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Houston Rockets 101, Orlando Magic 89 – A win is a win

As it turns out, the people of Orlando don’t seem to like Dwight Howard very much. He may feel that time heals all wounds, but if that’s the case then Orlando Florida needs at least another year for that black eye to heal up. The boos erupted every time he touched the ball, and for a while his old team got the better of him. The Magic built up a 14 point lead in the second quarter and looked like they believed they could steal a win from another top playoff team.

Unfortunately for them, their prodigal son came back in the third quarter with a surprise of his own. Chandler Parsons, native of the Orlando metro area, put his foot on the gas and helped the Rockets turn that deficit into a lead which eventually ballooned out of Orlando’s control. It wasn’t a pretty game, and it wasn’t a win Houston can hang their hat on, but it was a win nonetheless. With a pile of brutal teams waiting for the next weeks and a half, the Rockets have to be happy to come away with any wins they can.

Chandler Parsons may have blitzed the Magic in the third quarter, but it was James Harden who took over the game. He looked like the superstar Houston hoped for, hitting 11 of his 19 shots for a game-high 31 points. He didn’t miss a single free throw, dished 6 assists and had 3 turnovers, a number which is decent considering his usual rate and the sheer number of giveaways for the team. Harden and the Rockets in general turned it on in the second half, and that’s exactly what they have to do if they want to win the games they’re supposed to.

The Rockets wouldn’t have had to come out big in the second half, however, if they hadn’t allowed the first half to get out of control. Given the intense game the previous night and the travel to Orlando, given the Magic’s record, it’s not strange for Houston to looks disinterested and slow to start out. Earlier in this season, the Rockets rolled over in similar games and declined to try. Playing down to lesser opponents had been an ongoing issue, and for half the game it showed back up. Thankfully, the Rockets seem to have done some maturing over the winter, and they picked up their hustle and grit to finish off the game.

The Magic played a physical game, whether they intended to or not, and several Houston body parts felt the brunt. Terrence Jones keeled over after getting his groin keelhauled on a drive to the basket, but was fine. Patrick Beverley had to get a noseful of cotton to stanch the flow of blood after getting elbowed in the face. Jeremy Lin got Tackled by Kyle O’Quinn, and Donatas Motiejunas nearly got knocked out by a blow to the jaw. This continues to be a sticking point for the Rockets, who seem to have trouble dealing with physical play. Whether it was a factor of young players being out of control or a concerted effort, Houston managed to power through and take back the lead.

If Harden gets the game ball, Jeremy Lin gets the opposite. Is the sweat mop the opposite of the game ball? That’s what Lin gets for his 1-4 shooting night. Jordan Hamilton also went 1-4, but he contributed at least a little bit with 4 rebounds, a steal and a block to go with his acceptable defense and high hustle. Lin is a much larger part of the team’s plans, and as such he simply has to get more active on both sides of the ball. 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 turnovers just aren’t good enough peripheral stats, even given that he only played 15 minutes. Lin looks timid and unsure for some reason, and he needs to get his groove back if the Rockets hope to make the conference finals.

That, after all, is what’s on the table. The Rockets now have to prove that not only are they in the conversation at this point, but that they’re near the top of the list. Beating the Heat was a statement, and each successive game has to be an exclamation point to go with it, now. Losing to the Magic simply wasn’t an option, even though four months ago it would have been. It wasn’t a pretty game, or a good game, or even a game to take much pride in, but it was a win. When winning is all that matters, all that mattered about that game was that it was a win.

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Total comments: 16
  • Willk says 7 months ago

    The Rockets have to be careful about how they lean on Harden. The problem with his style of play is that it tends to get the other 4 players standing and watching. It seems to me that he converts so many of those tough drives and gets whistles with regularity, so the other guys are lulled into a confidence that they don't need to move once he makes his move. It's like Kobe and the Lakers. Too often the other guys are just standing around and watching. Most of the time, it's fine and dandy when Harden is the one making the play.

