And so we live to see another day

  • It’s extremely difficult to not get greedy and push from one’s mind the thought that the Rockets could, nay, should, be up 3-1 right now.  On the flip side, given their late-game execution, they are extremely lucky to have not gotten swept.  They shouldn’t have won last night.  Running three consecutive ISOs to close the game, they escaped by the skin of their teeth last night with a victory.  What scares me is that I don’t think they, or their coach, realize how lucky they got.  As I explained last night, initially after the debacle against the Lakers, I had blamed McHale for this complete breakdown in late game situations, thinking he was calling for the ISOs.  Then, after Games 2 and 3, after hearing his comments about needing to move the ball, I speculated that the blame should probably be cast upon Harden and that he was ignoring his coach.  But McHale’s postgame comments last night seemed to confirm my initial fears.  When asked about the possessions, he expressed dismay that Harden didn’t drive the ball and get into the paint.  He didn’t express dismay over the lack of a pick or the lack of any semblance of a play – he expressed dismay over the result of the ISO.  This revelation is so, so disturbing that it almost takes away from the enjoyment and relief of winning simply because it’s an explication of the inevitable.  Sure, the Rockets will probably get this fixed out in the offseason once Morey gets involved.  But for now, you see the writing on the wall: they escaped alive, but this is how it will end; at some point, unless they’re blown out, the Rockets’ season will be over because they’ll revert to Hero-ball at the end of the game.  They won’t fix it because it’s by design.
  • It just completely defies all logic.  Your offense is rolling, destroying one of the top ranked defenses in the league.  The ball is hopping, Garcia and Delfino are en fuego, pun intended, Asik is cleaning the glass and Parsons is driving at will.  So what do you do once the clock hits inside two minutes?  Naturally, the complete opposite.  It just makes zero sense by any sense of rationale.  In what world is a contested stepback jumper, even from your best player, a higher percentage option than a repetition of what you had been doing to build a lead?
  • I almost think they do it because they expect it.  They think that that’s just what’s supposed to happen at the end of the game.  You know how there are always certain things in sports which defy logic but are done because they are so engrained into the collective conscience?  Like sliding to first-base when it doesn’t get you there any faster than running.  I think this is an example of that.  But what’s troubling is the coach’s endorsement of it.
  • I’m getting depressed thinking that we may soon be seeing the last games of Carlos Delfino and Francisco Garcia in Rockets uniforms.  Garcia, for sure, unless he takes a significant pay-cut, will be headed elsewhere, while the odds on Delfino returning too are not so great if the team hopes to make a big acquisition.  They’ve been fun and it’s funny because this happens almost every season.  Fans fall in love with role players and get emotionally attached, wondering if the team will resign them.  Then the team lets them go and the next batch of lovable Rockets comes in.  From Ron Artest to Hayes to Courtney Lee to Delfino and Garcia.  It’s a cycle that won’t stop until the foundation is in place.  What I mean is that right now, because the Rockets have yet to add that second star, flexibility is their main concern.  They can’t tie themselves down by extending role players.  But once they have that core in place–in example, if they sign Dwight Howard this summer–I think you’ll then see them resign fringe guys for the sake of chemistry and continuity.  I have way more thoughts on this topic but I’ll save those for another day.
  • Aaron Brooks came in last night and brought back memories of 2009, hitting a ’3′ from about 25 feet away with Derek Fisher right in his face.  He then proceeded to bring back even more memories by turning the ball over and shooting…and shooting…until he was pulled.  Has anyone in the history of basketball ever gotten back from China with a more misplaced sense of confidence?  I kid.  While there have been mixed results, AB has been a godsend just simply in the fact that he’s a weapon.  You have to have guys who have to be accounted for in the playoffs.  It’s as simple as that.
  • When you watch Omer Asik on the offensive end you feel like a proud father in some extended analogy which is escaping me.  The guy is literally playing his ass off to the point of exhaustion.  While looking so, so, so ugly doing it.  The predictable play where he bobbles a pass and then trips over himself trying to recover it leaves you just shaking your head thinking, “God bless you, Omer.  God bless you.”  That guy is going to keep fighting but by God, I would walk the whole yellow brick road myself if it meant convincing the Wizard to give that man some hands.
  • Omer Asik is the most underrated player in basketball; he’s one of the best value contracts in the league; he might be the most valuable player on the Rockets.
  • I’m just so glad we didn’t get swept.  Losing in 5 or 6 is just so much more dignified than going out by way of the broom.  But maybe even better is the nuisance value of making the Thunder have to go back for an extra flight.  You just can’t roll over and let people know a team disposed of you in 4 games.  At this point, I’m not expecting the Rockets to win this series, but I want that nuisance value of making the Thunder–of making Derek Fisher–travel for an extra game.  That’s my small victory, damnit.
  • I want Dwight Howard to watch this series and think, “Hmmm.  They could really have something with me in that lineup.”  That doesn’t mean getting rid of Asik.  I’d keep him too.  But that’s what this is about now.  Making yourself more attractive.  And by extending this thing, the Rockets have done that.

