Houston Rockets 116, Portland Trail Blazers 101: No threes, no worries

In Houston’s ongoing experiment to see how many turnovers they can rack up and still win games, the running total seems to be right around tonight’s 20. Apart from an embarrassing turn in Los Angeles, the Rockets have won four of their first five games, and have done so despite serious issues. The three pointers weren’t falling as the Rockets battled the Portland Trail Blazers, but it didn’t matter when the final buzzer sounded. With a pair of superstars going at full speed, entire bushels of turnovers and misses can mean nothing.

Those superstars made a dramatic turnaround compared to last night’s sordid affair, bouncing back to contribute 62 points between them. Harden made zero effort on defense against the Clippers, but turned around and improved that against the Blazers. He still won’t win any awards, but at least he seemed to want to contribute. He also contributed by scoring 33 points on 18 shots, a return to his efficient ways. His two blocks were nice to have, but his 8 (!!!!!) turnovers keyed a trend for the team.

Dwight Howard joined in the fun, racking up 6 turnovers himself. It was a small price to pay compared to his line, an astonishing 29 points on 13 shots to go with 15 rebounds. Howard’s post  moves, while still far from refined, were good enough to punish Robin Lopez inside. He also completed a pair of magical lobs, an event of increasing regularity for Houston. As his familiarity with the team increases, Howard will only score more points off lobs and picks.

The biggest surprise of the evening was the return of Patrick Beverley, a player scheduled to take another week to return from a torn rib muscle. Beverley’s defense and hustle were sorely missed in Houston, and helped key a second unit that more than held its own. He chased down each of his 4 rebounds and had near misses on a few more. Aaron Brooks was more capable in a backup role than the preseason implied, but Beverley is on another level. His return will help Houston stick by their defensive guns for more that a quarter at a time.

Speaking of defense, Ömer Aşık chipped in as well, had a solid evening on that end as well. His defense on LaMarcus Aldridge was impressive, though Aldridge’s final line of 9-19 shooting was nothing to scoff at. The so-called Twin towers seem to be slowly figuring each other out, and are especially effective against teams with large, traditional power forwards. The Rockets defense put together a stretch of five and a half minutes to start the second half in which Portland failed to score at all. Not coincidentally, the move to a small ball signaled the return of Portland’s Lillard-fueled offense.

In the Omri Casspi watch, Omri came out and delivered another solid box score. In limited minutes he picked up 7 points on 4 shots, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. He’s giving it his all, a quality Houston values and rewards with minutes. Casspi looks to continue getting game time, especially if he can continue to surpass Chandler Parsons on the box score (4-11 shooting, 9 pts, 6 rebounds, 2 steals), his future is bright.

Jeremy Lin continues his streak of solid performances, notching 12 points on 8 shots and letting fly with lobs from time to time. His ability to score around the cup, especially of fast breaks, has become increasingly critical. His defense may not be in the same arena as Beverley’s but he’s more important from a pick and roll and scoring perspective. Lin has quietly had a solid season thus far, with the pressure having been lifter from his shoulders.

With one exception, every game seems to be a half-step further in the path to midseason form for the Rockets. They aren’t on the same level as the Clippers at this moment, but have a great amount of room to improve. If the Rockets can start defending the perimeter and holding onto the ball, there’s no telling what they could do. But today, warts and all, the Rockets effortlessly built a double digit lead in the second half. Now they just have to learn how to get rid of the warts.

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  • rocketrick says 10 months ago

    Lin has the better contract which is why Dragic ended up in Phoenix. I personally don't see the Rockets changing their minds now. Besides, I believe Lin brings more to the current Rockets roster than Dragic would.

  • Sir Thursday says 10 months ago

    What backup PG (maybe a vet?) should the Rockets target that would be better than Jeremy Lin?

    Bledsoe is tearing it up in Phoenix...maybe we can get Gogi back?

    (Although personally I don't think we should be looking to trade Lin at this point. It's time to keep the team as it is and let it gel).

    ST

  • rockets best fan says 10 months ago

    OK, so after PB missed pretty much the 1st 4 games of the season, how many of us truly are fine with the Rockets trading away Lin and counting on AB to pick up the slack? AB is fine and has his moments, but I for one am not even close to being ready to handing him over the keys to the Rockets for 30-36 minutes per game. Canaan is a long, long way from being a consistent rotation player and I believe it would be quite disastrous for the Rockets to have to rely on AB and Canaan to run things were PB out with another injury and Lin traded away.

    so with this statement are you assuming Beverly will not be a healthy player? if so, I disagree. I would trade J-Lin in a NY minute if the right deal came along. we don't necessarily need another PG for Lin......we have enough depth there with Brooks backing up Beverly. we need a true backup SG or a Backup center. in all likely hood Lin and Asik will be moved within the same deal so it may be to address our PF spot also

  • BrentYen says 10 months ago

    What backup PG (maybe a vet?) should the Rockets target that would be better than Jeremy Lin?

