Houston Rockets @ Memphis Grizzlies 11/25/13

Injuries
Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol will be out indefinitely with a sprained MCL as the Rockets travel to Memphis.  This will provide more opportunity for the Rockets to get a win on the road against a probable playoff team from the West.  The Grizzlies will miss his defense, and his 16 points and 7 rebounds a game.  This will allow more space for the Rockets offense to take it to the hole and create opportunities for Howard in the post.

James Harden is day to day and is expected to miss his second game in a row with a sore left foot.  Supposedly this injury has been bothering Harden for weeks and he has already missed two games due to the injury.  His foot may be impacting Harden more than he has let on and many observers suspect this injury has been the cause of Harden’s slow start.  He’s sixth in the league in scoring, but hasn’t been the game changer that he was last year. The Rockets are 1 -1 with Harden on the bench this year.

Matchups
Can the Rockets guards play some defense against Memphis?  The Rockets are currently 29th in the league in points allowed per game. Mike Conley is going to be a handful for any one of the Rockets guards.  He can light it up and is shooting .516 on the season from the field. Brooks will see significant time if Harden doesn’t play and his defense will be critical.  If Brooks can light it up from behind the arc like the last game, you can expect to see his playing time increase.

Lin bounced back from his worst outing with a solid game against the Timberwolves with 19 points in 39 minutes.  He’s started six games this year, facilitates well,  and is often in at the end of games.  His chemistry with the starters is solid and he’ll need to have another good outing to beat Memphis on the road.

Terrence Jones is the man, can he keep it up?  He’s hitting threes, rebounding, dribbling, passing, blocking shots and working hard.  He’s got work to do on his defense (what Rocket doesn’t, except maybe Howard), but this guy is an amazing addition to the rotation.  Jones’ skill set and energy are what the Rockets have been looking for in their quest for a PF.  If he can maintain this pace and continue to grow, the sky is the limit.  It’ll be a big challenge in Memphis going up against Zach Randolph, who is a beast and is averaging 16.5 and 9.5 boards a game.

Issues
Fourth quarter letdowns have dominated the storylines this year, no lead is safe with the Rockets defense.  When they were up by 12 with about a minute and a half left in the game against the Wolves, it was hard to feel comfortable as they’ve given up so many double digit leads. Howard is talking about players needing to ask out if they need a blow, instead of waiting for McHale’s rotation.  The Grizzlies are only averaging 94 a game, so the pace should slow down from previous games.

Turnovers remain a factor for the Rockets, they give up a league worst 19.1 per game.  Harden is worst in the league at 4.3 a game, Lin is near the bottom at 3.2 and Howard is right behind at 3.1 per.  This is one of the main reasons so many games are staying close.

Asik looked good on Saturday and got in the rotation for 13 minutes and got 8 boards.  He was really good at fighting off Love and Pekovich for rebounds.  He looked more solid than Howard did in that regard.  His plus minus was a +8. Having his presence in the middle when Howard is out is a valuable asset.  It’s critical that he maintain his standing with McHale and provides solid defensive and rebounding presence when he gets minutes.

 

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Total comments: 60
  • datruth says 10 months ago

    McHale did a good job last night. I will him credit for this one.

  • rocketrick says 10 months ago

    Houston fighting for a bottom seed is not a joke. When I look at the west, San Antonio, LA Clippers, OKC, and Golden State are in the top 4. Dallas, Portland, Houston, Denver, Memphis, Minnesota and the Lakers are competing for the last 4 spots. Phoenix has an outside shot of getting into that mix. Portland and Denver are so tough at home that they will win enough games to get in. The Lakers are also tough at home and have already won 3 games they should've lost (against LAC, GS and Houston). They're getting better and can match up with anyone in the league with their depth. Dallas has been very impressive. Carlisle/Dirk teams execute better than anyone in the last 5 minutes of a game. If Houston remains average as they have been, they won't make it.


    Memphis has been playing pretty badly this entire season, in my opinion, even before Gasol went down with his injury. It looks like they really miss Coach Hollins.

    I don't see Memphis making the playoffs this season.

    Assuming no major season ending injuries to key players, I would expect that San Antonio, LA Clippers, OKC Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trailblazers and Houston Rockets will make the playoffs.

    Then several other teams will battle for the final 2 playoff slots in the West. Most likely between LA Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets.

