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Houston Rockets 115, Milwaukee Bucks 101 – Rockets Rally behind Harden and Delfino

Despite trailing by 18 in the second quarter, the Houston Rockets flipped the script on the Milwaukee Bucks to end the game on top by 14. James Harden had yet another scorching game, but the Rockets also got a big game out of ex-Buck Carlos Delfino, who buried three after three to put his old team away in Milwaukee. The Rockets continue to show growth and grit, and are finding new ways to win.

Early in the game, the Rockets and Bucks seemed to have traded places somewhere in Milwaukee, with the Bucks leading the way with fast breaks and quick cuts to the basket, including some impressive finishes by Monta Ellis. The Rockets looked out of sorts and couldn’t seem to get into their offensive groove, falling behind by 18 points in the second quarter. The Bucks’ defense, while not up to the heights of the Bogut era, looked solid and cut off the easy path to the basket for Houston. Jeremy Lin went scoreless in the first half, and only Harden, Asik and Douglas seemed to show signs of life.

After halftime, the Rockets looked refreshed and reinvigorated, much to the credit of Kevin McHale and the coaching staff. McHale’s rotations and defensive schemes have looked increasingly solid as the season has progressed, and the Bucks found their easy avenues to the basket drying up. After his hot first half, Ellis ended the night with only 12 points on 5-19 shooting, while his rival James Harden simply detonated. Behind a flurry of Rockets steals, Bucks turnovers, and a hastened pace, Harden and the Rockets quickly sliced into the Bucks’ 11 point halftime lead and never looked back.

Harden ended the evening with 29 points on 11-18 shooting, continuing his streak of brutal efficiency. He was also one of three players to lead the team with 7 assists, the others being Parsons and Lin. Harden wasn’t going it alone, however; Carlos Delfino woke up in the second half and rained threes on his old team, racking up 22 points in the process. Delfino hit 6 of his 7 threes, including a late turnaround dagger that looked nearly impossible. He also pulled off a spinning, one-handed dunk to quiet the crowd.

Jeremy Lin led the team tonight in stitches applied, after knocking heads with Larry Sanders while trying for a loose ball. Lin left the court in the third to get his head repaired and returned to start the fourth quarter. Despite a nasty bump on the side of his head, Lin finished the game with gusto, cutting to the rim for 8 points in the second half.

Patrick Patterson and Toney Douglas came off the bench to anchor the reserve unit that Delfino was leading and looked very effective while doing it. Douglas continued to score with aplomb, picking up 18 points on 8-14 shooting. His numbers were boosted by his attention to fast break opportunities, which he ran out on early and often. Patterson, for his part, got his own 18 points on precision shooting (6-7 overall, 3-4 from deep). He may not relish the idea of Marcus Morris starting ahead of him, but if his sixth-man position is driving him to play well, it shows. His shot is looking smooth and he’s happy to make the defense pay when they collapse off of him.

Parsons had another poor shooting night, picking up only 5 points, but notching 7 rebounds and 7 assists in the process. It’s unclear what’s bothering his shot lately, but he remains able to contribute wherever a need arises on any given night. Morris also grabbed 7 boards, but shot an oh-fer to go scoreless on the night. He played capable defense in his 24 minutes, though, and his energy and intensity seems to go a long way to keep him out of McHale’s doghouse.  Greg smith played for only 2 minutes and somehow recorded no stats whatsoever.

The Rockets now move to 13-2 against the east and 19-14 overall. The Houston squad’s continued growth and chemistry is resulting in a team that looks like a threat to win any game, even ones where they trail big. Whether this kind of tiring, hustle play can continue all season long has yet to be seen, much less whether teams will begin building effective defenses to blunt it. For the moment, however, the Rockets are one of the hottest teams in the league, and fans of exciting basketball should pay attention.

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  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    wintee, on 05 January 2013 - 23:44 PM said:


    the more i read this site, it becoming clear this is a anti Lin site.


  • wintee says 1 YEAR ago the more i read this site, it becoming clear this is a anti Lin site.
  • Bigtkirk says 1 YEAR ago Good win, but not without troubling indications. Given how well he has played this season, how on earth does McHale justify playing Smith for only a couple of minutes during garbage time?
  • PKM says 1 YEAR ago Definitely think something should have been stated about the fact that after having it not show up for this season so far, McHale went back to playing Patterson at the 5 like he did last year. It worked out in the end, but it was definitely aggravating to watch it in the second quarter.
  • Red94 says 1 YEAR ago New post: Houston Rockets 115, Milwaukee Bucks 101 - Rockets Rally behind Harden and Delfino
  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago In the first half Henson was dominating Patterson on the boards - it was actually quite painful to watch. Mind you, the start of the third quarter by the Bucks might just be the worst stretch of basketball I've seen in quite a while so that probably wins in the "what was more painful" stakes. It took them a minute to actually get a shot off, and even then they were 0-10 before they could get anything to fall.

    Also, Delfino's dunk in the second half was awesome. Hope that's up there in the top 10.

    ST
  • Jeby says 1 YEAR ago Also, a pair of observations from the very frustrating 2nd quarter..
    1. On two or three possessions in a row with Harden on the bench, Toney Douglas initiated the offense while Lin spotted up in the corner. Predictably, the offense fell to pieces. McHale should never, ever, ever let that happen again. Like, ever.
    2. The Bucks have a very mobile, yet rail-thin, frontcourt engineered to react to dribble penetration, but which can be abused in the low post. The Rockets went to the post just once to try to score in that stretch. The result? Patterson bullied Larry Sanders (may have been Henson) down to about 2-feet from the basket and was then fouled by Dunleavy who came over to help. As PPatt's post potency continues to grow, I'd like to see them go to him there more than one possession per game.
  • Jeby says 1 YEAR ago Well, Carlos Delfino has a full-fledged "eff-you" mode. Who knew?
  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago Huh, Skiles has already made my lineup scouting report irrelevant by starting Mbah a Moute at SF so they can put him on Harden and then starting Udoh. They've also got Udrih back and playing, despite it being reported he'd be out tonight.

    ST

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