Houston Rockets 109, New York Knicks 106: Coaching changes make the difference

The Rockets eked out a victory against the Knicks, despite the fact that Carmelo Anthony went off for 45 points and Andrea Bargnani schooled Howard on both ends of the court.  Terrence Jones, playing 34 minutes, did his best to contain Anthony, but he shot 17 of 30 from the field and almost won the game single handedly.

The Rockets led by 3 points with 5.7 seconds remaining and the Knicks had the ball on the side.  The inbound pass went to Anthony and Harden barely fouled him before he got the shot up, and in from behind the arc.  The crowd went wild, Spike Lee kept referring to the replay, but the call stood.  Carmelo hit both free throws to close it to one before the Rockets inbounded the ball to Harden. He was fouled and hit both of his shots to seal it.

This is the first time this season that McHale has used a foul in this situation and it turned out to be the right call. McHale and the Rockets have been burned by big threes at the end of the game early this year.  Kudos for the change in tactics Kevin!

Howard had only one field goal in the entire game, and finished with 7 points.  Harden came back after missing the last game, took a couple of tough shots to the head, and scored 36.  He attacked the rim with abandon.  Parsons had a whale of a game with 22 points and scored 11 straight points in the second quarter.  Lin returned to the Garden to drop 21 on his former team.

McHale also changed tactics when Hack-a-Howard started, this time he took Howard out of the game and prevented another loss.  Kudos for the change in tactics Kevin!  The more pressure on Howard at the line the worse he shoots. Hack-a-Howard actually gave the Rockets a crucial extra free throw when Anthony fouled Howard away from the ball, with less than two minutes remaining.  He didn’t recognize the time.  With a foul like this, the coach gets to pick who will shoot the free throw and the offensive team keeps the ball. Harden hit the free throw.

This was another game where the Rockets held a double digit lead and it went down to the last shot.  When the Knicks tied it at 75, it looked like the Rockets were going to give another one away.  There is no way this game should have been so close with Tyson Chandler out.

Greg Smith came into the game and in his one minute of playing time went down with a badly twisted knee.  X-rays were negative, but the Rockets tweeted that it appears to be a sprained LCL and will need an MRI.

After news of Asik’s trade request hit the wires, he sat the entire game.  That’s a total of four minutes for Asik in the last two games combined. Asik is definitely lacking passion and is struggling to find the rhythm he had last year. A trade seems probable in the near future.

Winning close games on the road are critical for the Rockets development and in that, they were successful tonight. Good coaching at the end of the game led to a different result than similar games this year.  And, it’s good to have Harden back!

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Total comments: 28
  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    In an interview yesterday Morey said he hopes they can still use the twin tower lineup versus some teams this season. Take that however you like considering everything that's going on that could be fairly interpreted a few different ways. I will post the Morey interview in the Interviews... thread shortly.

    Just weeks ago he said it won't work, so in yesterday's interview I got the sense he was trying to sugar cost a bit it by saying it could work against certain line ups if a huge rebounding edge is created but so far that hasn't happened. To me that sounded like he doesn't like the pairing.

  • feelingsupersonic says 5 months ago In an interview yesterday Morey said he hopes they can still use the twin tower lineup versus some teams this season. Take that however you like considering everything that's going on that could be fairly interpreted a few different ways. I will post the Morey interview in the Interviews... thread shortly.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 5 months ago

    I hope you're right. His pretty quick abandonment of the twin towers bodes well for his ability to recognize something as not working. That was the most positive sign I've seen from him this season.

  • rocketrick says 5 months ago

    Coaches who've won a ring
    2013 = Spo
    2012 = Spo
    2011 = Carlisle
    2010 = Phil
    2009 = Phil
    2008 = Doc
    2007 = Pop
    2006 = Riley
    2005 = Pop
    2004 = Brown
    2003 = Pop
    2002 = Phil
    2001 = Phil
    2000 = Phil
    1999 = Pop

    Get my drift? Results point to the fact that you need an all time great coach to win a ring(at least in the last 12-15 years). Some people believe that Spo isn't all that great, I disagree. I've seen signs of great improvement from him and he's proven how good he is. I'm sorry if I don't think Mchale is in that class and see very little positive signs that he's improving. I hope I'm proven wrong(because that would mean the Rockets win a championship).


    Pat Riley fired Stan VanGundy after the 2005-06 season started in Miami and as GM chose to replace him as Head Coach.