    How many below .500 teams will make the East playoffs this season? That Conference is looking extremely weak this season after Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers. The Bulls will probably still be in the playoffs even after losing D Rose for the season.
  • rocketrick says 10 months ago

    Agreed on McHale. This was a great win for him. Congrats for leaving the bench in for the 4th.
    I must say, can we just ask Howard to stop using his post game all together unless he ends up with the ball with 7 or less seconds on the clock? It is painful to watch and, at least to the eye, looks very inefficient.
    Thank god for Asik. Hopefully we can all make peace and he can stay on. When Howard's head goes out the window he is our only saving grace.


    I was at the Rockets game Saturday nite vs. Minnesota and was fortunate enough to be sitting 6 rows behind the Rockets bench. There is no doubt in my mind that Asik and D12 have issues. For instance, after being substituted out of the game, D12 came to the bench in the second half and high fived all the bench players. D12 tried to high five Asik, Asik simply chose to ignore him. Then D12 sat next to Asik and tried starting a conversation, Asik chose to simply ignore him.
  • rocketrick says 10 months ago

    well well WELL what do you know, as soon as I start talking about McHale he stepped up for one. just like I bashed him before I will also give him credit when credit is due. excellentwin. for once we saw something wasn't working and changed it in a positive manner. chalk this one up in the coach category. after losing a lead like Memphis had a couple of times this year I guess we were due for one like that. it wasn't pretty, but satisfying never the less :)


    Actually Coach McHale has been tinkering with the lineup since even pre-season trying to find the right combinations. In my opinion, the Rockets will continue being a work in progress for some time to come.

    I just don't get why people have to bash McHale this early in the season. Maybe it's because Lin is getting off to such a great start so there is nothing left to complain about?
  • rm90025 says 10 months ago

    The 3rd quarter of the game was bigger than the 4th to me.Howard and Lin both played well to get the team back into the game and give them a sense that they could win it. In the 4th quarter, I think the Rockets really benefited from Memphis being unable to throw it into the ocean. Conley had a really bad shooting night. Asik played very well which was nice to see and without Marc Gasol on the floor, his game was better suited to allowing the other players to drive into the lane. Z-Bo was missing in action.

  • Richards says 10 months ago

    You got what you asked for, so live with it. :)

  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    I couldn't agree more about Howard holding the ball too long, everything he does needs to be within 2 seconds from the catch or kick it back out immediately and keep the ball movement going. When he's catching the ball he's always limiting his options anyway because he establishes his pivot foot on the catch meaning he can only turn one way, that's why he always turns and begins his move facing up rather than starting his move while his back is to the basket.

  • John P says 10 months ago

    Agreed on McHale. This was a great win for him. Congrats for leaving the bench in for the 4th.

    I must say, can we just ask Howard to stop using his post game all together unless he ends up with the ball with 7 or less seconds on the clock? It is painful to watch and, at least to the eye, looks very inefficient.

    Thank god for Asik. Hopefully we can all make peace and he can stay on. When Howard's head goes out the window he is our only saving grace.

  • Richards says 10 months ago

    Bizarre rotation but undoubtedly a good win

  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    Casspi has been a difference maker all season. I wouldn't mind seeing more of a time share between Jones and Casspi, especially when Jones isn't hitting his 3s and our guards are struggling to penetrate.

  • rockets best fan says 10 months ago

    well well WELL what do you know, as soon as I start talking about McHale he stepped up for one. just like I bashed him before I will also give him credit when credit is due. excellentwin. for once we saw something wasn't working and changed it in a positive manner. chalk this one up in the coach category. after losing a lead like Memphis had a couple of times this year I guess we were due for one like that. it wasn't pretty, but satisfying never the less :)

  • kevingan says 10 months ago

    Sure would be nice if this improbable team-effort win was another nail in the coffin of hero ball...imagine playing this cooperatively with a higher level of skill! That's what makes championship basketball. That familiar opinion is not going to stop the presses, but I repeat it because it's a concept that gets a lot of lip service, but is oh, so hard to stay loyal to.

    Stay loyal, Rockets!

  • feelingsupersonic says 10 months ago Associated Press:

    "We had a great game plan and we did it for three quarters," Grizzlies guard Tony Allen said. "They just turned into a whole different team once they set their starters down. Those guys penetrated the basketball, got into our soft spot. They made plays -- Casspi was a difference-maker."



    This tells me two things, first that if that was Memphis' great game plan they aren't getting out of the first round this year and secondly that the Rockets have some depth, potentially 3 lineups maybe 4 that they can morph into against quality Western Conference opponents. The coaching staff gets credit for this win for putting the right horses out there.
  • tombrokeoff says 10 months ago

    ugly but great W

  • Red94 says 10 months ago New post: Houston Rockets 93, Memphis Grizzlies 86: The bench mob shows up.
    By: Paul McGuire

    I’ll fully admit to not being impressed in the slightest by Saturday’s win against Minnesota.  The turnovers were numerous, the rebounding was poor, and the Rockets played an incredibly undisciplined and sloppy version of basketball which was only bailed out by Aaron Brooks bringing his NBA 2K self to life, and the Rockets shooting 55% from long range, something I doubt they will accomplish four more times this season.