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  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    Tony Parker runs his share of iso's at the end of close games, again, because like Chris Paul, he is the PG and both are effective scoring, driving, passing, shooting free throws & not turning over the ball in crunch time.

    No way the Spurs or any team can run just their regular offense at the end of close games. The defense gets much tougher requiring something more.

    Have you got any evidence of this?

  • rocketrick says 11 months ago

    it's mostly mchale, although i think morey might do something a little crazy and i don't trust the PG spot ball handling wise. look at the way brooks handles the ball compared to lin (not advocating for brooks, i think he handles the ball well dribbling wise).

    As most of the regulars know, I am a strong advocate of Coach McHale. For sure the players love playing for him, he is a player's coach and he brings something to the table that a lot of coaches don't. As the Rockets develop, I expect they will continue respecting Coach McHale because of what he accomplished as a player. It's kind of hard for young players to tune out an NBA Hall of Famer who once walked in their shoes and won his share of rings.
  • rocketrick says 11 months ago Tony Parker runs his share of iso's at the end of close games, again, because like Chris Paul, he is the PG and both are effective scoring, driving, passing, shooting free throws & not turning over the ball in crunch time.

    No way the Spurs or any team can run just their regular offense at the end of close games. The defense gets much tougher requiring something more.
  • miketheodio says 11 months ago

    Why the sad face? Gotta keep the faith, the Rockets are definitely on the upswing!! Looking forward to watching our youngsters improve their games over the summer and come back to camp hungrier than ever next season!

    it's mostly mchale, although i think morey might do something a little crazy and i don't trust the PG spot ball handling wise. look at the way brooks handles the ball compared to lin (not advocating for brooks, i think he handles the ball well dribbling wise).

  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    Spurs are 9-4 in games decided by 5 or less? Nice. I guess running plays instead of isos works for them. I wonder why there aren't more teams in the league following suit.

  • rocketrick says 11 months ago

    0-4 and 6th youngest in history. it's still pretty good (youth part), i think some progress could have been made in the season with these types of situations though. it's the same scenario over and over.

    Why the sad face? Gotta keep the faith, the Rockets are definitely on the upswing!! Looking forward to watching our youngsters improve their games over the summer and come back to camp hungrier than ever next season!
  • miketheodio says 11 months ago

    Yep, the Rockets were 0-2 this year in overtime games. Not good, but not sure I would use the word "terrible" considering the Rockets are the youngest and most inexperienced team ever in the NBA playoffs!

    0-4 and 6th youngest in history. it's still pretty good (youth part), i think some progress could have been made in the season with these types of situations though. it's the same scenario over and over.

  • rocketrick says 11 months ago

    What I want to know is what the Spurs record is in close games, I've never seen them run late game isos. I'm also curious what the Clippers record in close games are, Chris Paul has the best clock management in the league.

    Spurs were 9-5 in games decided by 3 points or less this season.