    Then Spoelstra received much heat in the press at the start of the 2010-11 season, the first season Lebron, D-Wade and Bosh joined forces, and there was a lot of speculation that perhaps Riley would repeat what he had done in 2005-06 by firing Spoelstra and again take over Head Coaching duties but he held off and the Heat turned things around later in the season athough losing to Dallas in the Finals that season.

    So, Spoelstra managed to survive and he has turned out to be a pretty decent coach although when you have Lebron, D-Wade, Bosh, Shane Battier, Ray Allen et al, that certainly doesn't hurt your chances for success as Head Coach!!

    I personally believe Coach McHale brings more to the table and obviously the players love playing for him. I haven't heard anything negative from a single player other than Kyle Lowry and we know what happened in that particular case. McHale's background, success as an NBA player and ability to develop players like Kevin Garnett gives him the street cred with current superstars like D12 and James Harden.

    Now that Phil Jackson is retired and Pop may be joining him in those ranks soon, it is time for new Head Coaches to lead their teams to NBA Championships. Interesting that 9 of last 15 NBA Champions were coached by an ex-NBA player.
  • thejohnnygold says 5 months ago

    A coach like McHale needs a true floor general for balance. A player (presumably PG) that knows the game and can run the team on his own--Avery Johnson, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul kind of guys. I believe (with no evidence to support it) that the organization is trying to groom Lin into this guy (at least until they can find one to replace him or Beverley).

    The point is, McHale's coaching style can work fine, but he needs an X's and O's guy on the floor to help the offense along. Yes, we can point the finger at the coaches, but it's the lack of compatibility between the coaches and the players that I think is the culprit.

  • 2016Champions says 5 months ago

    Last year our record in close game was poor, so far this year we haven't been that good. Also execution will be a factor, but my opinion is that after each timeout it seems like we don't have a good set defence or offends compared to our opponents. Even if it's execution doesn't if fall on the coach to improve that during practices? We look poor when the other team go on a run we take a timeout to get a breather and hopefully get a good look but it just looks disorientated. Last plays of the games are have a bigger variance because there are fewer of them, but the timeout plays we hVe a larger number of plays and bass on just what I have seen we don't look any different from last year.

    Last year's team lost 7 in a row when they had that during drought. We're having a shooting drought right now and we're 6-4.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 5 months ago

    Coaches who've won a ring

    2013 = Spo

    2012 = Spo

    2011 = Carlisle

    2010 = Phil

    2009 = Phil

    2008 = Doc

    2007 = Pop

    2006 = Riley

    2005 = Pop

    2004 = Brown

    2003 = Pop

    2002 = Phil

    2001 = Phil

    2000 = Phil

    1999 = Pop

    Get my drift? Results point to the fact that you need an all time great coach to win a ring(at least in the last 12-15 years). Some people believe that Spo isn't all that great, I disagree. I've seen signs of great improvement from him and he's proven how good he is. I'm sorry if I don't think Mchale is in that class and see very little positive signs that he's improving. I hope I'm proven wrong(because that would mean the Rockets win a championship).

  • thenit says 5 months ago

    Oh, I forgot to add, as fans we don't have any idea what play is being drawn in the timeouts. So Coach McHale detractors will simply say the play was bad if we get a bad result. Of course, they disappear from the forum for a couple of days when the Rockets win on a last second shot rather than give any credit to Coach McHale.


    Last year our record in close game was poor, so far this year we haven't been that good. Also execution will be a factor, but my opinion is that after each timeout it seems like we don't have a good set defence or offends compared to our opponents. Even if it's execution doesn't if fall on the coach to improve that during practices? We look poor when the other team go on a run we take a timeout to get a breather and hopefully get a good look but it just looks disorientated. Last plays of the games are have a bigger variance because there are fewer of them, but the timeout plays we hVe a larger number of plays and bass on just what I have seen we don't look any different from last year.
  • rm90025 says 5 months ago

    There are a lot of problems with the Rockets. Dwight Howard has not made an impact on the game at either end of the floor. He is a very average at best offensive player and isn't a very good 1 on 1 defender against big centers because he is too small and especially against centers who can shoot. They have a better player on their bench, Omer Asik, but he isn't seeing any playing time. That McHale pulled the plug on Asik entirely is a significant error on his part. Asik should be playing 25 minutes per game. There isn't an excuse for keeping someone that good on the pine. It has demoralized him and he is looking for a trade. That's really not the way to start a season from a coaching standpoint.