    IDK, so far I hope he stays.

  • rocketrick says 10 months ago

    I said I woudlnt trade Lin and clearly stated Lin was a better player. I do like Andre millers game though.


    I concur and would also add that Lin brings more to this Rockets team than Andre Miller ever could.
  • rocketrick says 10 months ago

    I don't see Beverly as fragile after a minor abdominal tear. That's not like a back or knee injury that plagues you for the rest of your career.

    On the other hand, anything can happen to a dynamic PG (cf. Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook...). So I think you're right - maybe a Lin trade isn't as likely anymore, especially if Lin can also add depth at SG.


    I concur with your thought and would only add that Lin already adds depth at SG as evidenced by the fact Coach McHale plays Lin and PB together while Harden is resting on the bench.
  • junglejim says 10 months ago

    OK, so after PB missed pretty much the 1st 4 games of the season, how many of us truly are fine with the Rockets trading away Lin and counting on AB to pick up the slack? AB is fine and has his moments, but I for one am not even close to being ready to handing him over the keys to the Rockets for 30-36 minutes per game. Canaan is a long, long way from being a consistent rotation player and I believe it would be quite disastrous for the Rockets to have to rely on AB and Canaan to run things were PB out with another injury and Lin traded away.

    I don't see Beverly as fragile after a minor abdominal tear. That's not like a back or knee injury that plagues you for the rest of your career.

    On the other hand, anything can happen to a dynamic PG (cf. Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook...). So I think you're right - maybe a Lin trade isn't as likely anymore, especially if Lin can also add depth at SG.

  • Cooper says 10 months ago I said I woudlnt trade Lin and clearly stated Lin was a better player. I do like Andre millers game though.
  • rocketrick says 10 months ago

    Not that he's better than Lin but Andre miller would be cheap and is a solid veteran backup. Would be an interesting add as he is big enough to play a little SG as well which we need but certainly wouldn't trade Lin for him.

    Forgive me for asking, but is it necessary for the Rockets to go cheap with their PG's at the current time? I don't understand your premise.

    I would rather have pricier and more productive PG than a cheap and less productive PG. Andre Miller 3 point shooting is atrocious on top of that. He certainly has less skill on the defensive end than Lin in my opinion, too.

    I'm just confused as to why it is so important to trade Jeremy Lin at this time? Or even to consider it if all we're getting back is cheap and less productive.

  • Cooper says 10 months ago Not that he's better than Lin but Andre miller would be cheap and is a solid veteran backup. Would be an interesting add as he is big enough to play a little SG as well which we need but certainly wouldn't trade Lin for him.
  • rocketrick says 10 months ago

    Well, obviously Houston will try to get a backup PG (maybe a vet?) back somehow, if the trade does happen. Otherwise, Harden will have to play that role with PB, might not be a good thing.

    What backup PG (maybe a vet?) should the Rockets target that would be better than Jeremy Lin?

  • BrentYen says 10 months ago

    Well, obviously Houston will try to get a backup PG (maybe a vet?) back somehow, if the trade does happen. Otherwise, Harden will have to play that role with PB, might not be a good thing.

  • rocketrick says 10 months ago

    We could have drafted a wing instead of Canaan (three decent PGs is plenty), but unfortunately Daryl Morey seems to be planning to trade away Lin at some point. Boooo

    OK, so after PB missed pretty much the 1st 4 games of the season, how many of us truly are fine with the Rockets trading away Lin and counting on AB to pick up the slack? AB is fine and has his moments, but I for one am not even close to being ready to handing him over the keys to the Rockets for 30-36 minutes per game. Canaan is a long, long way from being a consistent rotation player and I believe it would be quite disastrous for the Rockets to have to rely on AB and Canaan to run things were PB out with another injury and Lin traded away.

  • BrentYen says 10 months ago

    Even if he is 100% healthy, he need to shake some rust off as well.

  • rocketrick says 10 months ago

    I seriously doubt Patrick Beverly is 100% healthy, might that have something to do with Lillard blowing by him on occasion?

    It's practically impossible for any NBA player to come back from injury at perfect 100% health once the regular season starts.

