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Houston Rockets 113, Washington Wizards 112: I guess Harden-ball can work after all.

If the aphorism that a championship team can win games even when they play badly is true, then the Houston Rockets should start planning the parade right about now.  Sure, Trevor Ariza just got hot from downtown, and sure the Rockets did shoot extremely well themselves, and sure Dwight Howard made Marcin Gortat and Nene look silly, and Harden put up 35 points, and Donatas Motiejunas 11 to help the bench.  But the reality is that 9 times out of 10, with Houston down 2 points with 4 seconds left and having failed to make a field goal in nearly 5 minutes, the Rockets would have lost this game largely due to shoddy perimeter defense and an absolutely unacceptable passing game which created a ludicrous 26 turnovers.  But a poor foul from Trevor Ariza and a clutch layup from James Harden meant that the Rockets did not so much as win as more they escaped.

The turnovers, really, should receive the first focus of the game, even more so than Harden’s heroics. Bill Worrell, Houston’s commentator, stated at one point that the Rockets had not turned the ball over more than 20 times in around 30 games.  I’ll admit that this was a pleasant surprise and a nice change from the beginning of the season, when handing out 20 turnovers seemed to happen more often than not. Washington is one of the very best teams in the league at forcing turnovers, and they have the long, athletic player in Ariza, John Wall, and Martell Webster to do it.  But a lot of Houston’s turnovers were Jeremy Lin, Harden, and Howard trying out passes that they had no business attempting, as those three players combined for 16 of the 26 turnovers.  The last five minutes are a good example, as Houston had three turnovers in that stretch.  Lin attempted a foolish half-court pass to Dwight which got picked off, Dwight attempted a bad cross-court pass to Lin, and Terrence Jones shuffled his feet.  To top it off, the fact that so many turnovers were the result of bad passes meant that Washington got the opportunity to push the ball in transition, bolstering their anemic half-court offense.  It was without a doubt the single worst thing about this game, much more so than Trevor Ariza catching fire in the third quarter.

Oh.  Right.  Ariza.  Ariza had played decently well for the first two quarters of the game, but with 3:31 left in the 3rd quarter, the Rockets were leading by 19, and Nene really had been the best Washington player at that point.  But over the next 3 minutes, the Wizards hit 6 straight 3 pointers.  5 of them were by Ariza, who hit a career high 10 3-pointers and went 7-7 in the third.  A lot of Ariza’s earlier threes were the result of bad defense, especially from Harden’s ball-watching habits.  But even after the Rockets latched onto Ariza at the end of the 3rd quarter, he continued to hit anyways, just like Chandler Parsons’s valiant effort against the Memphis Grizzlies.  Fortunately, Ariza was shut down in the 4th quarter, but the Wizards did retake the lead of Houston turnovers until Harden saved the day.

As for Harden?  Rahat has discussed in the past his own concerns about Harden-ball in the last few minutes, but I take a different perspective.  I remember how the Kevin Martin-Luis Scola-Aaron Brooks Rockets, even with an offensive mastermind in Rick Adelman at the helm, struggled badly at the end of games because the time limitations meant that running plays was difficult and Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks are not exactly players who should be receiving the ball at the end of the game.  Scoring at the end of games is difficult in general.  Tonight, however, the Rockets were able to ride Harden over the final two possessions, and it resulted in free throws and an absolutely spectacular layup to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Ultimately, the victory over Washington is not one which should go down in the annals of great victories.  But a win is a win, 7 wins in a row is still good, and the Houston Rockets could very well be tied in 3rd place at the All-Star break depending on the results of tonight’s Clippers-Blazers game.  For now, I guess I’ll take it.

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About the author: Write for a living, though not in sports. Been following the Rockets my whole life, with Stockton’s shot being my first memory. Consequently traumatized.

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  • Steven says 8 months ago

    I will take that as a joke and nothing more. Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the two best players in the world, (for 3 or 4 years he was actually the best) a great professional and, most of all, a great person. I'm so proud that he was born in the same country as me. I'm sorry that you feel otherwise.

    Just some pre-WC banter.
  • Dayak says 8 months ago CR7 is as good as Harden in getting foul call, and now he is the world best player of the year. Not bad, huh? :D
  • Sir Thursday says 8 months ago

    I will take that as a joke and nothing more. Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the two best players in the world, (for 3 or 4 years he was actually the best) a great professional and, most of all, a great person. I'm so proud that he was born in the same country as me. I'm sorry that you feel otherwise.

    Pay no heed to Steven. He has what can generously be described as a very dry sense of humour ;).

    ST

  • bernardo says 8 months ago

    Welcome. CR7 sucks.