    Their starting rotation isn't really performing well. They're not very good in the last 5 minutes of the game, mainly because of ball stopping play from Harden and really bad offense/defense from Howard.

  • Richards says 5 months ago

    What I see from TJ is up and down productions from games to games. Nothing new for young players. He seems at least one full season away from being reliable.

    I reason I was hard on McHale is I din't see coach's "fingerprint" on games. He can't impact the games like other top coaches from sideline.

    Yes. Players are responsible for at least 80% but coach's rotation, timeouts, match up against others are important too.

    Regarding Bev, other than a few splendid steals and rebound, he didn't do much lately. To me, he only had one good game this season. Not arguing to start Lin. But still I will start Lin over Bev if we start defensive PF.

  • rocketrick says 5 months ago

    Here is how I see the coaches and players so far in this season:

    Most Improved Player:
    Lin

    Best New Comer to Rockets
    Cassipi

    Reliable and Productive as Ever
    Harden, Parsons

    Staying the Same
    Bev, TJ, Garcia

    Going South
    McHale, Howard

    Limbo Men
    Asik, D-Mo, Smith, Brewer


    Yep, McHale should have shot all those free throws that D12 has missed so far. The Lakers game stands out for me.

    And Asik's less than stellar play is on McHale, he should of just kept him in all those games when he kept dropping great passes at the bucket for an easy dunk. Actually, forgive me, McHale should have caught those passes for Asik then handed the ball to Asik to finish at the bucket.

    And I'm sorry to be the one to have to say this, but Lin is a vastly better PG than Beverly to this point in the season. Still, as a Rockets fan, I much prefer Lin coming off the bench. Just saying though, for those who believe Beverly is holding steady because I disagree, I think his game has definitely digressed.

    Lastly, Terrance Jones has made Coach McHale's decision to bench Asik much more palatable with his play the past 2 games. Will be interesting going forward to see if Terrance can keep up and even improve on his game going forward. I wouldn't characterize T-Jones game as "staying the same" as he is much improved thus far over last season in my opinion.
  • rocketrick says 5 months ago

    I will support the Rockets whatever comes. But that doesn't mean I'm blind. If you want to think you're a better fan because you will support Mchale no matter what, you go ahead. You have a different opinion of what a fan is.


    Dude, you are putting words in my mouth that I never said!

    C'mon, man , you are better than that! Possibly you win Shaqtin the Fool for that foolish post!

    Coach McHale absolutely deserves to be the Head Coach of the Rockets for much longer than just the All-Star break. Goodness!

    Just because I support McHale now doesn't mean I will support him no matter what.

    I believe you have a different opinion of what a fan is.

    So we can agree to disagree, that's OK, but like I said, it is much easier to criticize than praise and that's what these forums usually devolve into being.
  • Richards says 5 months ago

    Here is how I see the coaches and players so far in this season:

    Most Improved Player:

    Lin

    Best New Comer to Rockets

    Cassipi

    Reliable and Productive as Ever

    Harden, Parsons

    Staying the Same

    Bev, TJ, Garcia

    Going South

    McHale, Howard

    Limbo Men

    Asik, D-Mo, Smith, Brewer

  • timetodienow1234567 says 5 months ago I will support the Rockets whatever comes. But that doesn't mean I'm blind. If you want to think you're a better fan because you will support Mchale no matter what, you go ahead. You have a different opinion of what a fan is.
  • rocketrick says 5 months ago

    I am willing to give McHale more time but there are serious coaching problems going on. We have lots of new pieces to work out as we are adding Howard and Casspi to the lineup, changing lots in the game, not to mention the experiment with Asik. However, the debate over end of game tactics misses the much larger point....why are we even close at the end of games. The Knicks and 76ers should be jokes that we can roll over without breaking a sweat. No Chandler should mean Dwight, if he is as good as advertised, should be dominating play after play in the paint. Instead we constantly goes to his post game which is just a train wreck. Against the 76ers as well as Toronto, our starters should have been resting the entire 4th quarter, not exhausting themselves both nights only to lose.
    I think it is safe to say that Dwight is no longer the Orlando, pre injury Dwight. And you can see it in his face every free throw is an exercise in mental pain for him. ...but lots of other problems are coaching ones.
    I give him till the All Star break and then if another replacement that is good is out there then we may swing for that. Van Gundy anyone?


    Wow, that's really great that you are offering to allow Coach McHale to stay until the All Star Break. Kind of reminds me a lot of what is going on in DC these days with the all the politics crapola.

