's really bad decision making .Howard had limited touches and the Knicks' tall front line (three 7 footers!) owned the glass it seemed.

    Although it has happened too often in his1 1/2 years with the Rockets, Jeremy Lin was inexplicably benched for the entirety of the 4th quarter despite having had a good game, as Aaron Brooks went 1-8 from the field. For as well asLin has played in the 4th quarter, this benching might've been the writing on the wall moment for his future in Houston. The Lin for Deng trade rumors continues to swirl on the web, and this decision by McHale tells me that once Beverley gets back, they'lllook to makethat trade if Chicago maintainsits interest.

    As for the Rockets, they seem to have slipped behind Golden St and might be a #6 seed at best.Of the top 8 teams in the west, they're the one teamthat hasthe least cohesion, most chemistry problems, andno clear offensive philosophy or identity. They might have the most talent of any team in the western conference,though, so if they ever do figure it out they could go on a 20-2 run to end the season.

  • PKM says 8 months ago

    I view this as the Sacramento game all over again. Only this time, we weren't quite as terrible at the free throw line.

    So basically, I'm not happy about this game at all.

    That said, since it is inevitably going to be a storyline from this game, I'll pre-empt the Lin thing with this tweet:

    https://twitter.com/Jonathan_Feigen/status/419321028318199809

  • Red94 says 8 months ago New post: Houston Rockets 100, New York Knicks 98 - All's Well That Ends Well
    By: Rob Dover

    Coming off a disappointing loss to Sacramento, this was a key game for the Rockets to get back on track. Some bad habits have been forming that it would have been nice to see broken, but more important was to get a win to stop the team from sliding any further down the Western Conference standings. They weren't perfect, and they left it late, but eventually they hung on for an important win.

    • In what is by now a very familiar trend, Harden decided to monopolize the ball in the clutch. They had stretched the lead up to 5, but on repeated possessions he ran the clock down without getting a good shot out of it. While watching this game, it occurred to me that there are two types of Harden isolations. In the good, acceptable ones he faces up his defender prior to using his dribble and keeps his head up. Often these end up with him whipping the ball to a team-mate whose defender has cheated off him slightly too much, but he can also work out of the triple threat to get the step on his defender. In the bad type of isolation, he tends to have a live dribble. In that situation, he is much less likely to consider passing, and especially in late-game situations he has a tendency to go for fancy side-to-side dribbles instead of wriggling his way towards the rim. Unfortunately the late game possessions were more of the latter type, and we saw the perils of that approach when he accidentally dribbled the ball off his foot and was lucky not to give the Knicks a fast break.
    • It's worth bearing in mind - you have to balance any criticism of Harden with an acknowledgement that he pretty much single-handedly kept the Rockets' offence going in the second half of this game. He finished with 37 points and 6 assists, and there were stretches of the game where he seemed to be the only player capable of making a shot. The timely threes and trips to the line are a huge asset to the team and in my mind it's worth taking the bad with the good. It's just frustrating given that there's no good reason that you couldn't keep the positives and get rid of the negatives.
    • Despite the hero-ball, the Rockets were able to come away with the victory. This was thanks to a combination of actually getting some stops in the late game for once and some terrible decision making from the Knicks. A few weeks ago Bargnani was rightly pilloried for launching a three when all he had to do was hold onto the ball. You would have thought that the team would have learned its lesson from that, but apparently not. With 20 seconds left on the clock and the scores tied at 100, the Knicks corralled an offensive rebound. All they had to do was hold for the last shot, but instead they passed the ball to JR Smith at the top of the arc who promptly missed a three. The Rockets got the board and to compound the error, a foul while fighting for the ball put Brooks on the line. So instead of having the last shot and a chance to win the game in regulation, the Knicks got the ball back with 17 seconds and needing to score to avoid losing. A huge swing and a lucky break in the Rockets' favour.
    • There's not much you can do about Carmelo - despite playing on a sprained ankle he was too good in the post for Parsons. What you can do, however, is keep tabs on the Knicks' outside shooters. The Rockets started out doing this very well - I was impressed initially by the extra attention the defenders seemed to be paying to their men on the perimeter. However, as the game wore on that effort started to lapse and shooters started to get free. Iman Shumpert took special advantage of the freedom he was afforded as he buried 6 of 6 outside shots (all of them open). Sometimes shooters get hot, but here the Rockets gave him so much space it was not particularly surprising that he made a high percentage and this inattention was a huge part of why the game was close down the stretch.
    • Once again it felt like Howard did not get enough touches in the post. He was rarely saw the ball in the second half, and with the offence generally looking anaemic he should probably have been fed a bit more often.
    • On a related note, it was good to see Greg Smith back in the rotation. I've been a bit concerned by some of the minute totals Howard has been putting up in past games (even with Smith, he still had 38 minutes tonight), but hopefully McHale will be able to rejig the rotation in future games to keep Dwight's minutes a little lower.
    • Harden kept trying to throw a lob to Terrence Jones in the first half. The first few times it was slow and telegraphed and the Knicks had defenders in place to snuff it out. It doesn't look like a good option in the half court set, but when they tried it on the fast break it connected rather well. Perhaps it's something they've been practising in their days off?