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Houston Rockets 96, Detroit Pistons 82

Tonight was an evening of good news and bad news. The good news was that the Rockets got me a great birthday present: their first blowout of the season. The bad news was that Coach McHale has taken an indefinite leave of absence due to the illness of his daughter. His departure will not only leave a hole at the top of the Rockets’ leadership, but more importantly is a trying and difficult time for him, his daughter and their family. There’s no doubt that the entire Rockets team, fanbase and community wishes her a swift return to health.

At least one piece of stress was lifted from McHale’s plate tonight: the Rockets won fairly convincingly tonight, for the first time in this season. The dark cloud at the edge of this sunrise is that the Pistons are proving to be among the worst teams this season in every metric. At this point, anything less than a blowout team would have been a bit of a black eye for the Rockets. The overarching narrative of youth mistakes tapered slightly, but was still present. The Rockets looked like a .500 team, and the Pistons looked like a 15th seed team. For once, this season, things made sense.

The Rockets starters looked a bit more together than they have in a while, despite a still unacceptable 15 turnovers on the night. The surprise, however, was that Lin had exactly zero of those turnovers. The defense wasn’t exactly focused on him, and the Pistons seemed to be leaning more on the Rockets’ interior players and, of course, Harden.

Asik had an uncharacteristically high 4 turnovers. This was in large part due to the fact that the Rockets actually passed the ball inside to Asik a few times. While 5-12 shooting isn’t good for a man who plays exclusively at the rim, it was a far sight better than his previous evenings. His play inside is bizarre and ungainly, but did manage to work a few times. If he can get up to an average inside offense for putbacks and interior passing, he’ll be able to take a lot of the pressure off the backcourt.

Harden, the main focal point of every offense from now until Durant suits up in red and yellow, had another inefficient game. He was able to get to the line a few times and hit 6 of his 7 attempts, but that was the most effective single element of his game. A line of 6-14 shooting (with 2-6 from three), 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 5 (!!) turnovers isn’t really good enough. It’s possible that the offense suffered without McHale to run the show, as interim head coach Kelvin Samson is the team’s defensive coordinator. (I’m not convinced of that, but that’s for another story.)

Lin took care of the ball well, but also failed to shoot with any quality. As previously noted, he’s going to need to do better than 2-7 to stretch the floor out for his teammates. I think everyone will be happy with his 8 assists, however.

Parsons and Patterson both faded into the periphery for the most part, which isn’t surprising given the extended bench minutes that come with a blowout. Patterson shot an invisible 1-5 from the field and picked up only two rebounds in 16 minutes. Parsons managed an even 30% shooting with 8 points and 5 rebounds. More surprising was that he played 33 minutes.

The bench was the real story, as they got a season-high amount of burn due to the score margin. Neither team could hit anything: Rockets and Pistons both went 40% from the field, no doubt due in large part to both being on the second night of a back-to-back. Garbage time minutes let the Pistons lift their numbers substantially, and turned a nearly 30 point rout into a more tame-looking 14-point affair. With that cushion through much of the game, bench players came and went, some looking better than others.

Marcus Morris took over the bench tonight, hitting 6-7 shots, grabbing 8 rebounds, a pair of steals, and generally looking like a real NBA player. Even when he messes up a play, he looks like a high energy, high effort player. Tonight, his game-high +/- of 21 told the story.

Delfino looked tired (2-7 shooting) and Douglas looked… Douglas. 11 points is alright, but 4 turnovers in 20 minutes isn’t. He still plays decent, hustle defense and bad, hustle offense. The big surprise of the night was that some rookies actually saw the floor. Samson emptied the bench in the 4th, after the game was sealed. Motiejunas and Jones looked like good rookies. They were unrefined, but seemed happy to play within their respective skill sets. Daequan Cook and Cole Aldrich were in attendance.

In fact, it’s impossible to bring up Aldrich without mentioning the theme of the night. This was a game fraught with boners. Both tired teams seemed to be in a competition to see who could fail hilariously more times. Aldrich gets the gold medal for his inexplicably biffed fast break, in which a half-court lob hit him underneath the opposing basket, only to see him dazedly let the defenders close on him and strip him of the ball unceremoniously.

Silver medal goes to Tayshaun Prince for the boner premier of the evening. After recovering the ball on the defense, he fell to his stomach and literally watched the ball slowly roll out of bounds. There’s a reason the Pistons are 0-7 on the season. The blown layups and unforced turnovers between both teams were nearly innumerable, but at least kept the game… entertaining.