    I do agree with you in regards to D12. He may or may not be the Orlando D12, although still too early in my opinion to make a definitive statement on how D12 will fare for the Rockets over the next 4 years when we are only 10 games into his first season as a Rocket.

    The Rockets would be much better right now with a much more aggressive and confident D12 on the offense end of the court. Thank goodness D12 hasn't forgot how to rebound (although he does fail to block out on too many occasions allowing for an easy put back shot at the bucket on misses by our opponents) and still has solid defensive moments.

    By the way, the Rockets actually beat the Raptors thanks to the ex-Rocket Rudy Gay and his amazingly bad shooting touch.

    Unless the Rockets go on a long losing streak, I seriously, seriously doubt anything is going to change in regards to the Head Coach of the Rockets. But good try and I'm sure there will be plenty more anti-McHale posts to come no matter how successful the Rockets turn out. That just comes with the territory.

    At some point I would imagine there will be some anti-James Harden and anti-D12 posts coming, too.

    I don't look forward to that day, but still, it's probably coming because it is apparently so much easier to criticize than back your team enthusiastically.
  • Richards says 5 months ago

    Just a reminder that fouling like Harden did to Melo at last second is easy one. Harden and team warned the Ref they are fouling Knicks.

  • John P says 5 months ago

    I am willing to give McHale more time but there are serious coaching problems going on. We have lots of new pieces to work out as we are adding Howard and Casspi to the lineup, changing lots in the game, not to mention the experiment with Asik. However, the debate over end of game tactics misses the much larger point....why are we even close at the end of games. The Knicks and 76ers should be jokes that we can roll over without breaking a sweat. No Chandler should mean Dwight, if he is as good as advertised, should be dominating play after play in the paint. Instead we constantly goes to his post game which is just a train wreck. Against the 76ers as well as Toronto, our starters should have been resting the entire 4th quarter, not exhausting themselves both nights only to lose.

    I think it is safe to say that Dwight is no longer the Orlando, pre injury Dwight. And you can see it in his face every free throw is an exercise in mental pain for him. ...but lots of other problems are coaching ones.

    I give him till the All Star break and then if another replacement that is good is out there then we may swing for that. Van Gundy anyone?

  • rocketrick says 5 months ago

    You see what you want to see. Can you tell me how hard to foul a player? Executing play is different, not always goes with the plan. Fouling in NBA is not like tackling in NFL. Easy one.


    Oh, I forgot to add, as fans we don't have any idea what play is being drawn in the timeouts. So Coach McHale detractors will simply say the play was bad if we get a bad result. Of course, they disappear from the forum for a couple of days when the Rockets win on a last second shot rather than give any credit to Coach McHale.
  • rocketrick says 5 months ago Which is exactly why James Harden had to foul Carmelo Anthony 3 (three times) before the ref blew the whistle, and that was even right before the play when Harden tells the ref he plans to foul Carmelo.

    Everybody that watches the NBA knows the referees are very inconsistent with calling fouls.

    Players try to be respectful of the player they are about to foul at the end of the game as they don't want to be tackled themselves and get injured.

    That's why Coach McHale telling his players to foul and then the whistle not blowing shouldn't be Coach McHale's fault.

    Of course those Coach McHale detractors will never be satisfied anyway so I'm not even sure why I am wasting my time on this other than to call out posters who take cheap shots at Coach McHale because they have nothing else worthwhile to add to the forum.
  • Richards says 5 months ago

    You see what you want to see. Can you tell me how hard to foul a player? Executing play is different, not always goes with the plan. Fouling in NBA is not like tackling in NFL. Easy one.

  • rocketrick says 5 months ago

    if McHale is telling his team to foul and it's not happening he doesn't have control of his team.


    And Andre Iguadola was interviewed right after hitting the game winning shot against OKC last night and the first thing he said was that was not the play drawn up in the huddle by Coach Mark Jackson.

    So by your reasoning, Coach Jackson doesn't have control of the Golden State Warriors team, either.

    Just hilarious as you apparently believe the Rockets players are simply robots following the program and are not allowed to deviate.

    I want to watch those last minute 3's again to see if the officials simply chose not to blow the whistle when the Rockets attempted to foul.