    I will take that as a joke and nothing more. Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the two best players in the world, (for 3 or 4 years he was actually the best) a great professional and, most of all, a great person. I'm so proud that he was born in the same country as me. I'm sorry that you feel otherwise.

  • feelingsupersonic says 8 months ago So I found Drew league blogs and articles and confirmed they have both played in the Drew league at the same time, maybe on the same teams. Maybe the motorboating was about who was picking up the tab at Treasures after the game. I still maintain Ariza had two hands on Harden at the beginning which is an automatic foul and Harden took advantage of Ariza once he compromised himself, Manu was probably jealous when he saw it
  • YaoMan says 8 months ago

    Did anyone find anything on their friendship? I wonder if Ariza and Harden play together in LA in the off season.

    A lot of former Pac 10 players are friends so that wouldn't surprise me in the least...

  • YaoMan says 8 months ago

    Lin didn't have a great game, true. But instead of focusing on the win you chose to demean Lin trying to be funny(but also knowing you'd antagonize some Lin fans). I don't really care but while I got the joke I understand that some won't and think you were trying to start a commenting war.

    Exactly. I thought the clipboard part was funny and when someone made mention of it, "Dood" flipped out as if he had to pay for the Rockets performace out of his own pocket. I thought it was an ugly game with 4 seconds of greatness. I was just relieved that we got out of it after Ariza pulled a "Parsons moment" with them 3s. Funny thing about that Memphis game and this Wash game, the player who made the 10 3s lost the game by 1 point. Strange isn't it?

  • YaoMan says 8 months ago

    For your first paragraph, why don't you read my second post, it seems you have trouble understanding my point. Yes, standing at the 3 point line, not running into Harden's path is certainly important, but that's not a special move that's noteworthy in the context of a game-winning layup by Harden.

    How is concern over Lin's extremely high TOs "unnecessary negativity"? I'd say discussion about high TOs is very necessary. Also, I was only referring to Lin's TOs this game in response to someone saying "floor general," I wasn't necessarily talking about his career TOs.

    I understood it perfectly but as TTDN pointed out, you chose to focus strictly on one bad pass and joking about a floor private because of his 5 TOs. You said his dropping off had nothing to do with the play at all. Not sure if you ever coached or played but just because you think it doesn't matter or obi wan used his force or whatever, but it seems you might be drinking a little hatorade. See I was concentrating on the great play that got the bucket and the good rotation after the .7 seconds but it seems you got all worked up because someone said Lin did something and you decided you had to talk smack about it. I don't know "dude" but sounds like some hate to me.

  • Steven says 8 months ago

    Porto wine is really really good, one of the many great things about this country. As for the forum, I surely will enjoy it, it has the best articles about the Rockets around the web and the discussions here are quite interesting, without any trolling or posts without any sense that we normally see in some websites.

    Welcome. CR7 sucks.
  • bernardo says 8 months ago

    Bernardo, welcome to Red94. Glad you are a long time reader of Rahat's blog and thank you for joining the forum. I hope you enjoy it. As I side note I sure do really enjoy porto from the Douro Valley, it's one of my favorite wines.

    Porto wine is really really good, one of the many great things about this country. As for the forum, I surely will enjoy it, it has the best articles about the Rockets around the web and the discussions here are quite interesting, without any trolling or posts without any sense that we normally see in some websites.

  • feelingsupersonic says 8 months ago Bernardo, welcome to Red94. Glad you are a long time reader of Rahat's blog and thank you for joining the forum. I hope you enjoy it. As a side note I sure do really enjoy porto from the Douro Valley, it's one of my favorite wines.
  • bernardo says 8 months ago

    Hi there. My name is Bernardo, 20 years old and I'm a huge Rockets fan from Portugal ever since I started following the NBA (basically since the Yao Ming/Tracy McGrady era). I've been a reader of red94 since 2011, but today is my first post. This is for me, by far, the best site about the Houston Rockets around the web, with really good articles almost all the time. With the hours of difference from Portugal to USA, it's a little difficult for me to follow all the games live but I was able to watch this one. Even though that the Wizards have been playing some good basketball as of late, I think this should've been a more comfortable win. Anyway, a win is a win and the 7-game win streak into the ASG is really good. Harden, once again, prove to be vital to us, but I think our late-game execution was, once again, poor (I've seen it more often than not this season and it's really scaring me, particulary when playoff time arrives). Too many turnovers, some costly defensive mistakes that could translate to a loss. Fortunately, Ariza made a dumb mistake (credit to Harden anyway) and The Beard carried us one more time. Overall, I think it was a balanced team effort, with good contributions from everyone, and with our 2 All-stars being what everyone expect them to be. As for the website goes, keep up the good work, because it sure is good to read such good articles about the best franchise in the NBA.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 8 months ago Lin didn't have a great game, true. But instead of focusing on the win you chose to demean Lin trying to be funny(but also knowing you'd antagonize some Lin fans). I don't really care but while I got the joke I understand that some won't and think you were trying to start a commenting war.
  • dood says 8 months ago

    Actually every player matters when setting up the out of bounds play. Whether you break off or run your man into another, it creates the spacing necessary and if the opposing player doesn't follow you then you would be wide open for the inbounds or a pass off for an open shot. Trust me it's team effort with Harden finishing like a star.

