Houston Rockets 105, Golden State Warriors 83 – All defense, no threes

The Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors combined to hit 8 three pointers is 44 tries. That’s a total of 18%: 2-16 for Golden State and 6-28 for Houston. That’s a horrible, grim, coma-inducing number for any team, let alone a combination of two of the most avid and most accurate three point shooting teams in the league. Judging from three pointers alone, one might surmise that the game was a sloppy, ugly clank-fest on both sides. Well, one, you surmised incorrectly. The three point shot might have gone, but the defense and the mental intensity showed up instead.

Here’s an interesting sentence that I get to write: James Harden did a great job shutting down Klay Thompson. James Harden was locked in defensively all night, and along with Dwight Howard’s excellent rim protection was critical in holding the explosive Warriors to a mere 83 points. The good news is that the Rockets showed that many of their defensive problems can  be linked to a matter of focus. The bad news is that they don’t seem willing or able to focus as much as they need to every single game.

Perhaps the return of Chandler Parsons helped key in the defense. Parsons was back in the lineup again, and the team responded better with him on the court. He’s a far better creator than Francisco Garcia,and the starting lineup clearly works better on offense with Parsons in the mix. He may only have shot 3-13 on the night (for 8 points), but his 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals easily made up for it.

The suddenly-defensively-skilled James Harden piled on the points instead, scoring 34 on 22 shots, grabbing 7 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal, a block and his requisite 4 turnovers. Harden was passing happily in this game, and that seems to be the hallmark of his more dominating performances. When he only looks to score, teams can zero in on him and make him pay. On nights like this, when he looks to make the assist, teams are forced to account for Houston’s secondary weapons. That’s when Harden strikes, and strike he did, repeatedly and viciously. Early in the game, Harden threw down a nasty one-handed breakaway slam that set the tone for the whole evening. The Rockets were proving a point.

Dwight Howard proved him own point, and he did it at the stripe. He hit 12 of his 20 free throws, a number which was only good because of context. Warriors head coach Mark Jackson went to a smite-a-Dwight strategy in the third quarter, and Rockets head coach Kevin McHale chose to leave the big man in the game. Howard made good on that choice by hitting three of four free throws in one stretch and only extending Houston’s already sizable lead. Howard ended the night on 5-8 shooting for 22 points and dragged down a massive pile of 18 rebounds. Dwight looked like the Dwight Houston was hoping for against the Warriors.

Terrence Jones, for his part, had a quietly excellent game, another double double. He racked up 16 points ant 10 rebounds, a line that would have been exultant for him a mere month ago. Now, it’s just a Friday. Terrence Jones might be the biggest positive surprise for the Rockets, and his development is both surprising and needed. This level of play from him helps the Rockets look like a legitimate contender.

The Warriors, however, didn’t look like the Warriors. Stephen Curry ended with 22 points on 14 shots, but he missed 9 of those shots and went 1-5 from downtown. Klay Thompson, the other half of the so-called “super splash brothers” ended the night with a mortifying 5 points on 2-10 shooting and failed to hit a single three pointer. Andrew Bogut couldn’t contain Dwight Howard, and the Warriors’ starting center had to sit with fouls early and often. Golden State is still missing Andre Iguodala, and his return will mean a marked improvement for the team, but they have plenty to think about in the meantime.

McHale, for his part, left starters in far longer than he should have, presumably due to watching the recent Warriors-Raptors game in which the Warriors stormed back from a 27 point deficit in the third quarter to win by 9. If there’s one team that a 20+ point lead feels shaky against, t’s the Warriors, a team which can heat up to supernova levels at any moment.

The Rockets had the bounce-back game they needed against a team they needed to beat. One of the only teams that the Rockets actually claim rivalry with, the Golden State Warriors came out flat against a much-improved Rockets defense. When Patrick Beverley got a tip-in on his own free throw miss (via a tip by Dwight), the game was already over. The Rockets might not know how to give the 90-or-so percent the long regular season demands, but they can definitely amp it up to 100 when they have a reason to care.

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  • rocketrick says 8 months ago

    true those teams will not be around during the playoffs, but what it does do for elite teams is develop killer instinct. it true the only benefit during the season is better playoff seeding, but most humans are creatures of habit. the more you practice putting teams away when you have a knee on their neck the better you become at executing it. it's more to do with the mental approach which makes it not without it's value


    A lot of variables in play here that I don't think some members including RBF are considering. For one, all top teams lose games to bottom tier teams, that happens every month of every season of every year in the history of the NBA. Second, for the Rockets to always "put teams away when you have a knee on their neck" involves playing your starters longer minutes. I think most of us realize and accept the importance of not overplaying our most important rotation players.