  • BrentYen says 10 months ago It is just one game, the first game that PB returned. So I would not read too much into it. j_wehr's tally was pretty representative about the D performance between Lin and PB yesterday. But if the fact is Lin performed better and ppl says otherwise, it is understandable that the argument would be challenged. Otherwise, it would become the opposite of propaganda. I personally think they both played excellent yesterday, no doubt. Blame game is the last thing we should do IMO.
  • j_wehr says 10 months ago

    By my tally, Jeremy Lin made 3 excellent defensive plays and comitted 3 defensive flubs last night, and PB made 4 excellent defensive plays and committed 7 defensive flubs. And they played the same number of minutes. So yes, I had Lin as the better overall defender last night. But it's just one game (and PB's first game back).

    I think Lin has been excellent. My tally system has him as the most credit-worthy Rocket so far this season.

  • thejohnnygold says 10 months ago

    I'm sorry Jase L (Welcome to the forum!), but that post smells like propaganda to me--it affords little context aside from listing on/off times (although it ignores times they spent on the court together without designation of who guarded who, were there switches, was Lin/Bev out of position because Harden was failing at his job?). The bottom line is Lillard shot 7-17 from the field. He was 4-9 from three (and most of those were deep threes and assisted which means the defense was caught rotating). That leaves 3-12 from inside the arc. Only two of those came at the rim (and I believe 1 was on a fast break). Even if they all came in the half court, is it not the job of the wing defenders to funnel the penetration to guys like Asik/Howard?

    I say both did an excellent job--the only thing that made Lillard's line respectable was the decent 3 pt. shooting. If Lillard has to jack up 9 three's (making 4) and only gets two buckets at the rim I would say that is good defense (Lin and Bev each let him get by them). Bev also drew a charge on Lillard.

    I'm sorry, but that post smacks of bias. They both played well. Lillard's threes may have fallen better while Bev was on the floor, but the game plan was the same. Also, it was not Beverley that allowed that fast break. If people want to play the blame game they should really do their homework lest some jerk like me with too much spare time comes along.

    By the way, here is the LINK to the play-by-play...don't take my word for it...decide for yourselves.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 10 months ago We get caught up in stereotypes such as PB is such a great defender that we forget to analyze each game separately.
  • BrentYen says 10 months ago

    Seriously, these guys are professionals. If this was a team like the Kings, Suns or any others at the bottom of the league, who know they are not going anywhere near the playoffs this season, then a "demotion" from the starting spot may be able to be construed as a slap in the face. Simply because they are trying to build their own value in order to attract attention of contenders. When they're part of a solid 8-man rotation on a true contender, I seriously doubt that either Lin or Beverley (or Asik for that matter) gives a crap who is on the floor at tip-off. They know they will get their minutes. The only people who truly feel a slap in their face in this situation are.... LOFs who want to see him coming out of the tunnel with the spotlights with Howard, Harden, Parsons, and Asik. So far, as a Rockets fan, I trust McHale to put the best possible lineup in the game at any given moment.

    I think he just wanna point out that Lin played better defense than PB yesterday. And seems like most articles, including the OP says otherwise.

  • BrentYen says 10 months ago

    Jeremy Lin being traded away this season seems very unlikely to me.

    Why is that?

  • Alituro says 10 months ago

    It was nice to have PB back, definitely an upgrade from Brooks at backup (though he has been good also). But honestly Lin did play better defense on Lilliard yesterday. I think bigger guards like Lilliard does give PB more trouble staying in front of due to his small size. Jeremy is pretty fast and tall for a PG so he can stay in front of Lillard. Quite a few times Lillard just blew by PB. But maybe PB is also rusty from not playing for a week.

    But in all fairness to Jeremy Lin, who has played very solid and shooting very efficiently, he has done nothing to not deserve the starting spot. Even if McHale wants to start PB for some games (which is fine depending on match up), at least for now Jeremy Lin has done everything right to keep his starting job. Demoting him to the bench when he's playing well is sort of slap in the face, even if he will have more freedom with the 2nd unit.

    Seriously, these guys are professionals. If this was a team like the Kings, Suns or any others at the bottom of the league, who know they are not going anywhere near the playoffs this season, then a "demotion" from the starting spot may be able to be construed as a slap in the face. Simply because they are trying to build their own value in order to attract attention of contenders. When they're part of a solid 8-man rotation on a true contender, I seriously doubt that either Lin or Beverley (or Asik for that matter) gives a crap who is on the floor at tip-off. They know they will get their minutes. The only people who truly feel a slap in their face in this situation are.... LOFs who want to see him coming out of the tunnel with the spotlights with Howard, Harden, Parsons, and Asik. So far, as a Rockets fan, I trust McHale to put the best possible lineup in the game at any given moment.