    The issue is that when Lin makes those similar types of drives, no one else moves with him. I think that's a contributing factor to at least a few of Lin's turnovers. Unlike Harden, when Lin drives into the paint and collapses the defenses he needs an out, so other players should be following him to the hole. He doesn't get the same calls as Harden so those types of plays don't result in as many free throws. With no movement, Lin is forced to pivot looking for a guy fighting to get open, but more often than not, they are just standing around. Lin has proven that he can dish with the best of them, but his teammates have to be ready to move and catch the ball with him.

    Lin needs to cut down on the jump passes, period, but his teammates can alleviate the issue by diving into the paint with him. Mostly, he just needs to get his health and mojo back like earlier in the season when he was driving at will. His confidence seems to be shook, which is understandable given his yoyo minutes.

    Lin needs to step up or lose his place in the rotation. it is not McHale's fault. It is not Lin's teammates fault. It is ALL LIN.

  • RocketsRob says 7 months ago

    The Rockets have to be careful about how they lean on Harden. The problem with his style of play is that it tends to get the other 4 players standing and watching. It seems to me that he converts so many of those tough drives and gets whistles with regularity, so the other guys are lulled into a confidence that they don't need to move once he makes his move. It's like Kobe and the Lakers. Too often the other guys are just standing around and watching. Most of the time, it's fine and dandy when Harden is the one making the play.

    The issue is that when Lin makes those similar types of drives, no one else moves with him. I think that's a contributing factor to at least a few of Lin's turnovers. Unlike Harden, when Lin drives into the paint and collapses the defenses he needs an out, so other players should be following him to the hole. He doesn't get the same calls as Harden so those types of plays don't result in as many free throws. With no movement, Lin is forced to pivot looking for a guy fighting to get open, but more often than not, they are just standing around. Lin has proven that he can dish with the best of them, but his teammates have to be ready to move and catch the ball with him.

    Lin needs to cut down on the jump passes, period, but his teammates can alleviate the issue by diving into the paint with him. Mostly, he just needs to get his health and mojo back like earlier in the season when he was driving at will. His confidence seems to be shook, which is understandable given his yoyo minutes.

  • Steven says 7 months ago

    Why will Lin lose his job because of that? The way Lin drove and did a pivot in the game. I think he was trying to cut down his TOVs. But he actually did the opposite. Elite PGs will just take the shot or swing the ball before getting stuck.

    Because Canaan will prove to be a better player.
  • BrentYen says 7 months ago

    Why will Lin lose his job because of that? The way Lin drove and did a pivot in the game. I think he was trying to cut down his TOVs. But he actually did the opposite. Elite PGs will just take the shot or swing the ball before getting stuck.

  • Steven says 7 months ago

    I think it's obvious that Lin's playing hurt--the Chronicle says it's his back, and he's having exactly the same issues he had after he hurt his back running into Milsap early in the season. I wish they'd sit him to let him recover, but obviously with the tough stretch coming up and the fight for playoff position, he's toughing it out. I think Lin ought to get more credit for trying to help the team, but in the meantime, why not give Canaan some minutes too while Lin recovers? I think he could handle 15 minutes a game--he looks pretty confident out there.

    Lin doesn't want to sit. He knows once Canaan starts playing, that Lin will lose his job. No player wants to be Wally Pipped.
  • Alituro says 7 months ago

    It's not about the number of his turnovers. It's about the turnover's process. He always did the same thing, driving to the paint then jump or pick up his drible with no plan. I prefer to see him to shoot the ball than pass the ball to nowhere. He did it almost every games he played...

    I always critize his play because i believe he can be a good player. He should learn through it.

    This is and has always been my biggest beef with Lin's play. I'd much rather him take the shot. The turnovers that result are not a product of buttery hands in the big men, they are a product of bad passes. Bad shots are better than bad passes. If he could cut this middle school stuff out of his arsenal, I think we will see his criticisms abate along with it. But, until then... We should try inserting Canaan in at times, just to see. Particularly in games where we build a sizable 1st quarter lead.

  • Bigtkirk says 7 months ago

    Rockets win a back-to-back while committing a total of 40 TO's. If they can cut that by even a third, they will be really tough to handle.