    Tonight, we saw what happened when the ridiculously hot shooting collapses.

    That was what I typed out midway through the third quarter, because tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies from my perspective really had gotten that out of hand.  For the first two and a half quarters, the Rockets played sloppy, terrible basketball which struggled against Memphis’s vaunted defense.  But Houston began to turn things around offensively later in the third quarter, and then Kevin McHale sent out a Beverley-Garcia-Parsons-Casspi-Asik lineup.  That largely bench lineup trounced Memphis’s bench, finally regained the lead, and held on late in the game against Mike Conley and the Grizzlies starters to win the game and go up 10-5.

    • Some statistics which show the stark difference between the brilliant fourth quarter and the miserable earlier periods:  Houston made 2 3-pointers in the first three quarters.  They made 4 in the final period.  They had 3 turnovers in the fourth quarter, after 17 in the earlier three.  They had three assists in the first half.  They had nine in the second.  The Grizzlies had 11 offensive rebounds in the first half.  They had three in the second.  The numbers show the truth of the ugliness and weak cohesion of the first half, only for it to it be turned around by a bench mob that actually played defense, made shots, and was allowed to ride out the rest of the game by McHale.
    • I know I described the lineup that won the game as a “bench mob”, but it was largely Chandler Parsons, Omri Casspi, and Omer Asik who won the game out of those five (more on Asik below).  Francisco Garcia had a timely three pointer which tied the game at 75-75, but that was his only three pointer out of six attempts and he had two, possibly three, foolish fouls at the end of the game which resulted in trips to the free throw line for Conley.  Casspi and Parsons in the meantime had 9 points apiece in the final quarter, mostly off of fast break points as the Rockets at the end finally managed to turn the pace away from Grit n’ Grind and towards the normal dazzling Houston offense.  They also had some great double teams, a notable example when the two trapped Zach Randolph to throw an errant pass which Beverley nabbed and passed to Casspi for the finish.
    • Asik in particular was a massive difference in Houston’s effort later in the game, as he definitely outplayed Howard on the defensive end tonight.  Part of that is due to the fact that Asik is better than Howard at staying calm in the face of blown calls.  Howard had some problems early at the game with the referees, and received a technical foul for his complaints, something which he never seemed to quite get over for the rest of the game.  Asik in the meantime went to work.  In addition to performing well against Zach Randolph and the depleted Memphis big men, Asik grabbed 10 rebounds in 21 minutes and prevented the Grizzlies from dominating the boards like they did in the first half.
    • With Harden hopefully back for Wednesday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, it is pleasant to know that the Rockets have managed to win the past two games without him.  The game against Minnesota was from my perspective a fluke born out of hot shooting, but tonight’s game was a much better indication of the depth and potential that the Rockets can have with greater defensive rotations and discipline.  There is still a lot of work to do on the defensive end (there was one play in the second quarter where both Parsons and Terrence Jones abandoned Jon Leuer on the assumption that the other would cover Leuer, leaving him wide open for an easy jump shot), and needless to say, Harden will not exactly help with the defensive rotations.  But it is a start.
  • RudyT1995 says 10 months ago

    The ball movement was good in the 4th. Tighter defense helped us get in transition and get us some easy looks too.

  • Buckko says 10 months ago I told y'all we got this, stop being so negative.
  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    Our offense looks so much better without Dwight's sticky post ups, the ball needs to keep moving.

  • feelingsupersonic says 10 months ago

    Those bench guys really came through in the fourth. Asik, Casspi and Garcia really took it to the Grizzlies and I like how McHale managed the game at the end. Turnovers still remain a problem, this game could have been so much easier.

  • RudyT1995 says 10 months ago

    Asik was huge defensively in the 4th. Casspi and Parsons were great attacking the basket. That was a good win.

  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    Garcia made not 1, not 2, not 3, but FOUR dumb fouls in the 4th quarter which all resulted in free throws. To cap it off he tried to pick up a technical foul after being fouled out by mouthing off the the ref and giving him the death stare while refusing to get off the court, it's a freaking miracle the ref just didn't issue a tech. Wow, was Garcia TRYING to lose the game? Very uncharacteristic of him.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 10 months ago

    It's every game.

  • Chai says 10 months ago

    Maybe it's just this game or it's just me... but Bev cannot run a pick and roll at all...