    I see a lot of unecessary negativity and although Jeremy is a work in progress, his turnovers have gone down every year since Linsanity in NY. You also have to take account that Harden had 4 TOs and Howard 7 TOs and every single Rocket recorded a TO. It wasn't a pretty game and Lin was definitely a contributer to that ugliness. But he was also instrumental with some timely shots and actually played decent defense. Wall and Beal shot 33% or less. There are about 15 or 16 other point guards who turn the ball over more than Lin, although some of have a higher usage rate but when you also rate that with non PG who handle the ball a lot (including Harden or James) there are 30 some odd players who turn the ball over more per game. That doesn't excuse some of his bad habits but as a team in general, the Rockets need to do a better job of this. They are 28th in TOs and they need to cut some of that down before the playoffs (although OKC is 27th but they have the superior roster to overcome those).

    For your first paragraph, why don't you read my second post, it seems you have trouble understanding my point. Yes, standing at the 3 point line, not running into Harden's path is certainly important, but that's not a special move that's noteworthy in the context of a game-winning layup by Harden.

    How is concern over Lin's extremely high TOs "unnecessary negativity"? I'd say discussion about high TOs is very necessary. Also, I was only referring to Lin's TOs this game in response to someone saying "floor general," I wasn't necessarily talking about his career TOs.

  • YaoMan says 8 months ago

    Why is there so much talk about Lin? That last play was all about Harden & terrible Wiz defense, and I guess some credit to Dwight for the pick, although it wasn't that great of a pick. Lin did pretty much nothing on that play, just about as much as Parsons and Garcia out on the 3 line. Floor general? 5 TOs including a full court pass to a not-open Dwight that made no sense. Floor private at best.

    Actually every player matters when setting up the out of bounds play. Whether you break off or run your man into another, it creates the spacing necessary and if the opposing player doesn't follow you then you would be wide open for the inbounds or a pass off for an open shot. Trust me it's team effort with Harden finishing like a star.

    I see a lot of unecessary negativity and although Jeremy is a work in progress, his turnovers have gone down every year since Linsanity in NY. You also have to take account that Harden had 4 TOs and Howard 7 TOs and every single Rocket recorded a TO. It wasn't a pretty game and Lin was definitely a contributer to that ugliness. But he was also instrumental with some timely shots and actually played decent defense. Wall and Beal shot 33% or less. There are about 15 or 16 other point guards who turn the ball over more than Lin, although some of have a higher usage rate but when you also rate that with non PG who handle the ball a lot (including Harden or James) there are 30 some odd players who turn the ball over more per game. That doesn't excuse some of his bad habits but as a team in general, the Rockets need to do a better job of this. They are 28th in TOs and they need to cut some of that down before the playoffs (although OKC is 27th but they have the superior roster to overcome those).

  • timetodienow1234567 says 8 months ago FSS I hadn't seen any of that here. It just seems like some are touchy about Lin either way. I didn't mean to offend you if that's not the case. This is the only rockets site I visit regularly.
  • Willk says 8 months ago

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qK5fU7a1zM&feature=youtu.be

    JG - try the link above. There is also a weird headbutt and push off at the end there.Funny stuff.

  • BrentYen says 8 months ago

    I really hopeObi Wan Linobi could do that, so the game would not be that close. Anyway, Harden did great like you said, no more Lin talk. :rolleyes:

  • dood says 8 months ago

    Drew defenders away? Oh, did Obi Wan Linobi use the Force and freeze the Wizards' bodies? If by drawing away defenders you mean Parsons and Garcia standing on the 3-pt line and NOT running in front of Harden to block his path, then yes they drew defenders away, but that's not a brilliant move that should be lauded. The primary focus, if anything, should be on Harden's clutch layup, not Lin simply changing directions off the ball.

  • BrentYen says 8 months ago

    Because ppl kept adding posts about him, just like what you just did. :P I disagree with the doing nothing notion on Parsons, and Garcia. They've drawn defenders away. So did Lin, every players in that play were important and Harden did what he was supposed to do, scoring. He did it brilliantly.

