What’s the best way to get back on track after a tough loss to the Clippers and a long five game road trip? Play etroit at home. As the Rockets announcers noted, there isn’t much D in Detroit. The Pistons were a step slower than the Rockets and Houston made them pay, in the first half. At the end of the first half Harden saved the ball from going out of bounds to Howard at the top of the key and he gave an amazing alley oop to Jones for the slam. The Rockets are up off the bench and the half finally ends with Howard trying a 3 from the corner. It’s all smiles into the locker room, as the Rockets took a 69 to 46 halftime lead.
The second half was another story. The Pistons took it to the Rockets 64 to 49 in the second. It could have been another Tale of Two Halves loss. The Rockets transition defense totally fell apart in the 4th quarter. At one point in the 4th quarter Detroit had outscored Houston in the paint 24 to 2. The Pistons got fast easy points in transition time after time. It was ugly! At a time when the Rockets needed to run some time, Detroit came down and scored layup after layup with hardly any time coming off the clock. The coasting Rockets made it a game at the end, thankfully Beverley saved the day.
Beverley tied a career high with 5 from behind the line, and 3 of them were daggers in the final quarter when the Rockets offense bogged down like days of old. No one was moving, the ball wasn’t moving and everyone was cold. Thank goodness Beverley got hot. He took 9 from behind the arc and finished with 19 points.
Casspi looked good in his first action in a few games. With Hamilton jumping over him in the depth chart, Omri has something to prove. He came out hot tonight and got 11 points in his first 8 minute stretch on the floor. He ended with 16 points in only 15 minutes. His scoring helped drive the big first half run, though he did end up with a 0 +/-.
Terrence Jones had a bounce back game as he’s been a little quiet lately. His rebounding looked strong in the middle and he ended up with a double double of 22 and 10. He shot 10 of 15 and played 32 minutes to D Mo’s 16 tonight. His solid play is critical and when he’s exceptional, like tonight, the Rockets are tough to beat.
Hamilton ended up 6 of 12 from the field but struggled from behind the arc, shooting only 1 of 6. It’s amazing how he has stepped into the rotation and fit right into the flow for the Rockets. With Parsons out ill tonight, Hamilton slid right into the starting lineup and held court. He can get to the basket well and his athleticism fits right into the T Jones and Chandler Parsons mold. He runs the court, finishes, stretches out on defense and is not shy shooting the 3 ball.
Harden had a quiet game of sorts. It seemed like he was into passing tonight in a way that Kobe used to do lots of nights. He had 12 assists and was really getting into his role as facilitator. He made some sweet passes to Howard and Jones for big dunks. He was also the one finding Beverley in the 4th quarter. It was smart playmaking by Harden, as he was 1 of 6 from behind the line. In the last quarter he was either dishing off or taking it to the hole to be fouled, instead of launching it when he wasn’t feeling it.
Lin continues to struggle. He shot only 1 of 6 and managed only 17 minutes tonight. He and Harden both had 4 turnovers. This would have been a good game to get going with the first half so wide open for the Rockets, but his shot just hasn’t been going in as of late. His scoring average is going down and his confidence is as well. It will be critical, come playoff time, for him to climb out of his slump and get it going again.
As amazing as the first half was for the Rockets they still continue to struggle putting 4 quarters together. They’ll have to tighten down the hatches in this upcoming stretch of games. With some monster games on the schedule coming up (Miami twice, OKC and Indiana, all in the next 7 games), it would have been nice to increase the lead in the third quarter and rest the starters in the 4th quarter. But Rocket fans know that when Houston has a big lead, the ride is just starting.