    Jeremy Lin for sure was trying like crazy to foul on the last play of the game last night when I believe it was JR Smith heaved a last second 3 that thank goodness failed to find the net. The officials let it go and did not call the foul.
  • rockets best fan says 5 months ago

    Coach McHale has received a lot of heat in our forum for not calling for a foul with time running out and a 3-point lead on at least 3 separate occasions thus far this season. However, it turns out Coach McHale and the Rockets intended to foul in all those occasions but failed to do so. Is that on the Coach or on the players for failing to execute?

    Coach McHale was quoted by Feigen of the Houston Chronicle -- "We worked on it" joked McHale about all those 3 pointers that stunned the Rockets in prior games. But in those instances, they had wanted to foul, but could not get to it quickly enough. "We wanted to foul", McHale said "in those situations." We were organized to say "Hey, we're fouling on the catch." "We wanted to do that, we just didn't."

    Harden added "Tonight, we fouled and he still made a big 3. But we told the referees before we were fouling."

    I believe those that wish to criticize Coach McHale for supposed failed end of game strategy need to realize that we are not in the huddle with those players and choosing to criticize McHale without having any facts to substantiate your point just proves you are simply a Coach McHale detractor looking for, and in some instances making up, reasons to always criticize without ever once praising McHale for his coaching and leadership.

    if McHale is telling his team to foul and it's not happening he doesn't have control of his team.

  • linonlyfan says 5 months ago

    He also changed up by switching Howard off Bargnani when Bargnani popped out to the 3 point line later in the game. There are a lot of positives here, team still heading in right direction.

    Dwight free throws also looked better. If we didn't need a win so much i think we should keep sticking him in the deep end and make him find his way. Steve Kerr called it pure when he hit 2/2 in on one trip hah!

    Harden just has something extra. Sinking that 3 pointer over Shumpert at the end (not quite) was just cold. Its like he had it in his head, hand down man down. It wasn't a freak shot like the Carmelo shot on the foul, it was clear and quality recognition that Shumpert would not be able to challenge. Amazing stuff.

    They once asked MJ how he averaged 32 pts a game. MJ said 32 pts a game is just 8 per quarter, i figure i can get that in the flow of the offense. Harden could easily replicate that. Not comparing Harden to MJ on everything, but he strikes me as dangerously efficient when the offense is humming, and boy did it hum at times last night.

  • rocketrick says 5 months ago Coach McHale has received a lot of heat in our forum for not calling for a foul with time running out and a 3-point lead on at least 3 separate occasions thus far this season. However, it turns out Coach McHale and the Rockets intended to foul in all those occasions but failed to do so. Is that on the Coach or on the players for failing to execute?

    Coach McHale was quoted by Feigen of the Houston Chronicle -- "We worked on it" joked McHale about all those 3 pointers that stunned the Rockets in prior games. But in those instances, they had wanted to foul, but could not get to it quickly enough. "We wanted to foul", McHale said "in those situations." We were organized to say "Hey, we're fouling on the catch." "We wanted to do that, we just didn't."

    Harden added "Tonight, we fouled and he still made a big 3. But we told the referees before we were fouling."

    I believe those that wish to criticize Coach McHale for supposed failed end of game strategy need to realize that we are not in the huddle with those players and choosing to criticize McHale without having any facts to substantiate your point just proves you are simply a Coach McHale detractor looking for, and in some instances making up, reasons to always criticize without ever once praising McHale for his coaching and leadership.
  • rockets best fan says 5 months ago



    Why the hate on mchale, I don't see him doing anything wrong. We have only lost our games when the players have up and became complacent and the coaches can only do so much.

    if you don't see him doing anything wrong you haven't watched him close enough. trust me he's running up a laundry list. I'm still for giving him time to work this out, but he shoulders much of the blame for our inability to play anything approaching good defense. this is a problem that has been going on in all of the games so far.

  • Buckko says 5 months ago

    Why the hate on mchale, I don't see him doing anything wrong. We have only lost our games when the players have up and became complacent and the coaches can only do so much.

  • rockets best fan says 5 months ago

    Meh, these close games have more to do with luck than coaching. How about a coaching change that avoids having close games against terrible teams?

    I'm not calling for McHale's head just yet. he has made some boo boo's this year, but the teams is struggling so bad some of the problems have to be attributed to the players not being familiar with each other........hence the massive amount of turnovers. the Rockets are changing their identity. they can not play the way they did last year. they are a different team. some of the players seem out of rhythm because there is a change of stylewith play. I watching to see how he handles moving the team toward this new style

  • David says 5 months ago

    Meh, these close games have more to do with luck than coaching. How about a coaching change that avoids having close games against terrible teams?