  • dood says 8 months ago

    Why is there so much talk about Lin? That last play was all about Harden & terrible Wiz defense, and I guess some credit to Dwight for the pick, although it wasn't that great of a pick. Lin did pretty much nothing on that play, just about as much as Parsons and Garcia out on the 3 line. Floor general? 5 TOs including a full court pass to a not-open Dwight that made no sense. Floor private at best.

  • webattorney says 8 months ago Won, but sure makes a lot of games exciting right till the end.
  • BrentYen says 8 months ago

    Too many bigs MOVE in that situation. I don think It would be called at all.

  • feelingsupersonic says 8 months ago Definitely a moving screen and may have even held but that won't get called inside of 4 seconds.
  • MrLobble says 8 months ago

    I think this thread is overanalyzing everything. In the end, it was a fortunate break with the foul and a god awful 2nd defensive possession by the bigman on Howard for that pathetic hedge... <<

    Don't tell the league offices, but Dwight's big moving screen is what freed up the space for Harden ;)

  • feelingsupersonic says 8 months ago

    I saw that too, are they good friends?


    Did anyone find anything on their friendship? I wonder if Ariza and Harden play together in LA in the off season.
  • feelingsupersonic says 8 months ago You can laugh, you can laugh at me, whatever works. All I know is that I have seen on other Rockets news and blog sites confusion on the subject, not trying to offend anyone just trying to make it clear for anyone who wasn't sure or was confused. Anyway, credit to McHale and staff for the play, credit to Harden for delivering and the team for executing.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 8 months ago Some people are sensitive about Lin. Lol.
  • BrentYen says 8 months ago

    I think that Lin took marker from McHale thing was just half jokingly said by fans. PPL watched games knows that was for the last defensive play.

    @PhillyCheese, I think there must be some preset options from the same initial formation. Lin might be just the trigger for which option they would use (I said it's Lin's decision based on he was the 1st one to actually move). They must had run that a lot of times during practice.

  • feelingsupersonic says 8 months ago I think it's common knowledge that when Lin grabbed the clipboard it was after they took the lead. It was about denying a shot with .7 left and a few guys were paying attention, looks to me like Parsons did most of the talking. Harden walked off while they were talking, it probably wasn't that important. It's a shame a few fans are misinforming other fans as to when it took place.
  • PhillyCheese says 8 months ago

    Good analysis fellas - yes, even the announcers said the Rockets were running the same play at the start of it. Would really love to know if the Lin cut was his own doing or if it was drawn up. I mean the dummy was set up perfectly. Not sure they had a lot of time to come up with a new play since I don't think they were in a time out - someone check the videos please. So they probably ran the previous play.I wouldn't put it pass Lin to change it up to get the Wiz confused - looked like a decision from the floor rather than from the coaches - unless they had a time out before the reset. The timeout after that layup with Lin grabbing the marker, showed me a very engaged team - everyone was looking at the board, Parsons and Harden were on their feet and looking over Lin's shoulder, Garcia was pointing out things, Bev was tugging on someone to remind them,Lin was seen drawing a couple of "x" and was animated. and then after teh game, you can see Covington running after Lin into the tunnel, putting his arm around Lin's shoulder and saying something to him. Would love to get the inside scoop.

  • BrentYen says 8 months ago

    It's worth mentioning that Lin had a pretty neat contribution to that final play. On the foul play, Lin and Harden lined up on the far side of Howard. Lin ran around a Harden screen first, then brought his man around Howard, and then Harden ran around Howard's screen with Ariza. On the actual final play, the Rockets lined up in the same set. I think the announcers even pointed this out. Lin started running his man towards Harden, but then broke off before right in front of Harden. Both Lin's defender and Harden's defender were clearly a bit confused. Harden then made his cut while his defender was discombobulated, rammed his guy into Howard, and emerged into a ton of space because Lin and his defender weren't in that space (where they would have been had he finished his cut).

    I don't know if this was orchestrated by McHale, like show the same play but add a wrinkle to mess with them kind of thing, or if it was ad libbed by Lin. But it was pretty cool to watch.

    Not just Harden and Lin, D12 set the screen perfectly too, Harden was basically wide open after he catched the ball.

  • shirtless says 8 months ago

    In a weird way, I think only have four seconds left was helpful. There wasn't enough time to "setup" a 1-top 4-flat isolation. The Rockets were forced to run a quick decisive play.

  • shirtless says 8 months ago

    It's worth mentioning that Lin had a pretty neat contribution to that final play. On the foul play, Lin and Harden lined up on the far side of Howard. Lin ran around a Harden screen first, then brought his man around Howard, and then Harden ran around Howard's screen with Ariza. On the actual final play, the Rockets lined up in the same set. I think the announcers even pointed this out. Lin started running his man towards Harden, but then broke off before right in front of Harden. Both Lin's defender and Harden's defender were clearly a bit confused. Harden then made his cut while his defender was discombobulated, rammed his guy into Howard, and emerged into a ton of space because Lin and his defender weren't in that space (where they would have been had he finished his cut).