    Clippers were 3-4 in games decided by 3 points or less this season (with Chris Paul running the show)
  • rocketrick says 11 months ago

    7-9 by 5 or less. would be 6-10 if oneal didn't goal tend. terrible OT record as well.

    Yep, the Rockets were 0-2 this year in overtime games. Not good, but not sure I would use the word "terrible" considering the Rockets are the youngest and most inexperienced team ever in the NBA playoffs!
  • rocketrick says 11 months ago

    What I want to know is what the Spurs record is in close games, I've never seen them run late game isos. I'm also curious what the Clippers record in close games are, Chris Paul has the best clock management in the league.

    If you abhor iso plays at the end of games, Chris Paul is definitely not your friend. He runs more iso plays at the end of close games than anyone else in the league. Of course he is their PG, too, so that has something to do with that.

    Still, I would love to see Chris Paul join the Rockets!

    Hardly anyone talks about Chris Paul and his free agency, instead all the attention mysteriously seems to be on Dwight Howard
  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    What I want to know is what the Spurs record is in close games, I've never seen them run late game isos. I'm also curious what the Clippers record in close games are, Chris Paul has the best clock management in the league.

  • miketheodio says 11 months ago

    7-9 by 5 or less. would be 6-10 if oneal didn't goal tend. terrible OT record as well.

  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    The Rockets were 5-5 in the regular season in games decided by 3 points or less. Not bad for a team as young and inexperienced as the Rockets. Of course, as Rockets fans, we would rather that have been 10-0! I just don't think people remember the close wins as much as the close losses and for some reason too many people think that the Rockets stink at the end of close games this year when that is not at all the case.

    Where did you find this statistic?

  • rocketrick says 11 months ago

    put the ball in someone else's hands and get harden to come off a screen. mchale has done a pretty good job except in close games all season. it's been a problem all year, but the same situation is repeated.

    The Rockets were 5-5 in the regular season in games decided by 3 points or less. Not bad for a team as young and inexperienced as the Rockets. Of course, as Rockets fans, we would rather that have been 10-0! I just don't think people remember the close wins as much as the close losses and for some reason too many people think that the Rockets stink at the end of close games this year when that is not at all the case.
  • rocketrick says 11 months ago I'm still preaching, apparently to an empty church. How do you accomplish running something different while also just as importantly, if not even moreso, run the clock down and shorten the game. How many more shots do you want to give Durant at the end of a close game?
  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    We have the best pick and roll shooting guard in the league, I would prefer to at least use try to try to take advantage of that but if Harden gets doubled he needs to pass. Even if he can't pass to the roller, he should pass to anyone who has a better angle at hitting the roller or making a play of their own.

    It's not really rocket science (no pun intended), soon as Harden passes out of that double team it's 4 on 3--advantage Houston.

  • miketheodio says 11 months ago

    Jordan to Paxson, Jordan to Kerr, Gary Payton to Derek Fisher, Ginobili to Horry, Harden to... *tumbleweed*... oh wait.

    Harden must have been talking to Kobe. This needs to stop.

    put the ball in someone else's hands and get harden to come off a screen. mchale has done a pretty good job except in close games all season. it's been a problem all year, but the same situation is repeated.

  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    Jordan to Paxson, Jordan to Kerr, Gary Payton to Derek Fisher, Ginobili to Horry, Harden to... *tumbleweed*... oh wait.

    Harden must have been talking to Kobe. This needs to stop.

  • rocketrick says 11 months ago

    I sound like a preacher here, but nobody is talking about the necessity of running clock at the end of the game. The best play to run in that case is probably going to be Iso unless everyone is experienced enough to know that with 8 seconds left on the shot clock, Parsons you do here and do that, Asik this is what you do, and so on and so forth. Sounds a bit more complicated to me than just putting your trust in Harden's hands knowing he is a willing passer (although admittedly lately he has been taking the shots instead of making a pass, not sure that's entirely Harden's fault though because by the end of the shot clock, all the other Rockets are just statues). Sometimes the simple play is the best play in situations like this, especially with as young and inexperienced a team as the Rockets have this season.