  • goRockets says 10 months ago

    It was nice to have PB back, definitely an upgrade from Brooks at backup (though he has been good also). But honestly Lin did play better defense on Lilliard yesterday. I think bigger guards like Lilliard does give PB more trouble staying in front of due to his small size. Jeremy is pretty fast and tall for a PG so he can stay in front of Lillard. Quite a few times Lillard just blew by PB. But maybe PB is also rusty from not playing for a week.

    But in all fairness to Jeremy Lin, who has played very solid and shooting very efficiently, he has done nothing to not deserve the starting spot. Even if McHale wants to start PB for some games (which is fine depending on match up), at least for now Jeremy Lin has done everything right to keep his starting job. Demoting him to the bench when he's playing well is sort of slap in the face, even if he will have more freedom with the 2nd unit.

  • Alituro says 10 months ago

    I agree that the Rockets are short one more wing player at the current time. I have mentioned that before in other forums prior to the regular season starting. For sure, Ronnie Brewer can fill in on the defensive end but I would anticipate his minutes will be limited due to his "offensive" lack of offense. Right now the Rockets simply can't afford one of Parsons, Casspi or Francisco to miss significant time because we just don't have enough depth.

    I can understand any hesitance to fill Brewer in at the 2 in case of Garcia and Harden going down, simply due to his gross, physical inability to shoot. However his defense is stellar and he is actually a very good distributor and facilitator on offense, he has great court vision and can pull off very creative and crafty passes and he knows how to protect the ball while in his hands. In a situation like this, if he were to be paired with a shoot-first guard, like Lin, I think they can both thrive well together. It's not an ideal situation, but if such an injury was not season-ending, then I think we can weather the storm pretty well with what we have.

    You serious regarding Lin vs Bev defense? We watching the same game?
    I've copied this from a contributor on another forum:
    Truth of Beverley's "great" defense today....

    Welcome to the forum! Here at Red94 we don't consider the Beverley/Lin conundrum to be a conundrum at all, nor a competition between the two. We are blessed to have two very high quality PGs to play as we see fit. Lin did have a very good defensive outing last night, the whole team did, but the same can't be said for every game, such as the Clippers. No one can deny that Beverley plays with tremendous hustle every time he is on the floor, and that possibly, and we'll see on Saturday, that he could have been a game changer against the Clips.

  • rocketrick says 10 months ago

    I agree that the Rockets are short one more wing player at the current time. I have mentioned that before in other forums prior to the regular season starting. For sure, Ronnie Brewer can fill in on the defensive end but I would anticipate his minutes will be limited due to his "offensive" lack of offense. Right now the Rockets simply can't afford one of Parsons, Casspi or Francisco to miss significant time because we just don't have enough depth.

  • rocketrick says 10 months ago

    We could have drafted a wing instead of Canaan (three decent PGs is plenty), but unfortunately Daryl Morey seems to be planning to trade away Lin at some point. Boooo

    Jeremy Lin being traded away this season seems very unlikely to me.

  • junglejim says 10 months ago

    Seems like the rotation is 8 players long: H&H, Parsons&Asik, Lin&Bev, Garcia&Casspi.

    The coaching stuff trusts AB at PG, and hopefully one of the PFs will be good enough as the filler in 4-5. However, there is no good wing to step up in case of injury to Harden/Garcia. IMHO if we make a trade it must bring someone in that role.

    We could have drafted a wing instead of Canaan (three decent PGs is plenty), but unfortunately Daryl Morey seems to be planning to trade away Lin at some point. Boooo

  • Jase L says 10 months ago

    You serious regarding Lin vs Bev defense? We watching the same game?

    I've copied this from a contributor on another forum:

    Truth of Beverley's "great" defense today.


    1st Quarter


    - Jeremy leaves game at the 6:07 mark of 1st Q. (Lillard 7 pts. 0 assist,1pt from technical free throw)


    - Beverley guards Lillard til end of 1st Q. (Lillard 7 pts. 3 assist


    2nd Quarter


    - Lin starts the 2nd Q with Beverley. Beverley assigned to guard Lillard.


    - Beverley leaves at the 7:29 mark of 2nd Q. (Lillard 12 pts, 3 assist)


    - Beverley back in at the 1:58 mark. (Lillard 12 pts, 3 assist)


    3rd Quarter


    - Beverley replaces Lin at the 5:12 mark of 3rd Q. (Lillard 12pts, 4 assist)


    - Beverley finishes quarter. Lin on Bench. (Lillard 14 pts. 4 assist)


    4th Quarter


    - Both start the 4th .