    I don't know if this was orchestrated by McHale, like show the same play but add a wrinkle to mess with them kind of thing, or if it was ad libbed by Lin. But it was pretty cool to watch.

  • SadLakerFan says 8 months ago "OK, James goes here, if I can get him the ball, he should dribble around for 20 seconds then shoot. If not, I come off the pick, get into the lane and jump as high as I can and then look for some one to outlet to. Rockets rule on 3."
  • feelingsupersonic says 8 months ago I definitely believe that besides the win, which of course is the most important thing, Harden within the framework of the play and with the help of his teammates really looked like a seasoned crunch time player getting the best available look at the basket that would help his team win. The lay up was the best scenario, the lob to Dwight was probably second, a Harden jumper would have been the third best scenario and so on. That he pushed to get the best outcome I find impressive.
  • RudyT1995 says 8 months ago

    JG, that pic. Lol.

    Lol Lin took the marker from McHale and everyone listened to him. Even Harden was listening. #floorgeneral

    You mean #sidelinegeneral

  • Knickabokkaz says 8 months ago

    Lol Lin took the marker from McHale and everyone listened to him. Even Harden was listening. #floorgeneral

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    JG - you are correct about the conversation between harden and ariza. The motor boating was funny.Is there any way to upload a video here?

    It doesn't work for everything, but I know that youtube videos work very well. In the text editor bar (that appears when you start typing a new post) there are 3 icons in the upper left hand corner (a light switch, an eraser, and a blue/green square chart looking thing). Click on the chart looking thing. A drop down menu appears. Select "media". Post the URL in the space provided and that's it.

    I'd love to see video of it again if you've got it. Here is a still to tide us over...

    DbuiEpr.png

  • Alituro says 8 months ago

    Also, as FSS already did, I would like to give kudos to McHale for drawing up a quality play. It was executed well. Had the help defender been able to get ahead of Harden and block his path Dwight was rolling right behind him for an easy dump off pass and dunk.

    It was a great play, Harden had 2 open shots available before his drive, one behind the arc and one at the top of the key.

  • Willk says 8 months ago

    Don't get me wrong. I get it about Harden's play. I do think he forced the contact by grabbing the jersey. Ariza swung an arm to try and get Harden's hand loose from his shirt and that is when Harden fell and the whistle blew--it was definitely a savvy move by Harden. Instead of calling it "dirty" maybe we can just call it morally ambiguous.

    I really want some video of that play and the post game chat they had. Did no one else see that? Harden said a few things to him and then motor-boated Ariza. It was weird :lol:

    JG - you are correct about the conversation between harden and ariza. The motor boating was funny.Is there any way to upload a video here?

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    Here is an article out of D.C. with Ariza and Wall talking about the play in question. LINK

    The video of the play is there. You can see Harden use his left hand to grab the jersey while bull-rushing him into Dwight's screen using his right hand. It's a great play because it worked out. I actually agree with Wall that a double foul probably should have been called. Had the refs seen it differently and called an offensive foul, and they easily could have, we would be having a different conversation today.

    I'm not complaining by any means. I just thought it was worth noting what actually happened.

    Perhaps this is a sign that Harden has learned something about end game situations. Last season he took his time figuring out the refs swallow their whistles at the end of games except for egregious fouls. It seems he not only understood that they wouldn't whistle him for grabbing, but would whistle Ariza for appearing to push him to the ground.

    Also, as FSS already did, I would like to give kudos to McHale for drawing up a quality play. It was executed well. Had the help defender been able to get ahead of Harden and block his path Dwight was rolling right behind him for an easy dump off pass and dunk.

  • Charles B says 8 months ago

    Don't get me wrong. I get it about Harden's play. I do think he forced the contact by grabbing the jersey. Ariza swung an arm to try and get Harden's hand loose from his shirt and that is when Harden fell and the whistle blew--it was definitely a savvy move by Harden. Instead of calling it "dirty" maybe we can just call it morally ambiguous.

    I really want some video of that play and the post game chat they had. Did no one else see that? Harden said a few things to him and then motor-boated Ariza. It was weird :lol:

    I am just happy we won. But the Rocket shouldn't have to put themselves into last night situation. They let the Wiz came back so many time from behind it isn't even funny. Let's just say God was on their side because the game could have got either way. Good job Harden!!