  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    I feel like McHale understands the game well, it's just a matter of getting his guys to buy in to everything he says and getting them to execute as well. I wouldn't be surprised if he called for an iso knowing that's what the team/Harden wanted.

  • miketheodio says 11 months ago

    in the post game mchale said they called for iso, he wanted harden to attack the basket though. completely changed his tune the next day. don't call iso if you dont want the ball to be sticky. knowing the history with it, you know harden is more than likely going to take a step back jumper.

  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    Nice article by Henry Abbott (although he assumes Harden isos are what McHale wanted which isn't true as you can see here):

    THUNDER GAME 4 vs. ROCKETS

    This has been the season that many teams have seen the light about moving the ball to the open man. For instance, instead of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade vs. the world, the Heat have surrounded their stars with deadly shooters. Predictably,it has made amassivedifference.

    The Spurs were counted out as old, but dusted almost everybody by continuing their long-term worship of uncontested shots.

    See the trend there? Good teams that don't play Hero Ball sweep the first round.

    Meanwhile, of the league's three top contending teams (Miami, San Antonio, Oklahoma City) this season, the Thunder were always the holdouts. They have long believed in isolation hoops. Perhaps this is no surprise ... their coach had a playing career that coincided almost perfectly with the heyday of isolation play. Smart research has long shown thatthe Thunder's offense is at its best when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook shot a little bit less, but the team sure does not run plays with that in mind. Their strategic approach has always been built around the idea that they wantthose guysshooting the rock.

    The Thunder roster, led by the stars, are so doggone good that makes for a top-five NBA' offense anyway. But when Westbrook went down to a knee injury, a scary new decision faced Oklahoma City. Without Westbrook, would they finally see the value in open shooters? Or would they double down in their commitment to superstars, only this time with just one left?

    The problem with having only one superstar is that my mom could draw up the defensive scheme. (On Monday night's broadcast Chris Webber saw what the Rockets were doing late to cover Durant and declared it the first time in his entire life he had seen a full-court double-team.) It's easy to make sure Durant faces a ton of defense every possession, andso what if he occasionally beats 'em all?

    The result was the Rockets -- perhaps the worst defensive team in the playoffs -- held one of the league's best offensive teams (60-game winners) to a grand total of three buckets over the game's five final minutes. In that time Derek Fisher, Kevin Martin, Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha spent all kinds of time -- on video, it's glaring -- standing all alone in position to catch and shoot. Research shows open role players in those kinds of situations arevastly more effective than covered stars. According to NBA.com's stats tool, however, those four together combined for a grand total ofoneattempt, while Durant and fill-in Westbrook -- Reggie Jackson, took all the shots.

    Simply put, with more respect for open shooters, and less fascination with who's shooting, the Thunder absolutely could have scored more. And they only had to score a tiny bit more to, you know,end the series.

    It came to a hilarious head with 12 seconds left. The Thunder had been force-feeding Durant so religiously the defense scarcely looked at anybody else. And yet, in the face of evidence timeouts only help the defense, and despitea Rockets team scrambling to get in place, the Thundercalled a timeout.

    After letting the defense get set, the Thunder flirted with turning the ball over, and ended up losing valuable seconds trying to establish Durant. He gave up his dribble in the face of tough defense, almost turned it over trying to get it to Jackson, who scrambled to create a Hail Mary out of a broken play that failed at the buzzer.

    Would it kill you to run a pick-and-roll?

    ROCKETS GAME 4 vs. THUNDER
    All the things I just wrote about Durant and the Thunder go double for the Rockets and James Harden. Kevin McHale uses Harden like you used your favorite new song when you were 12 -- again and again and again until it's completely worn out.

    As much as the Thunder offense was good all season but bad in crunch time, the Rockets are the kings of that particular dynamic, andhave been for the same reason all season. They're also famously the most analytical team in the league, meaning almost certainly somebody is telling McHale this is a bad idea, but he's doing it anyway.