    - Lin sub out at the 9:52 mark of 4th Q. Beverley still in. (Lillard 14 pts., 4 assist)


    - Lin back in at the 2:34 mark of 4th Q. Beverley still in. (Lillard 22 pts., 5 assist)


    - Lillard, Beverley out at the 1:11 mark of the 4th


    So This is the so call Beverley lockdown defense??????


    Lin gave Lillard 6 pts. and 1 assist.


    Beverley gave Lillard 15 pts. and 4 assist.


    Lillard's 1 pt came from technical FT.


    Hmmmmmmmm. Make you wonder about what people are talking about.

  • redfaithful says 10 months ago

    Seems like the rotation is 8 players long: H&H, Parsons&Asik, Lin&Bev, Garcia&Casspi.

    The coaching stuff trusts AB at PG, and hopefully one of the PFs will be good enough as the filler in 4-5. However, there is no good wing to step up in case of injury to Harden/Garcia. IMHO if we make a trade it must bring someone in that role.

  • Red94 says 10 months ago New post: Houston Rockets 116, Portland Trail Blazers 101: No threes, no worries
    By: Forrest Walker

    In Houston's ongoing experiment to see how many turnovers they can rack up and still win games, the running total seems to be right around tonight's 20. Apart from an embarrassing turn in Los Angeles, the Rockets have won four of their first five games, and have done so despite serious issues. The three pointers weren't falling as the Rockets battled the Portland Trail Blazers, but it didn't matter when the final buzzer sounded. With a pair of superstars going at full speed, entire bushels of turnovers and misses can mean nothing.

    Those superstars made a dramatic turnaround compared to last night's sordid affair, bouncing back to contribute 62 points between them. Harden made zero effort on defense against the Clippers, but turned around and improved that against the Blazers. He still won't win any awards, but at least he seemed to want to contribute. He also contributed by scoring 33 points on 18 shots, a return to his efficient ways. His two blocks were nice to have, but his 8 (!!!!!) turnovers keyed a trend for the team.

    Dwight Howard joined in the fun, racking up 6 turnovers himself. It was a small price to pay compared to his line, an astonishing 29 points on 13 shots to go with 15 rebounds. Howard's post  moves, while still far from refined, were good enough to punish Robin Lopez inside. He also completed a pair of magical lobs, an event of increasing regularity for Houston. As his familiarity with the team increases, Howard will only score more points off lobs and picks.

    The biggest surprise of the evening was the return of Patrick Beverley, a player scheduled to take another week to return from a torn rib muscle. Beverley's defense and hustle were sorely missed in Houston, and helped key a second unit that more than held its own. He chased down each of his 4 rebounds and had near misses on a few more. Aaron Brooks was more capable in a backup role than the preseason implied, but Beverley is on another level. His return will help Houston stick by their defensive guns for more that a quarter at a time.

    Speaking of defense, Ömer Aşık chipped in as well, had a solid evening on that end as well. His defense on LaMarcus Aldridge was impressive, though Aldridge's final line of 9-19 shooting was nothing to scoff at. The so-called Twin towers seem to be slowly figuring each other out, and are especially effective against teams with large, traditional power forwards. The Rockets defense put together a stretch of five and a half minutes to start the second half in which Portland failed to score at all. Not coincidentally, the move to a small ball signaled the return of Portland's Lillard-fueled offense.

    In the Omri Casspi watch, Omri came out and delivered another solid box score. In limited minutes he picked up 7 points on 4 shots, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. He's giving it his all, a quality Houston values and rewards with minutes. Casspi looks to continue getting game time, especially if he can continue to surpass Chandler Parsons on the box score (4-11 shooting, 9 pts, 6 rebounds, 2 steals), his future is bright.

    Jeremy Lin continues his streak of solid performances, notching 12 points on 8 shots and letting fly with lobs from time to time. His ability to score around the cup, especially of fast breaks, has become increasingly critical. His defense may not be in the same arena as Beverley's but he's more important from a pick and roll and scoring perspective. Lin has quietly had a solid season thus far, with the pressure having been lifter from his shoulders.

    With one exception, every game seems to be a half-step further in the path to midseason form for the Rockets. They aren't on the same level as the Clippers at this moment, but have a great amount of room to improve. If the Rockets can start defending the perimeter and holding onto the ball, there's no telling what they could do. But today, warts and all, the Rockets effortlessly built a double digit lead in the second half. Now they just have to learn how to get rid of the warts.

  • Red94 says 1 YEAR ago New post: Houston Rockets 116, Trail Blazers 98 - Shooting Pros