  • BrentYen says 8 months ago

    Don't get me wrong. I get it about Harden's play. I do think he forced the contact by grabbing the jersey. Ariza swung an arm to try and get Harden's hand loose from his shirt and that is when Harden fell and the whistle blew--it was definitely a savvy move by Harden. Instead of calling it "dirty" maybe we can just call it morally ambiguous.

    I really want some video of that play and the post game chat they had. Did no one else see that? Harden said a few things to him and then motor-boated Ariza. It was weird :lol:

    I saw that too, are they good friends?

  • dbd says 8 months ago

    Harden's heroic won us the game. Not hero ball. Some still don't know the difference.

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    Don't get me wrong. I get it about Harden's play. I do think he forced the contact by grabbing the jersey. Ariza swung an arm to try and get Harden's hand loose from his shirt and that is when Harden fell and the whistle blew--it was definitely a savvy move by Harden. Instead of calling it "dirty" maybe we can just call it morally ambiguous.

    I really want some video of that play and the post game chat they had. Did no one else see that? Harden said a few things to him and then motor-boated Ariza. It was weird :lol:

  • feelingsupersonic says 8 months ago

    Harden selling that foul was a veteran move Chris Paul would be proud.

    That's the best analysis I have seen about that play, good one Cooper. It's a big time play by a big time player with the game on the line. He could have allowed himself to be held, got frustrated and reacted negatively or play it smart and bait the defender. He exposed Ariza when he tried to slip his hand in the cookie jar.

  • Cooper says 8 months ago Harden selling that foul was a veteran move Chris Paul would be proud.
  • Mitchell Felker says 8 months ago

    I saw on Truth About It this morning that they were complaining about Harden flopping on Ariza's last foul. At no time in the run up to the whistle did Ariza not have at least one arm (but most of the time both) wrapped around Harden. Harden gave it a sell at the end, but it certainly wasn't a flop.

  • YaoMan says 8 months ago

    That was a torture of a game to watch! After being up by 19 to see Ariza go "Chandler Parsons" on us was scary.

    Although Harden was definitely the hero and got the Rockets the win, there was a possession or two before the final one where he did exactly as Thorpe mentioned. Rockets were down by two and Harden dribbled between the legs, two jab dribbles and a stand still crossover before 3 seconds left on a shot clock and a pass to Lin with a defender in his face and a shot clock violation. This is what Thorpe was referring to in Harden being the ball stopper like Melo. This is the Harden I cringe at. The Harden I like is one that splits to defender from a Dwight pick and euro-steps his way to the cup for 2. That was like the worst and best of Harden in the last minute of the game. Hopefully we see more of the Best!

    JohnnyGold, I wouldn't call that in bounds foul play dirty...borderline but not dirty. We see superstars get away with a lot of things a lot more blatant than that so I think James knew what he could do to entice a call. But I agree with you completely about not making Ariza the goat here. I also believe the Wizards to be underrated and they have pulled some wins over quality teams. They do lack depth and but they have both size in the front court and speed in the back court which can make for a deadly combination.

    Anyway, a win is a win. Whether by 30 or 1 point, it makes no difference in the standings. I also think it helps to win a few close games especially considering they had a season high in turnovers. I noticed the box score and every Rocket player who saw the floor had at least a turnover. They were just giving it away last night!

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    I agree that Washington is underrated. They have some nice players. They lack depth (except at SF) so when guys got injured it hurt worse than it does for other teams. At full strength they are tough.

    While I won't give Harden a pass on defense I also won't fully blame him for Ariza shooting 10-14 and nailing 7 in a row. Sometimes that just happens. Ariza has shot pretty well from deep all season (40%). He is also chipping in 1.9 steals/game. Good for him.

    Here is Lin's "play calling". This was after we took the lead and they were planning their defense.

    ibdk0byizWsEBC.gif

  • Steven says 8 months ago

    Imagine the free reign that Harden or Lin would have slashing to basket if you had Omer AND Dwight setting good screens... Still super disappointed that the grand experiment to play both of them at the same time didn't work out.

    It was never going to work out. You can't have two guys on the court that can't constantly hit a 15' jumper. It clogs the lanes for the drivers, and the shooters' man don't have to sag off them, because an extra man is already in the lane. So not only can you not drive, you can't kick it out if you do happen to drive.
  • bladad says 8 months ago

    Yes, that was an impressive pick... Speaking of impressive picks, did anybody see the sick one Omer set for Harden at around :36 left of the 1st? He repeated it again in the 4th or late 3rd. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Asik sets the most devastating screens in the league. One reason is because his philosophy centers around giving the ball handler the best opportunity to score, him getting the ball on the roll is not a desirable option, even to him. The result is he positions his body perfectly based on the ball handlers directional preferences in order to pick up as many defenders as he can. He also waits until the handler is well clear before releasing, and trailing the shot for a put back (which is exactly what you want him to do). Last play of the game excluded, because D12 wasn't an option on the play, Dwight doesn't put as much thought into his screens, and releases early to maybe get it on the roll. This does not give the handler the best chance to score. Don't get me wrong, it's a great option with Dwight because he is the best in the league off the roll. However it proves more challenging for the handler. Harden absolutely feasts off Omer's screens and the lack of these of any consistency, may be the one factor in Harden's drop in efficiency between last season and this one. Not saying I prefer Omer over Dwight, but he is a SWEET option to have either if Dwight is off one night, or especially if Harden is having a tough time getting involved in any particular game.

