Huq’s Pen: On Hero-ball, Jeremy Lin, and Chris Paul

via CSN:

“We drew stuff up to get movement and motion, a double screen… Stuff that’s worked for us the entire series,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “We just held the ball. We’ve got to attack. We hold it too much at the end of the game. We’ve got to attack with enough time that we let our offense do what it has to do which is pass and move. Believe me, we discussed that a lot.”

Harden, on the matter:

“They were good shots. I stepped back, created space. I was just cold, not having rhythm,” Harden said. “I sat out the entire fourth quarter so if have those opportunities again, same play.”

Harden, on whether he’d do it again:

“For sure, do the same thing,” Harden said. “Do the same thing.”

That’s the latest on the dilemma which has plagued the Rockets’ season all year long.  Yesterday, on the basis of McHale’s Monday comments, I had surmised that the call for ISO was coming from McHale.  These comments appear definitive.  There is a clear rift between player and coach regarding strategy.

  • The situation won’t be resolved, if at all, until the offseason.  That’s fine, but it’s just unfortunate knowing that if there’s a close game tonight, we likely won’t win.  Houston’s only chance is to have enough of a cushion (like on Monday) to where they can absorb the inevitable meltdown.
  • I don’t think this is necessarily some fatal flaw of Harden’s.  It’s frustrating, yes, but I think it would be far more worrisome if he were afraid to accept accountability and shied away from the last shots.  This is a 23-year-old guy playing as the first option for the first time in his career – the Hero-ball was predictable.  The question becomes, however, how the team will rectify the problem in the future.  Do they hope he’ll just naturally mature and buy into the system?  Will it take a different coach to get him to buy in?  Or maybe Hero-ball is just an unavoidable consequence of today’s star-centric league?  The Geeks can point at the numbers all they want, but teams have been doing this since the dawn of time.  As Daryl Morey once said, “great teams avoid close games.”  Maybe that’s just what will have to happen?
  • My heart wants to think the Rockets will win, but my head tells me tonight’s game will be a Thunder blowout.  That team is going to come out amped in ways unimaginable in hopes of putting Houston away.  But if the Rockets can somehow pull it off and force a Game 6…the roof of Toyota Center will come off on Friday.
  • If Jeremy Lin is experiencing pain, he just simply shouldn’t play.  In his current state, he’s a detriment to the team, especially when there are very capable alternatives such as Garcia.  In fact, Garcia needs to be in there on Durant from the opening tip.
  • Those of you who have been following me for the past four years know I seldom mention officiating.  But that game on Monday night was one of the worst officiated games I can remember seeing in a long time.  Just pitiful.  If you are seriously telling me that James Harden sauntering at 1/4 speed and running into Derek Fisher is enough force to send the latter flying to the ground….then I don’t know what to say.  The league has a serious, serious problem and I don’t know how it will ever be addressed.  But some of those calls were simply pathetic.
  • Finally, while things may have not worked out on the court as the Rockets would have liked, other developments elsewhere have gone very favorably for Daryl Morey with the Lakers being swept in humiliating fashion and the Clippers on the verge of blowing a 2-0 series lead and also being eliminated.  Had you asked me a month ago if either Chris Paul or Dwight Howard would leave their respective teams, I would have said “no chance.”  But now?  I don’t know which of the two is a greater flight risk.  The topic of Howard has been beaten to death, but Paul is a man whose clear motivation is winning.  One wonders if he feels Blake Griffin can ever help him win a title.  If the pair of superstars are willing to make some small sacrifices, they can create a trio that would rival Miami’s by joining James Harden in Houston.  But how much does money really matter over winning?

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About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of

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The Rockets Daily – May 1, 2013