  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    Did anyone see Parsons tell Jones not to shoot those open 3s? I don't like that..

  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    Harden is the epitome of Moreyball, it's hard to do it without him. We need to run more pick and roles for the sake of getting shooters open because the defense always collapses on the roll, and the shooters need to just let it fly catch and shoot no hesitation.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 10 months ago

    Lin has been getting hit more recently. I think we'll come out way more focused in the second half.

  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    Is there a sign on Lin's face that says "hit me"? Tony Allen is playing whack-a-mole with his face.

  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    Right now Memphis is doing a really good job of taking us out of our game, we only took 4 treys and we're not pushing the pace like we usually do.

  • feelingsupersonic says 10 months ago

    We're going to lose. I don't know why. We're going to underestimate them and come out flat.

    :(

    I think we will lose but maybe not for that reason since Harden is out. I think there could be a defensive collapse that lasts a full quarter or so especially if there are Rockets in foul trouble.
  • tombrokeoff says 10 months ago

    just 1 game but i hope we win because 10-5 looks a lot better than 9-6. i didnt think we'd beat minn w/o harden, and we looked pretty solid. hopefully the rox will surprise again tonight. just gotta know that every single one of them is gonna step up with gasol out.

  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    We're going to lose. I don't know why. We're going to underestimate them and come out flat.

    :(

    We usually do that after we've won a few games in a row and become complacent, I don't think we're there yet.

  • Rahat Huq says 10 months ago

    We're going to lose. I don't know why. We're going to underestimate them and come out flat.

    :(

  • DoubleClutchCityTwoston says 10 months ago

    this is likely gonna be a dogfight, much tougher game than most people seem to think, and possibly a playoff preview of 4-5 seeds. Shutting down Conley, as previously mentioned, is a must. Losing gasol is bigger for them than missing Harden will be for us

  • Buckko says 10 months ago P-Bev on Conley should do some damage.
  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    We just need to play the way we have been playing, although I wouldn't mind trying a little zone defense at some point just to throw them off rhythm.

  • thejohnnygold says 10 months ago

    I agree johnnygold, attack their frontline. I wonder if Jones could cover Koufos with Howard on Randolph and sag off him. I think I could live with giving them Koufos' post ups and outside shots from Randolph while making them run on offense.

    That's a fair point. I'm not very familiar with Koufos' offensive skills, but I'm guessing it doesn't go beyond dunks and maybe a baby hook shot or short jumper.

    As far as their guards go--I wouldn't underestimate Conley--he has come along ways since entering the league. Check out his shot chart. He's got a couple of weak areas on the floor---and hopefully we will corral him towards them--but he's killing it at the rim, in the paint, and from the left wing.

  • feelingsupersonic says 10 months ago I agree johnnygold, attack their frontline. I wonder if Jones could cover Koufos with Howard on Randolph and sag off him. I think I could live with giving them Koufos' post ups and outside shots from Randolph while making them run on deffense.
  • Chai says 10 months ago

    I would imagine Randolph doing much more damage against Jones than the opposite...

    If twin towers can work against Randolph/Gasol during the preseason, I'm hopeful that it can work against Randolph/Koufos now.

    Memphis just doesn't have the offensive fire power, especially without Gasol and Asik can practically render Randolph relatively ineffective.

    They'd have to rely on Conley/Bayless to carry the offense, where neither are the type that can create on the level of Harden or even JLin.

  • thejohnnygold says 10 months ago

    You're right, but imagine Koufos trying to pin down Dwight in the post while Jones has the ball against Randolph on the perimeter...no way Randolph can keep up with him on a drive. Somebody will be dunking that ball. Given their excellent perimeter D at the 1-3 positions I'd bet we attack a lot at the 4 & 5.

  • Chai says 10 months ago

    I wonder if Asik will see the floor more this game... With Memphis rolling out Koufos/Randolph front court... Asik/Dwight would be able to match up with them pretty well. Jones would only see the floor to match up with Ed Davis/Jon Leuer

  • Buckko says 10 months ago Really 9-5 won't make it stretch out season? That's just crazy, but you're entitled to your opinion.
  • rm90025 says 10 months ago

    Houston fighting for a bottom seed is not a joke. When I look at the west, San Antonio, LA Clippers, OKC, and Golden State are in the top 4. Dallas, Portland, Houston, Denver, Memphis, Minnesota and the Lakers are competing for the last 4 spots. Phoenix has an outside shot of getting into that mix. Portland and Denver are so tough at home that they will win enough games to get in. The Lakers are also tough at home and have already won 3 games they should've lost (against LAC, GS and Houston). They're getting better and can match up with anyone in the league with their depth. Dallas has been very impressive. Carlisle/Dirk teams execute better than anyone in the last 5 minutes of a game. If Houston remains average as they have been, they won't make it.