    Imagine the free reign that Harden or Lin would have slashing to basket if you had Omer AND Dwight setting good screens... Still super disappointed that the grand experiment to play both of them at the same time didn't work out.

  • Alituro says 8 months ago

    It was a play McHale drew so yes credit where credit is due, great job to McHale. Good execution by the team and credit to James for being so dominant in the last few minutes of games but if you want to give a supporting cast award it looks like Dwight with his picks for Harden on the catch and drive for the layup gets the nod in my opinion.

    Yes, that was an impressive pick... Speaking of impressive picks, did anybody see the sick one Omer set for Harden at around :36 left of the 1st? He repeated it again in the 4th or late 3rd. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Asik sets the most devastating screens in the league. One reason is because his philosophy centers around giving the ball handler the best opportunity to score, him getting the ball on the roll is not a desirable option, even to him. The result is he positions his body perfectly based on the ball handlers directional preferences in order to pick up as many defenders as he can. He also waits until the handler is well clear before releasing, and trailing the shot for a put back (which is exactly what you want him to do). Last play of the game excluded, because D12 wasn't an option on the play, Dwight doesn't put as much thought into his screens, and releases early to maybe get it on the roll. This does not give the handler the best chance to score. Don't get me wrong, it's a great option with Dwight because he is the best in the league off the roll. However it proves more challenging for the handler. Harden absolutely feasts off Omer's screens and the lack of these of any consistency, may be the one factor in Harden's drop in efficiency between last season and this one. Not saying I prefer Omer over Dwight, but he is a SWEET option to have either if Dwight is off one night, or especially if Harden is having a tough time getting involved in any particular game.

  • Bigtkirk says 8 months ago

    The Wizards are an up and coming team, with four players having generated more than 3.5 Wins Produced. They definitely are not a pushover anymore.

  • feelingsupersonic says 8 months ago It was a play McHale drew so yes credit where credit is due, great job to McHale. Good execution by the team and credit to James for being so dominant in the last few minutes of games but if you want to give a supporting cast award it looks like Dwight with his picks for Harden on the catch and drive for the layup gets the nod in my opinion.
  • SDrake says 8 months ago

    I think the game was an excellent example of the great and the awful that Harden can bring to the team. He had an awesome night scoring, but his turnovers and lack of defense on Ariza (career high in scoring) negated much of his scoring. Had Harden played defense, the game is never close as it should be when playing a lesser team like the Wizards.

  • linonlyfan says 8 months ago

    The last play was very good. Jeremy Lin played first mover decoy which allowed Harden to get the ball and attack a closeout with his defender just having fought over a Howard screen. Essentially this put Harden into his best skill set, beating the help defender with a slithering Eurostep without the burden of beating his first defender. He also Iced those free throws. Great play from a great player with great team work.

    I didn't get a 2nd look but the Wall foul to go ahead looked like it should have been a no call to me. Howard did a great job of going vertical and not reaching down.

    I only cringe when Harden goes into his low crouch stationary between the legs dribble with everyone in the arena looking at him. Even if he is attacking a mismatch I'm starting to think that is a very very low percentage play for Houston. I only ever see a step back 3 or a wing pass resulting from this. I think McHale should ban him from doing this and from passing off after doing this so someone else gets the missed shot or turnover. If he goes into I'm the man mode he should at least penetrate and draw before passing the ball.

  • BrentYen says 8 months ago I think he was confirming all possible options with key players. But it is funny to see him took the pen from McHale and start to draw..
  • PhillyCheese says 8 months ago

    Did anyone notice Lin drawing upa play at .7 sec left in game?

  • senkay says 8 months ago

    johnny,

    I agree! But, that's getting it done. Looks like they are learning how to win together. Whatever it takes! East coast old school.

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    For everyone blaming Ariza for that last foul--not so fast! James Harden used his left hand and grabbed Ariza's jersey, pulling him in close so the refs couldn't see it, and as he dragged him through that Dwight screen Ariza eventually tried to get Harden to let go and that is when Harden was "fouled". It was a heady play--dirty--but heady.