    Lastly, I for one would prefer the Rockets win all their games. Knowing that is not possible, the next best thing is to prefer the Rockets beat the top tier teams and lose a few unimportant games here and there. Every team in the NBA is going to lose a few unimportant games. By concentrating on winning against the top tier teams, the Rockets obtain more tiebreaker advantages at the end of the season for better playoff seeding assuming all else is equal.
  • rockets best fan says 8 months ago

    Given how playoffs-orientated everyone seems to be nowadays, I'm surprised that stomping bad teams is considered to be a particularly relevant skill any more. Come playoff time they aren't going to be around to beat up on, after all. Consistently putting away bad teams is useful for getting a high playoff seed, but beyond that is of limited value.

    This is actually an area that I think current statistical methodologies still have a poor understanding of. It is gradually starting to change (I noticed Hickory High has been starting to talk about variance recently, for example), but because so much work is done using averages and aggregations of data that lose the outcomes of individual games it is very difficult account for erratic levels of performance. As a result, there will probably be quite a few ranking systems that mark the Rockets down for this sort of thing. But provided the team is switched on for the games that matters, I don't see it as a problem.

    ST

    true those teams will not be around during the playoffs, but what it does do for elite teams is develop killer instinct. it true the only benefit during the season is better playoff seeding, but most humans are creatures of habit. the more you practice putting teams away when you have a knee on their neck the better you become at executing it. it's more to do with the mental approach which makes it not without it's value

  • Sir Thursday says 8 months ago

    I agree

    that's the ticket......can they beat scrubs on nights when the switch is off. as impressive as their wins against top teams are, to be elite you need to step on the lousy teams.

    Given how playoffs-orientated everyone seems to be nowadays, I'm surprised that stomping bad teams is considered to be a particularly relevant skill any more. Come playoff time they aren't going to be around to beat up on, after all. Consistently putting away bad teams is useful for getting a high playoff seed, but beyond that is of limited value.

    This is actually an area that I think current statistical methodologies still have a poor understanding of. It is gradually starting to change (I noticed Hickory High has been starting to talk about variance recently, for example), but because so much work is done using averages and aggregations of data that lose the outcomes of individual games it is very difficult account for erratic levels of performance. As a result, there will probably be quite a few ranking systems that mark the Rockets down for this sort of thing. But provided the team is switched on for the games that matters, I don't see it as a problem.

    ST

  • rockets best fan says 8 months ago

    It's these kind of games (and the narrow victories over elite opponents like the recent Spurs win) that make me really optimistic about this team in the playoffs. I know the losses to Utah and Phoenix hurt our record and our chance of a top seed, but tonight serves as a reminder that when the Rockets are focused in, they are elite. I'm certain Houston will be focused in once the playoffs begin. I think this and the Spurs win do a lot more to show who the team is than the two losses do, and I hope we as fans will remember this game on the occasion nights when we lose to an inferior opponent.

    I agree



    This team definitely has an on/off switch. I'm still trying to decide whether that's a good thing or not. I'd feel better if they could still beat lousy teams when the switch is off.

    that's the ticket......can they beat scrubs on nights when the switch is off. as impressive as their wins against top teams are, to be elite you need to step on the lousy teams.

  • thenit says 8 months ago

    HALLELUJAH ! Harden played a COMPLETE game. The man is a stud when he wants to, I hope that he keeps taking pride in shutting down his opponent the same way he does on scoring.

  • Jeby says 8 months ago

    This team definitely has an on/off switch. I'm still trying to decide whether that's a good thing or not. I'd feel better if they could still beat lousy teams when the switch is off.

  • Journeymany says 8 months ago

    Here's an interesting sentence that I get to write: James Harden did a great job shutting down Klay Thompson.

    Err.... that's even more impressive considering Harden was on Barnes and Parsons was on Thompson all night. :D

  • Buckko says 8 months ago That's a commonly used term.
  • pretty pleaze parsons says 8 months ago

    "smite-a-Dwight strategy"

    props to our maxcat writer

  • Steven says 8 months ago

    I love that we're dropping over 100 on teams even when our 3ball isn't falling, but the best thing I loved about this game was our defense!

    Now remember that come three weeks from now when the Rockets stop playing defense again. The Rockets proved they can play it, now they can coast on that end until 2 weeks before the playoffs and ramp it up again.
  • 2016Champions says 8 months ago

    I love that we're dropping over 100 on teams even when our 3ball isn't falling, but the best thing I loved about this game was our defense!

  • Buckko says 8 months ago Can't wait for them to bring the house down in oracle. I don't like GS because I love rivalries and we should be getting Lin and asik back by then, right?
  • Drew in Abilene says 8 months ago

    It's these kind of games (and the narrow victories over elite opponents like the recent Spurs win) that make me really optimistic about this team in the playoffs. I know the losses to Utah and Phoenix hurt our record and our chance of a top seed, but tonight serves as a reminder that when the Rockets are focused in, they are elite. I'm certain Houston will be focused in once the playoffs begin. I think this and the Spurs win do a lot more to show who the team is than the two losses do, and I hope we as fans will remember this game on the occasion nights when we lose to an inferior opponent.

