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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