If it’s possible to have an ugly blowout, the Rockets had it. Being tired is a good excuse for an ugly game. The defense, while still shaky at the three point line, managed to hold the Pistons to a paltry 82 points. Now that they’ve blown out a bad team, they have some cred. That’s important. Now they just have to learn from the successes tonight and leave behind the bumbles.

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Total comments: 8
  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago Loved Greg Smith's hustle, especially that ball he kicked from the floor to prevent an easy basket :D
    Asik perfect from the line! (even just shooting 4 times, perfect percentage for him is great).
    Lin with zero turnovers, another notable stat.
    Also glad to see D-Mo and T-Jones get some playing time, to get that debut thing off their backs, from now on, they should cool a bit.

    I know Detroit is the must beat team at this moment, but we need to get those kind of numbers in this type of games if we hope to get anywhere.
  • inpropagation says 1 YEAR ago Glad they're back to .500 but they might as well be 3-4 already... it's Miami what'reyagonnado..
  • Jeby says 1 YEAR ago I used to hate Marcus Morris because I thought he just another tweener whose game was made for college and not for the pros.
    Now I just hate him for making me feel dumb about hating him.
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago nothing like looking up and seeing detroit on the schedule when you really need a win :rolleyes: glad to see the rooks get some minutes. (IMO) patterson is a good backup PF, not a starter. our starter will come from the rooks. we need to start giving them minutes nightly and get busy finding out who they are.
  • bob schmidt says 1 YEAR ago Several good things from this game:

    Greg Smith had another good appearance, 4 assists (second to Lin) in limited minutes. He is a great opportunist when on the court...

    Terrence Jones is definitely a shot blocker, and one of his blocks led to a fast break dunk at the other end. We look so much more imposing with him at the PF than with 2Pat... He has earned some rotation time in my mind.

    Getting everyone into the game that was game-active was important to team morale. Even the starters like to see the weakest players get a chance to play a bit. That is valuable fun-time for the team when the reserves can come in to finish up a game... Fun is important to a team.

    And, yes, it was nice to see Asik take his time on his free throws... He will surprise everyone before this season is over because he seems open to good coaching. This win over the Pistons was a good win for us, for a lot of reasons...
  • Bigtkirk says 1 YEAR ago Most important stat of the night -- Asik 4-4 on FT's!
  • Stephen says 1 YEAR ago Couple of quibbles.

    Harden had 20 points on 14 shots-that used to be considered efficient.
    However,your larger point that the Rockets aren't paying him max money to be Kevin Martin 2.0 is valid.

    Replay showed Prince tripped over Lin's feet. Hard to call that a premier boner.(And I'm old enough that I think a boner is something different :) .)

    Parsons stats might not have been too impressive,but he set up numerous open looks for his teammates.
    And I was really encouraged that he finally took it strong o the rim instead of throwing up that weak s*** he's been doing so far. He's getting past his man and close to basket...cue up Bill Walton,"Throw it down!"...instead of those off-hand flips he's been throwing up.
    Course,like the season so far,after a strong drive he tried too hard to dunk it and had it bounce back...sigh,baby steps.

    Fitting that after the past few years we finally have decent Center depth-remember all the spilled electrons over the back-up C? Both Smith and Aldrich look like real NBA back-up Cs,and I wouldn't be shocked to see them alternate the rest of the yr,depending on who's playing well-or who's playing poorly.
    Meanwhile we've gone from having two quality PGs the past few seasons to barely having one.

    Biggest disappointment to me so far has been the lack of off-ball movement in the offense. All too often Parsons,Delfino have sat in the corner while bigs set high screens for Harden/Lin. Can't remember the last time a wing w/out the ball ran off a screen set by a big.

    In the "Other than that,how was the play Mrs Lincoln" department,Sampson praised Douglass for bringing up the ball faster than Lin. That's great,but what did he do once he got it into the frontcourt? Very little that was good.
    Never confuse activity for accomplishment.

    Looks like the mantra for Rocket bigs is Rebound,Rebound,Rebound. If you don't you're going to sit. Esp w/the Defensive Coach now doling out minutes.

    Also agree that Morris is really settling into his role. Esp like his aggressiveness w/the ball. Interesting to see if that can translate when he goes back to the SF. If it does,the Rockets are a back-up PG away from having a dangerous second unit.

    Jones still has raw rookie written all over him,but he hustles and he offers something none of the other PFs do-help shot-blocking. And that is how he's going to force his way into the rotation.
  • blakecouey says 1 YEAR ago Good game with some sloppy play by both teams for sure. Loved seeing the rookies get some time. Was impressed with Jones' blocks, although his shooting was less than adequate. Not enough for Motie(5mins), but it's better than riding the pine.

    Very happy with Marcus Morris tonight, /- 21 is huge.

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