Huq’s Pen: On Beverley, Howard, Harden, and last week

  • My sincerest apologies again for my most recent disappearance, especially during such exciting times.  I’ve been transitioning with a move which has taken up the majority of my time.  But, for now, I’m here.  And I’ve been watching.  To begin, I’d like to touch on the topic most fresh in my mind and that is one Patrick Beverley.  I don’t think I am alone in saying that there are often certain images ingrained in the minds of a fan when recalling certain of their favorite teams.  Obviously, for the ’95 title-winning Rockets, Mario Elie’s “kiss of death” is up there.  For the McGrady-led “win streak” team, for me, it would have to be the image of Rafer Alston and Rajon Rondo needing to be separated just seconds after the tip of the streak-stopping loss to Boston…in concert with Jeff Van Gundy’s remark on the broadcast that the Rockets were on such an emotional high, that anything could cause a boiling point.  For this season’s Rockets, my most memorable images involve Patrick Beverley, most particularly of the 6’3 point guard leaning on Lebron James and forcing him into an errant jumpshot.  Beverley, in his short time here, has completely altered the ethos of a Rockets team/franchise which once saw one of its players (Luis Scola) have his face stepped on by another person with no retaliation.
  • Last night made me realize Beverley just does not give a f***.  I, like the rest of the world, was curious to see how last night would play out and for some reason thought it would be Westbrook bringing the aggression to Beverley.  Imagine my disbelief upon seeing the complete opposite occur.  Now, the Rockets lost, and Westbrook got his, and some would say Beverley’s aggression was misplaced.  I would disagree.  The Rockets have other problems and there were other reasons for last night’s loss.  But I’ve long been a firm believer that that kind of tone-setting and emotion is an essential element to high-level sports success.  For all of Michael Jordan’s greatness, the Bulls don’t get past Utah or Orlando so easily without Dennis Rodman’s mind games.

  • It’s unfortunate that I’m writing this after last night’s loss because the mood from last week has obviously been dampened and I had not yet gotten a chance to share my thoughts.  As I tweeted after the Portland win, the Rockets last week, for the first time all year, for the first time since ’05, had the look of a true contender, with Harden playing at an MVP level.  But understandably, a lot of the wind came out from under my sails after last night.  Some of you responded to me on Twitter that it was just one game and didn’t detract from what had been accomplished the week before.  I heartily disagree.  Last night’s loss takes away from the past week because, for all of the marvelous success, that game was a painful reminder of just how far this team has to go to catch the team it is chasing.  The game seemed much less closer than the final score indicated.  Some of you tried to put a positive spin on things saying “Dwight had a bad game and we were still in it,” but this is an erroneous line of reasoning because Dwight’s poor play was not a fluke occurrence.  There are certain matchups where Howard simply does not have it.  Watching that reality is chilling.  In theory, Dwight should be able to dominate the likes of Steven Adams or DeAndre Jordan, but he hasn’t.  Without said dominance, Houston in its current construct just simply does not have a chance.  What’s the solution?  There aren’t really any other internal avenues from which the team can garner the production it will need.  Will the natural growth process be enough?  Sadly, after watching this team face the Clippers and Thunder this season, I am of the thinking that it cannot win the West as currently constructed (ie: without the acquisition of another third star “major piece.”)

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Total comments: 10
  • marvelman821 says 5 months ago

    the clips and thunder are big in size on the frontcourt. when they both set their defense in the halfcourt the rockets have trouble getting penetration for layups. plus the thunder are quick to defend the 3 as well. i would like to see the rockets set more plays such as double picksin order to getparsons or harden open for 3s. also the rockets need to establish a mid-range game in my opinion where they can seta quick and do a stop and pop shot.teams know the rockets shoot the 3sor try to get layups in the paint so they should try switching it up.

    as far as defense i would like to see perhaps a zone. when guards like westbrook are able to use their speed to get into the paint quickly i notice the rockets tend to collapse toward the guy then westbrook kicks out quickly. the problem is the rockets aren't as quick on defense so perhaps a zone might work only in situationslike the thunder game. plus they all gotta pressure durant and westbrook earlier in the halfcourt and not let them set up since they're suck great shooters. double team earlier as well on durant and westbrook. make ibaka, adams, fisher, or someone else beat you. can't let the team's stars get in a rhythm.

    just my opinion. what do you guys think?

  • CT for Three says 5 months ago

    I agree with you, Rahat, on one point; that is, Beverley's aggressiveness was and is necessary to play a guy like Westbrook, and the reason why westbrook went off later in the game was because the Rockets did not defend the pick and roll very well. For the first quarter and a half, Beverley played with reckless abandon against Westbrook, with mild success. Forced him into a few turnovers, and a few bad shots. Westbrook is one of the more physical point guards in the Association. You have to get into his chest, so to speak, to defend him properly. Otherwise he will just run over you like a speed bump, as he does to so many other defenders. Because Bev wasn't having that on Tuesday, OKC began throwing picks at him like they were beads at Mardi Gras. Usually, with Adams or Ibaka. I know this is fundamental basketball, but I took it as an acknowledgement by OKC that Westbrook (and maybe Coach Brooks) did not want any part of "Bev Defense." Westbrook can beat most big men off the dribble and to the basket, and that's why I agree with the consensus that we need to play with 4 shooters and 1 big against OKC. We need a Swiss Army knife guy in there who can guard Ibaka a little, but more importantly, can defend that Westbrook PnR better. When Westbrook gets a pick, he's not going to pass it to the roller (unless said roller is Durant). He's going to the rim. If we can defend that better, then I think the outcomes of future games with OKC will be different. Of course, Durant could be watching us all right now like a cartoon villain, plotting his next 50 point game on us, so...maybe not

  • Alituro says 5 months ago

    Beverley is put out there to create chaos, by no means should we wish him to hold back. In the last game it is possible his personal aspirations of getting into someone's head trumped playing the actual game. So be it, he made a statement: " I don't give a f***, and I'm going to play my game the way I play it no matter what is said about me, and no matter who has a problem with it".. The Rodman analogy is a good one.