    The Rockets' late-game offense consisted largely of Harden shooting tough shots against the Thunder's hand-picked defenders, Sefolosha and in one case after a switch, Ibaka, with teammates standing still and watching with the shot clock expiring. These are awful conditions for an offense -- how strange for the offense to have set up the conditions that precise way.

    Non-Harden players made two of five shots in the final five minutes. None of Harden's three shots were all that close. One was an airball.

    This is an old trend from the Lakers, which has beengenerally true throughout Kobe Bryant's career: The team builds a lead playing some kind of team-focused ball, and then the offense grinds to a halt late in games when the offense focuses increasingly on the team's "best option." In reality the team's best option is to keep using the screens, cuts, passes and movement of people and the ball that got them the lead in the first place.

  • rocketrick says 11 months ago Lots of different takes on NBA clutch shooters and crunch time over the years. It's impossible to have pure statistical analysis on this aspect of the NBA (particularly playoff games) as the sample size is either too small or we're left with comparing players of the past with a quite large sample size, current players with a smaller sample size (with exceptions being Lebron, Kobe, D-Wade, Chris Paul), current players with smaller sample sizes in the playoffs (Carmelo comes to mind right off), or even smaller sample sizes for current players that have been in the league for 3 years or less.

    Do you compare clutch shooting during the regular season with clutch shooting during playoff games only?

    Do you compare clutch shooting during the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter and overtime only?

    Or do you compare clutch shooting only in the last 1 minute of the game?

    In the end, as Rockets fans, we want our team to win in the clutch and at times we are impatient with the process of a young team gaining experience. In the long run, the Rockets and James Harden are going to be better for going through the experience of the regular season as well as the current playoff series.

    For sure, this argument will forever be out there regardless if it's the current Rockets team with James Harden or a future Rockets team with __________________ as our alpha dog.
  • Rahat Huq says 11 months ago

    http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/44191/a-better-option-than-a-superstar

  • Rahat Huq says 11 months ago

    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/7649571/nba-kobe-bryant-not-money-think-espn-magazine

  • teko says 11 months ago

    Coach McHale's word for word quote as reported by Feigen and the Houston Chronicle:

    "We wanted to attack the paint. We set up a play where I thought we had an overload situation where we could drive quick and kick out. The jump shots at the end are all-or-nothing shots. We've got to get that thing in the paint"

    My analysis on the Harden iso's at the end of the game is that the goal is to try and get a higher percentage shot in the lane. Obviously, Harden has the ball in his hands and he becomes the ultimate decision-maker. OKC is smart enough to know that the Rockets and Harden want to penetrate the lane and get a higher percentage shot. When Harden made his move, it's true he probably could have kicked out to an open man. However, he created an opening for a closer in shot by making that sweet move to get around his defender and had basically an open look at the bucket. Yes, it was one of his step back, shoot off one foot jumpers, but when he's that open, some of those shots are going to fall.

    I'm not really sure what the issue is with Harden's iso's at the end of the game. Most other teams in the NBA go to an iso in this situation. Plus it's much better strategy to shorten the game when you have the lead.

    Those that wanted the Rockets to go 2 for 1 in the final 35 seconds are crazy in my opinion especially knowing Durant is on the opposing team. Don't you remember what that dude did to us in game 3? If the Rockets had gone 2 for 1, OKC would have the benefit of an entire shot clock and somehow or another would have gotten the ball into Durant's hands. As it turned out, they only had 12 seconds left after Harden's iso and with Garcia's stellar defense on Durant at the end of the game that (1) resulted in Durant passing the ball to Jackson near half court and (2) Garcia denying a pass back from Jackson to Durant. Tick, tick, tick all of us know what happened at the end and thankfully Ibaka missed a wide open putback shot at the bucket Which by the way, if you go back and review that play, you will clearly see that Ibaka pushes Chandler Parsons away with his legs which is why Parsons was flying the opposite direction at the moment Ibaka had the putback opportunity.

