Houston Rockets 101, Milwaukee Bucks 95 – Shaking the rust off

The Milwaukee Bucks aren’t a very good basketball team. At 9-40 heading into tonight’s matchup with the Houston Rockets, they laid claim to the worst record in the NBA, and in the anemic Eastern Conference, no less. It’s possible that there’s a worse team in the league, and that’s a fairly charitable thing to say. With Ömer Aşık returning to action in Milwaukee, with the Rockets on a four game winning streak, with the team playing better than it has in a long while, it should come as no surprise that the Rockets very nearly lost the game. When inconsistency is the only constant, sometimes a win is just a win. After week-long period in which the Rockets only played one game, sometimes there’s some rust. And after a two-month-long injury, sometimes a player like Ömer Aşık has some rust of his own.

So, what of Ömer? How did he fare in his first game back? The answer is largely that he barely played. He saw the floor for eleven minutes, matching the time when Dwight Howard rested. He attempted no shots in that time, grabbed five boards and picked up two assists. He also changed a few shots, but that was mostly during his second six-minute stint. He looked a little slow and a little ungainly, even by his standards. Aşık seemed to get more comfortable as he played, but is clearly not exactly in game shape and will take a little while to get back up to twenty or so minutes per game. It was far from his best performance, but it was also a surprisingly hard job with the aggression of Zaza Pachulia and Nate Wolters. It wasn’t perfect, but it’s worthy of a sigh of relief. There’s a backup center again.

Dwight Howard absolutely took over the game, and his post play has only been improving. He continues to dominate opposing big men down low, this time going for 27 points on 11-19 shooting. Nobody could stop him except for himself, and he was quick to attack mismatches down low. His rebound game was solid as ever, with him pulling down 13 of them. The team suffered on the offensive side, however, with the Bucks outdoing the Rockets 14-6 on the offensive glass. In fact, if there’s one reason the game was closer than 10 points, that’s the prime candidate. Milwaukee got plenty of second chances, but Dwight wasn’t the one giving them up. It’s hard to have many qualms with his game, at this point.

James Harden, however, didn’t look quite as good. It’s as if his shooting efficiency is controlled by a pendulum, swinging back and forth every other game. After some quality play against Phoenix, Harden couldn’t buy a foul call in Milwaukee. He shot a paltry 4 shots from the line, and this went along with a poor night overall for him. He scored 22 points, missed 8 of his 9 three point attempts, but went 8-12 otherwise. His peripherals were similarly up and down, with 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 turnovers but 4 steals. Harden has earned a few passes on the offensive end, however, and given how laid back the Rockets looked for much of the game, there’s not really much to take away there.

The point guards, however, looked as good as ever. The chronically overworking Patrick Beverley and Jeremy Lin went full speed and picked up two very nice lines. Beverley played 30 minutes, in which he shot 50% from the field, scored 15 points, had 3 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, 3 blocks (!) and no turnovers. That steal was also particularly noteworthy, as it was another of his patented “literally take the ball out of his hands” steals. Lin, for his part, played for 28 minutes and looked aggressive throughout. He shot 8-15, had 18 points. 4 assists and 2 steals. His 2 turnovers was a good number for him, especially given how often he attacked the rim.

Hopefully, the center position will come to resemble the point guard situation. While Beverley and Lin may not be world-beaters, both of them are able to play for limited minutes and increase their efficacy. Both are always fresh, and if head coach Kevin McHale wanted to, he could drop Aaron Brooks into the mix to further rest the two. With Ömer Aşık back, Both he and Dwight Howard should be able to stay fresh and aggressive on both sides of the court with Houston dropping only slightly in overall performance when Dwight sits down. Once Greg Smith returns to the rotation, he should be able to play the same role as Brooks.

