Tonight, in many ways, was a game devoted to setting records. The Rockets offense scored 77 points in the first half, their most points in a half for the season, tied the all-time NBA record of 23 3-pointers in a game, and finished with by far their most points of the season with 140. Yet at the very end, the Rockets set a less quantifiable record through the fact that I have never seen such a testy 30-point blowout at the very, very end of the game.With the injury of Mr. Delfino for the next few games at minimum (more on that below), one could not help but wonder from where Houston would find reliable 3 point shooting. The answer, for tonight, turned out to be “everyone.” In addition to tying the NBA record for most 3’s in a game, the Rockets also tied in the half with an utterly insane 14 out of 18 3 pointers in the first half. No Rocket shot below 50% from the 3 pointer, and even Lin, a sub 30% 3 pointer shooter for the season, had an excellent 5-8 game from behind the line in what was easily his most brilliant performance since his 38 points against San Antonio back in early December. While most of those shots were good shots, tonight was a night where everything went right for the Rockets from long-rangeThe statistic of Houston’s ability to shoot the 3 tonight, combined with the fact that they also finished with 35 assists to 8 turnovers, serves to sum up the game at a glance. This was by far Houston’s strongest offensive performance of the season as they hit shot after shot after from the very beginning of the game. Golden State hung around enough to worry the Rockets throughout the game and made runs to close the gap late in the 1st and 3rd quarter thanks to a bench which utterly outclassed Houston’s. Yet in a game which turned into an offensive shootout, Golden States simply could not keep with a Rockets team which could not miss from deep, and the benches were cleared with 5 minutes to go. With 3 minutes to go, Donatas Motiejunas hit Houston’s 23rd 3 pointer of the game and tied the NBA record.From there, things got extremely tense between the two teams. As the outcome had been decided, the Rockets began playing less to win and more on making that last 3 pointer to set the record, and the Warriors countered by focusing completely on the 3 point line at the total disregard of the paint. Patrick Beverley received a technical for taunting after he grabbed a wide-open dunk, and Draymond Green responded by all but tackling Beverley rather than give him a 3 point shot. Tempers flared, Green and Marcus Morris were ejected from the game, and Coach Marc Jackson ordered his team to intentionally foul on the last two possessions. Despite the win, the Rockets crowd which had been chanting “One more three” for the past three minutes relentlessly booed the Warriors as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
- On the one-year anniversary of Linsanity, Jeremy Lin put up a basically perfect game. He made his jumpers, he held Curry to 7 points on 12 shots, he drove to the basket using both his right and left hands against one of the better defensive big men in the league in Bogut, and he also helped to stabilize the Rockets when it appeared that Golden State might make a last ditch run early in the 4th quarter. I know that I have been fairly tough on Lin in earlier articles, but there was nothing to criticize him for in a big game like this. On a night when almost everyone performed well, for once Lin and not The Bearded One was the player of the game.
- It appears that Carlos Delfino will be out at least a few games thanks to “loose cartilage” in his right elbow which has bothered him for a while. The loss of a player like Delfino will no doubt be missed in the future, but tonight James Anderson did an admirable job of filling in for him. Anderson came in late in the first quarter, and while his initial possession was a rather embarrassing double-dribble, he finished with 8 points and 8 rebounds in a very respectable game. Anderson has had a rough career so far – many touted him to be another of San Antonio’s superb picks when he was first drafted, but a lack of playing time and a devastating knee injury caused him to not even make it to the end of his rookie contract. Hopefully he can stabilize with the Rockets.
- While it was mentioned above, the generally poor play of the Houston bench cannot be overlooked even during this overwhelming victory. Old fan favorite Carl Landry led the charge to shorten the gap in the first half as he constantly baffled Marcus Morris and Greg Smith on the defensive end. Smith in particular played extremely poorly as he continued his fouling problems and simply lacked the ability to stop any of Golden State’s capable bigs from scoring or rebounding as they pleased. Smith has definitely struggled as teams have adjusted to him, which is probably why McHale has recently experimented with Cole Aldrich. Aldrich may not have seen any minutes tonight, but it says something about how badly Smith played that I’m not sure the Rockets would have been that much worse off playing Aldrich.
- Patrick Patterson had 10 rebounds, 5 in the first quarter, and played superb defense on David Lee. That, in and of itself, should be cause for celebration tonight.