    Immediately after the game, Harden ran over to Ariza and apologized for it (at least that is what it looked like to me). There was a playful demeanor between them, but James and Trevor both knew what had happened.

    I can't seem to find a video clip of it, but if I do I will post it.

    I'll take the win either way :)

  • Red94 says 8 months ago New post: Houston Rockets 113, Washington Wizards 112: I guess Harden-ball can work after all.
    By: Paul McGuire

    If the aphorism that a championship team can win games even when they play badly is true, then the Houston Rockets should start planning the parade right about now.  Sure, Trevor Ariza just got hot from downtown, and sure the Rockets did shoot extremely well themselves, and sure Dwight Howard made Marcin Gortat and Nene look silly, and Harden put up 35 points, and Donatas Motiejunas 11 to help the bench.  But the reality is that 9 times out of 10, with Houston down 2 points with 4 seconds left and having failed to make a field goal in nearly 5 minutes, the Rockets would have lost this game largely due to shoddy perimeter defense and an absolutely unacceptable passing game which created a ludicrous 26 turnovers.  But a poor foul from Trevor Ariza and a clutch layup from James Harden meant that the Rockets did not so much as win as more they escaped.

    The turnovers, really, should receive the first focus of the game, even more so than Harden’s heroics. Bill Worrell, Houston’s commentator, stated at one point that the Rockets had not turned the ball over more than 20 times in around 30 games.  I’ll admit that this was a pleasant surprise and a nice change from the beginning of the season, when handing out 20 turnovers seemed to happen more often than not. Washington is one of the very best teams in the league at forcing turnovers, and they have the long, athletic player in Ariza, John Wall, and Martell Webster to do it.  But a lot of Houston’s turnovers were Jeremy Lin, Harden, and Howard trying out passes that they had no business attempting, as those three players combined for 16 of the 26 turnovers.  The last five minutes are a good example, as Houston had three turnovers in that stretch.  Lin attempted a foolish half-court pass to Dwight which got picked off, Dwight attempted a bad cross-court pass to Lin, and Terrence Jones shuffled his feet.  To top it off, the fact that so many turnovers were the result of bad passes meant that Washington got the opportunity to push the ball in transition, bolstering their anemic half-court offense.  It was without a doubt the single worst thing about this game, much more so than Trevor Ariza catching fire in the third quarter.

    Oh.  Right.  Ariza.  Ariza had played decently well for the first two quarters of the game, but with 3:31 left in the 3rd quarter, the Rockets were leading by 19, and Nene really had been the best Washington player at that point.  But over the next 3 minutes, the Wizards hit 6 straight 3 pointers.  5 of them were by Ariza, who hit a career high 10 3-pointers and went 7-7 in the third.  A lot of Ariza’s earlier threes were the result of bad defense, especially from Harden’s ball-watching habits.  But even after the Rockets latched onto Ariza at the end of the 3rd quarter, he continued to hit anyways, just like Chandler Parsons’s valiant effort against the Memphis Grizzlies.  Fortunately, Ariza was shut down in the 4th quarter, but the Wizards did retake the lead of Houston turnovers until Harden saved the day.

    As for Harden?  Rahat has discussed in the past his own concerns about Harden-ball in the last few minutes, but I take a different perspective.  I remember how the Kevin Martin-Luis Scola-Aaron Brooks Rockets, even with an offensive mastermind in Rick Adelman at the helm, struggled badly at the end of games because the time limitations meant that running plays was difficult and Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks are not exactly players who should be receiving the ball at the end of the game.  Scoring at the end of games is difficult in general.  Tonight, however, the Rockets were able to ride Harden over the final two possessions, and it resulted in free throws and an absolutely spectacular layup to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

    Ultimately, the victory over Washington is not one which should go down in the annals of great victories.  But a win is a win, 7 wins in a row is still good, and the Houston Rockets could very well be tied in 3rd place at the All-Star break depending on the results of tonight’s Clippers-Blazers game.  For now, I guess I’ll take it.

  • txtdo1411 says 8 months ago What a game! I hate giving up the lead, but I'll take a win with 26 turnovers and Ariza hitting 10 3s. I can't wait to read the write up and post game comments about this one.
  • Dan G says 8 months ago

    Tonight is an important game. If we win and the Clippers beat the Trail Blazers, we will be tied for the 3rd seed going into the All-Star break.

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    Should be a good game. I like watching Nene, Wall, and Beal--even Ariza a little bit.

    Was just looking at the overall standings in the NBA. The 9th place Memphis Grizzlies (28-23) would be in 3rd place in the East--1 game ahead of Toronto (27-24). What a joke. The Knicks (20-31) are only 2.5 games out of the 8th seed.

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