There’s not a lot to take away from a game where the Rockets look groggy and just starting to get back on track. They won, they got back Ömer Aşık and Donatas Motiejunas hit 4-5 shots. The streak has extended to five games, and the Rockets now have a day to get to Minneapolis to face the Timberwolves on Monday. That matchup should be a lot more meaningful and a lot more informative than an early vacation day before the All-Star break.

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Total comments: 16
  • MrLobble says 2 months ago

    I'm dying!!! hahahaha ^^^

    On another note, I've become addicted to following Dwight's latest overload of Instagram pics and videos lately... I find them real interesting. This team appears like they really like each other both on and off the court, and hopefully the chemistry can continue to improve!!

  • thejohnnygold says 2 months ago

    Some fan posted this to the interwebs...thought others would enjoy. Personally, I think he nailed them both.

  • Buckko says 2 months ago Hey we're #8 at defense right now and with asik getting back, we can only go up. Still I don't understand people who insult the rockets about D.
  • bladad says 2 months ago

    I was at the game in MIL. Harden looked engaged on D. He was doing things he definitely wasn't doing early in the year. At least when his jumper wasn't falling he was finding other ways to make an impact. My favorite play of the game was a TO by the Rockets ahead of Harden. He sprinted back to catch up and force a 2 on 1. I think he ended up stopping the Bucks from scoring, I'm not sure, but that didn't matter to me, what mattered is that he cared enough defensively to try to make a play.

    HARDEN+DEFENSE = I DON'T BELIEVE YOU!

    Just kidding.

    Great to see him putting in the effort on the defensive end. The team defense is going to be so much better if he keeps that level of play up on his less preferred side of the floor.

  • feelingsupersonic says 2 months ago Thanks for the update Ostrow and good to hear from you. That's cool you caught a Rockets game.
  • Ostrow says 2 months ago

    I was at the game in MIL. Harden looked engaged on D. He was doing things he definitely wasn't doing early in the year. At least when his jumper wasn't falling he was finding other ways to make an impact. My favorite play of the game was a TO by the Rockets ahead of Harden. He sprinted back to catch up and force a 2 on 1. I think he ended up stopping the Bucks from scoring, I'm not sure, but that didn't matter to me, what mattered is that he cared enough defensively to try to make a play.

  • thejohnnygold says 2 months ago

    Thanks! I had never heard of that before. Interesting that it is an offense oriented stat and Asik excelled at it.

  • Dayak says 2 months ago What's going on with you Rocketrick? :)
    Btw, can't wait to see another win at Minny.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 2 months ago http://basketball.realgm.com/info/glossary
  • thejohnnygold says 2 months ago

    richard-sherman-elite-daily-600x300.jpg

    ^<<>>>>>^

    I'm just kidding. That did come out of left field a little bit.

    Also, I do not know what a FIC40 score is. :(

  • rocketrick says 2 months ago Oh yes, I am out of sorts simply because I speak the truth...........
  • timetodienow1234567 says 2 months ago Are you ok? You seem a little out of sorts.
  • rocketrick says 2 months ago Morey is terrible..............He should have WEEKS ago traded D12 for detritus and forced McHale and the Rockets to place Asik back in the starting lineup BECAUSE....................I have yet to figure out why, but I'm certain many members on this forum will have the precise reason to do so............
  • rocketrick says 2 months ago The One Who Has Yet To Prove He Can Catch A Simple Pass at The Rim For A DUNK..............
  • rocketrick says 2 months ago

    Asik's FIC40 score was 19 in this game, third best on the team behind Howard and Beverley. I'll take that for the first game back after a couple of months off.
    How did D-Mo manage just one rebound in almost 25 minutes?


    Exactly Dude, let's trade DeMo YESTERDAY and sign our Big Giant off the Bench Who Plays Whenever and if he looks forward to, or wants, to Play...........Max Dollars....................YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Bigtkirk says 2 months ago

    Asik's FIC40 score was 19 in this game, third best on the team behind Howard and Beverley. I'll take that for the first game back after a couple of months off.

    How did D-Mo manage just one rebound in almost 25 minutes?