    Lighten up on the PG play, folks. Remember, they are both still finding their way in the NBA. Lin is currently battling through back problems and Beverley's nose was broken during the game last night. They aren't elite level PG's, but they bring talents to the table that complement the rest of the team well.

  • Dayak says 7 months ago Double post. I'm sorry.
  • Dayak says 7 months ago It's not about the number of his turnovers. It's about the turnover's process. He always did the same thing, driving to the paint then jump or pick up his drible with no plan. I prefer to see him to shoot the ball than pass the ball to nowhere. He did it almost every games he played...

    I always critize his play because i believe he can be a good player. He should learn through it.
  • RocketsRob says 7 months ago

    What I've noticed is that Lin is almost always the scapegoat while most of the other players get a pass. He has some horrible turnovers, nobody is denying that. But most of his turnovers are because he's being overly unselfish. He's trying to drive and dish to guys like Asik and DMo who don't have the best hands down low. If he had more PT with Howard don't you guys think he might convert a few more of those passes and have less TOs?

    True, Beverley didn't have any turnovers tonight, and he's really good about holding onto the ball, but he also not making any playmaking passes either. And except for the last few games, the opposing PG almost never has to play any D because Beverley's not really an offensive threat from either a passing or a driving perspective. Between Harden not playing much D and Bev's limited offense, the Rox are putting about 4.5 players out there. It's worked so far against some of the weaker opponents, but come playoff time, we're going to need a full team.

    I think overvaluing Bev's D might come back to bite us later, when he fouls out of critical games where we do need him to be disruptive. Not to mention putting the opponent in the penalty prematurely.

    McHale's going to have to start getting the bench in order and that starts with getting them some reps in these games that should be total blowouts. We're going to need a dependable bench and like it or not, the key to their success is Lin. A confident and healthy Lin is a game changer off the bench.

    Just my opinion.

  • kevingan says 7 months ago

    I just noticed that I unknowingly repeated what was in the shout box about Lin and Canaan tonight--sorry to waste bandwidth, though I hope it's a case of great minds think alike!

  • kevingan says 7 months ago

    I think it's obvious that Lin's playing hurt--the Chronicle says it's his back, and he's having exactly the same issues he had after he hurt his back running into Milsap early in the season. I wish they'd sit him to let him recover, but obviously with the tough stretch coming up and the fight for playoff position, he's toughing it out. I think Lin ought to get more credit for trying to help the team, but in the meantime, why not give Canaan some minutes too while Lin recovers? I think he could handle 15 minutes a game--he looks pretty confident out there.

  • Buckko says 7 months ago

    Time to fix the bench which I mean by dumping lin in the offseason. Turnovers and miss-open shots don't do us any good, should've kept dragic.

  • MrLobble says 7 months ago

    Did you guys not notice the disruptions Bev caused in the 2nd half??

  • RocketsRob says 7 months ago

    Forrest, you're wrong. The mop should go to Beverley.32 minutes, 4 pts, 1-8 overall, 0-4 from three, 0 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 0 TOs and 5 PF. Lin was a big part of the reason they got back in the game to start the second period. He showed a glimmer of the attacking style that benefits him, and he was actually able to initiate the offense for a few plays. He didn't play fantastic, but he deserved more minutes considering Beverley wasn't doing anything but racking up fouls.

  • RedScare says 7 months ago

    Scary game tonight for the rockets in the first half. Everyone was making mistakes, Lin and Hamilton cooling down a lot is continually worrying me, but what caught my eye today was Beverly on the offensive side. I didn't notice because most of his shots were catch and shoot, but 4 points... 1-8 shooting... 0-4 from deep which is a huge difference from the 19 last night. A lot of people including give enormous credit to Pat (he deserves a lot of it), but barely mention his pitfalls. I've now noticed that both of our point guards have been continually inconsistent on the offensive side, Lin more than Pat as of late. However as Lin can't shoot anything, Patrick can barely drive and attack the rim which is very disconcerting for a conference finals run with the Western Conference full of great point guards. Hopefully both will return to the synergy they had against Cleveland.

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