  • rocketrick says 8 months ago

    McHale, for his part, left starters in far longer than he should have, presumably due to watching the recent Warriors-Raptors game in which the Warriors stormed back from a 27 point deficit in the third quarter to win by 9. If there's one team that a 20+ point lead feels shaky against, t's the Warriors, a team which can heat up to supernova levels at any moment.


    I was at the game and if McHale had relied on the bench to wrap up the game by sitting his starters the entire 4th Quarter, rest assured, we'd be talking about something much different. The Golden State bench had much more energy and were making a nice comeback until McHale wasted little time in putting Harden back in, then D12 shortly thereafter and Parsons after that.

    Kind of hard to fault McHale for "overplaying" his starters in my opinion.
  • Red94 says 8 months ago New post: Houston Rockets 105, Golden State Warriors 83 - All defense, no threes
    By: Forrest Walker

    The Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors combined to hit 8 three pointers is 44 tries. That's a total of 18%: 2-16 for Golden State and 6-28 for Houston. That's a horrible, grim, coma-inducing number for any team, let alone a combination of two of the most avid and most accurate three point shooting teams in the league. Judging from three pointers alone, one might surmise that the game was a sloppy, ugly clank-fest on both sides. Well, one, you surmised incorrectly. The three point shot might have gone, but the defense and the mental intensity showed up instead.

    Here's an interesting sentence that I get to write: James Harden did a great job shutting down Klay Thompson. James Harden was locked in defensively all night, and along with Dwight Howard's excellent rim protection was critical in holding the explosive Warriors to a mere 83 points. The good news is that the Rockets showed that many of their defensive problems can  be linked to a matter of focus. The bad news is that they don't seem willing or able to focus as much as they need to every single game.

    Perhaps the return of Chandler Parsons helped key in the defense. Parsons was back in the lineup again, and the team responded better with him on the court. He's a far better creator than Francisco Garcia,and the starting lineup clearly works better on offense with Parsons in the mix. He may only have shot 3-13 on the night (for 8 points), but his 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals easily made up for it.

    The suddenly-defensively-skilled James Harden piled on the points instead, scoring 34 on 22 shots, grabbing 7 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal, a block and his requisite 4 turnovers. Harden was passing happily in this game, and that seems to be the hallmark of his more dominating performances. When he only looks to score, teams can zero in on him and make him pay. On nights like this, when he looks to make the assist, teams are forced to account for Houston's secondary weapons. That's when Harden strikes, and strike he did, repeatedly and viciously. Early in the game, Harden threw down a nasty one-handed breakaway slam that set the tone for the whole evening. The Rockets were proving a point.

    Dwight Howard proved him own point, and he did it at the stripe. He hit 12 of his 20 free throws, a number which was only good because of context. Warriors head coach Mark Jackson went to a smite-a-Dwight strategy in the third quarter, and Rockets head coach Kevin McHale chose to leave the big man in the game. Howard made good on that choice by hitting three of four free throws in one stretch and only extending Houston's already sizable lead. Howard ended the night on 5-8 shooting for 22 points and dragged down a massive pile of 18 rebounds. Dwight looked like the Dwight Houston was hoping for against the Warriors.

    The Warriors, however, didn't look like the Warriors. Stephen Curry ended with 22 points on 14 shots, but he missed 9 of those shots and went 1-5 from downtown. Klay Thompson, the other half of the so-called "super splash brothers" ended the night with a mortifying 5 points on 2-10 shooting and failed to hit a single three pointer. Andrew Bogut couldn't contain Dwight Howard, and the Warriors' starting center had to sit with fouls early and often. Golden State is still missing Andre Iguodala, and his return will mean a marked improvement for the team, but they have plenty to think about in the meantime.

    McHale, for his part, left starters in far longer than he should have, presumably due to watching the recent Warriors-Raptors game in which the Warriors stormed back from a 27 point deficit in the third quarter to win by 9. If there's one team that a 20+ point lead feels shaky against, t's the Warriors, a team which can heat up to supernova levels at any moment.

    The Rockets had the bounce-back game they needed against a team they needed to beat. One of the only teams that the Rockets actually claim rivalry with, the Golden State Warriors came out flat against a much-improved Rockets defense. When Patrick Beverley got a tip-in on his own free throw miss (via a tip by Dwight), the game was already over. The Rockets might not know how to give the 90-or-so percent the long regular season demands, but they can definitely amp it up to 100 when they have a reason to care.

  • tombrokeoff says 8 months ago

    worried we might be on the verge of a 3 game skid. hope im wrong of course.