    Since the OKC game was the first time we played them, fully healthy, with the playoff atmosphere, on their court, and we were in it up until the closing couple minutes, I don't think it's anything to be concerned about or anything that indicates we have more work to do on our roster. If it was a blow-out, then maybe. If it was on our court, then maybe. If the next meeting here in Houston has similar results, then definitely. Jury is still out on us, IMO. We've sported the best record in the league in 2014, completely dismantled the reigning champs and their possible successors in the east, recently, along with escaping an obvious trap game and rallying from behind to beat on their own court a team, that if Rahat's assessment is right, we are only on par with. Then I don't see how loosing a close one to an established WC power, on their court, could possibly indicate much of anything. It was a loss, it happens to the best of them.

  • dbd says 5 months ago

    I am all for aggressive plays but player should learn aggressive vs recklessness. Bev went a bit too far in OKC games. Unfortunately Westbrook rolled him over and we got distracted by their "rivalry".

  • miketheodio says 5 months ago

    i think instead of post ups first, get dwight going with PnR first. try post ups when he gets a bit of rhythm.

    i like beverley but he goes out of control sometimes. when he's on the floor, it gets a little too erratic. if you are trying to play at a certain tempo/rhythm, then the chaotic moments can be a detriment.

  • rockets best fan says 5 months ago

    @Rahat

    totally disagree. while you were discouraged from last night I was not. I was disappointed, but the team showed me something it hadn't before. it show the will to fight back. in previous meeting with OKC you could have expected a blowout in this game, especially in a playoff atmosphere like last night. however they didn't just wilt away after that terrible 2nd quarter. they pulled up their boot straps and jumped back into the fight. OKC (Durrant) had to still scrap to put us away after us closing to 5 in the fourth quarter 2 different times. remember we were down by 18 at one point in this game. I think we need to look at how OKC is defending Howard and make an adjustment there. reminds me of how Seattle use to swarm Dream when we played them(back in the day). maybe the answer is to run more PnR, but in my mind that's the adjustment that can change the outcome. OKC is using a swarm tactic on D-12 in the post and keeping Durrant on Harden. we need a third player to score and rebalance the floor. when Garcia entered the game last night Houston begin to surge because he provided that element. we don't need a third star, we need a third scorer. somebody who will score if left alone. I don't know if that player is on this team at this point. I think Parsons or Jones have a chance to become this needed element. each has done it on occasion this season with Parson providing that extra punch more often than Jones, however both have had disappearing acts. this is where growth can still push us, but hasn't yet. we will continue to get better as the season progresses down the stretch. Yes OKC and the Clippers are ahead of us in the curve, however we have the most room and potential to grow as we chase them down the back stretch of the season. 18 games to go..............we have been in a playoff atmosphere in quite a few games lately. we're learning. a lot will depend on playoff seeding. I like our chances as long as we don't need to face both LA and OKC. hopefully they end up playing each other in the second round. I think we are capable of reasonably handling any other team in the conference. hopefully we learn enough by the time we need to face LA or OKC to swing the balance

  • Jatman20 says 5 months ago Pressure on Westbrook often has him force bad shots......this game Westbrook got his; next game may be different. TJ needs to show up. He played well vs our last Portland game; but needs to show up vs the Thunder and Clippers. D12-10 Rebs/ TJ-3 Rebs.......Adams-8 Rebs/ Ibaka 16 Rebs. Ibaka is leaving his man to supply help defense on Adams man (D12).
  • SDrake says 5 months ago

    I'm concerned that Beverley is going to get himself "hurt" with that over-aggressive play against Westbrook. It's only a matter of time that a bigger player gives him a hard foul to send him a message. There's a time and a place to be overly aggressive. There's smart agressiveness and dumb aggressiveness. I'm concerned that Beverley is just going to create enemies on the other teams.

    With last night's over-the-top agressive play against Westbrook, I wonder whether he was told to do that to try to get Westbrook frustrated and off his game or whether he was just fired up himself. Unfortunately, it appears it just got Westbrook fired up and he had a great game.

  • Losthief says 5 months ago

    i'd disagree on one point, when mchale went small (a la last year's playoff wins) with howard and 3 wings and point, we played even to slightly better than the thunder. When we tried to play big against the thunder our weakness with the four showed.

    For the Thunder I think we need to focus on playing 4 out 1 in basketball completely, to the point of ignoring having a traditional 4 play, and we can get away with it cause serge isn't a back to the basket scorer/threat.

    On the other hand...the clippers i don't see such an easy answer to, especially if jj reddick comes back to torment harden.

  • inpropagation says 5 months ago

    Yeah - basically any team that matches up with us that is better at the 4 and 1 than we are... Serge Ibaka's doubling on Dwight needs to be handled better, I thought he was too selfish and not passing it out quicker or at all.

    Having that said we definitely have a better chance at the Clips than OKC