  • Richards says 10 months ago

    Chemistry among Rockets players are good and they will improve more. But trust? Will they trust each other enough?

    In recent interview, Howard rightly pointed out that players (I believe he meant starters) must ask for breather even if coach kept them in the game. Howard kept on saying that they must trust the next guy and believe that next guy will play hard and produce.

    I believe trust is the reason Rockets lose lead and lost in fourth quarter.

    They played very well in first three quarters and ball sticky in fourth, players stopped moving. Why? Didn't they trust each other enough? Do "they" think other isn't good enough to make a play and shoot? Are these players' fault? Or they were product of strict instruction from coaches to run a particular play and failed? Tough to speculate from outside. But one thing for sure, they must trust each other to win it all.

  • feelingsupersonic says 10 months ago I still consider Golden State better than the Blazers and they will have the better record by the end of the year in my opinion.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 10 months ago Idk about Portland. If they stay healthy they will remain up there. If they sustain any injuries they'll fall down. The Spurs will finish first. The Thunder second. It's down to the Rockets, the Trailblazers and Clips for third place.
  • feelingsupersonic says 10 months ago

    Right, hard time making the playoffs must be a joke. Seriously, both Portland and Dallas will end up behind the Rockets by the end of the season. Portland has not had that many quality wins, San Antonio had an off night if I remember correctly and most of their wins have been against teams in the lower third of the league.

  • Buckko says 10 months ago Have a hard time making the playoffs?! Either you had a bad typo or you're trolling. You make it sound like everyone else is much better than us.
  • rm90025 says 10 months ago

    The Rockets will have a hard time making the playoffs if their competitors stay healthy. However, a key injury to a player like Marc Gasol could give the Rockets the breathing room they need.The biggest strength of the Rockets' is their depth.

  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    I think we match up pretty well against Memphis. They're a half-court team and our defense is very good in the half-court, we might not be the best at rotating out to 3's but Memphis are last in the league in 3pt attempts. Plus, as underrated as Koufos is he's no Marc Gasol.

  • feelingsupersonic says 10 months ago

    I agree, but I still expect a win. we have more fire power than this team. them being at home may keep it close, but we are the better team

    I agree we have a much higher ceiling than Memphis but I still expect less consistency from this young Rockets team as opposed to this Grizzlies team at home this early in the season. By the end of the year we should be dominating them at their own game.

  • Juan Grande says 10 months ago

    I think Lin is going to go off on them and we win going away.

  • rockets best fan says 10 months ago

    Even with Gasol out I don't consider Memphis an easy out at home. The Rockets minus Harden isn't ideal so Menphis has to be looking at that as a positive.

    I agree, but I still expect a win. we have more fire power than this team. them being at home may keep it close, but we are the better team

  • timetodienow1234567 says 10 months ago

    I really want to see if Bev can play defense on Conley as well as Patty Mills did.

  • Buckko says 10 months ago Lacking harden doesn't hurt us near as much as losing Gasol hurts them. We have proven we can make up hardens offensive production but who's making up Gasols on both sides of the floor. Their whole offensive and defensive game plans revolve around or goes through him.
  • kidnextdoor says 10 months ago

    Would you start Asik if Mark Gasol was healthy for this game?

    I would, and here is why....

    1. Its a good match up, neither Randolph or Gasol can shoot the 3 so guarding them in the paint would be easier for Howard

  • feelingsupersonic says 10 months ago

    This should be a easier win. Gasol is the very center of Memphis defense and offense.


    Even with Gasol out I don't consider Memphis an easy out at home. The Rockets minus Harden isn't ideal so Menphis has to be looking at that as a positive.
  • Buckko says 10 months ago This should be a easier win. Gasol is the very center of Memphis defense and offense.
  • feelingsupersonic says 10 months ago I don't expect the 3's to be dropping at 55% so this will be a test about the defense. I think the defense will be hard pressed to stay effective for the full 48 and wouldn't be surprised to see them lose this one by two or three possessions. I would like to see progress in the turnover department whatever the outcome is.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 10 months ago

    Top matchups to watch:

    1) Beverley vs. Conley

    2) Lin vs. Allen

    3) ZBo vs Howard (I don't think we'd allow Jones to guard ZBo, since he'd be eaten alive. I think we'll move Howard to him).

    This game might be the most interesting so far.

  • RollingWave says 10 months ago

    well the good news is that the Rockets can just put both guard on Conley and ignore Tony Allen ;)