    I don't get why Harden should have the ball. He had low FG% (but, that's his normal performance in the past two months) and 7 TOs prior to his re-entering the game in the 4th last night. He immediately lost the ball 3 more times and went back to the bench, with total of 10 TOs.

    What that tells us is that he didn't have the sense of ball playing last night. When you lost the sense that day you lost the sense that day. But McHale had him back in, isoed the ball and missed the final 3 jump shots.

    7:37 90-97 James Harden enters the game
    7:16 90-98 James Harden lost ball turnover (Kevin Martin steals)
    6:52 92-98 James Harden offensive foul (Derek Fisher draws the foul)
    6:52 92-98 James Harden turnover
    6:52 92-98 James Harden goes to bench

    3:15 98-104 James Harden enters the game
    1:23 101-105 James Harden misses 26-foot three point jumper
    0:54 103-105 James Harden misses 24-foot three point jumper
    0:12 103-105 James Harden misses 20-foot step back jumpshot

    Rockets have been gaining the points until Harden's re-entering to seal Rockets' offense.

    I have no problem for Harden to iso the ball IF HE CAN KEEP UP AT LEAST SOME PERFORMANCE. In fact I don't mind anyone iso the ball if he is capable of carrying the load.

    But NONE should have been given such a heavy load at crucial time when he doesn't have the sense that day.

    This pattern, in fact, has been repeating so many times especially in the late season. We see from the stat that Harden's shooting efficiency has been going down and kept at his low end in the past two months. But, still, the coach still give rely the iso of a low-FG% player to close the game. I don't know how many games we lost because of that.

  • rocketrick says 11 months ago

    I'm not opposed to having the ball in Harden's hands - it should be in his hands. I'm just advocating thata play be run. Set him a pick, bring him off a screen, something. It's naive to think that a good look will be generated if he's just dribbling up top on his own. It's natural he's going to just chuck it because if there's no movement, if he drives, obviously the lane is going to get clogged with help defenders.

    Why not just bring him off a curl so that he has the ball closer to the hoop? Why not run a pick and roll with him and Parsons? Any of these options either a) put Harden in a better position to score or B) get the other players in motion, distracting the defense.

    #1 goal in these situations is usually to shorten the game. How does a team perfectly time the pick and roll offense while at the same time run the clock down as far as possible?

    #2 goal is to have less defensive players clogging the lane. By setting a pick at the top of the circle, free throw line, etc. means there is going to be another defensive player to deal with. More traffic at the end of the game is very likely going to result in a less than stellar shot (probably contested) in most cases no matter how well the players try to run pick and roll at that time in the game.

    #3 goal is to try and goad the defensive team into double teaming Harden to force the ball out of his hands. However, lately nobody has been forcing the ball from Harden's hands.

    Last point is if pick and roll or pick and pop, etc. always works, then why does every team in the league go iso in the late stages of games? Because it is likely less risky, less turnover prone and more likely to result in an uncontested shot.

    But the bottom line is in all of this, RUN TIME OFF THE CLOCK, SHORTEN THE GAME!!

    #3 goal is
  • Rahat Huq says 11 months ago

    I'm not opposed to having the ball in Harden's hands - it should be in his hands. I'm just advocating thata play be run. Set him a pick, bring him off a screen, something. It's naive to think that a good look will be generated if he's just dribbling up top on his own. It's natural he's going to just chuck it because if there's no movement, if he drives, obviously the lane is going to get clogged with help defenders.

    Why not just bring him off a curl so that he has the ball closer to the hoop? Why not run a pick and roll with him and Parsons? Any of these options either a) put Harden in a better position to score or b) get the other players in motion, distracting the defense.

  • thejohnnygold says 11 months ago

    I'm with ya--the only thing i would have changed is to let parsons go for the last shot...he was playing great.

  • rocketrick says 11 months ago

    New post: Postgame thoughts on Game 4
    By: rahat huq

    • First, the bad: those last three plays to close out regulation, where Harden, true to form, ISOed his man before stepping back for a jumper were despicable. At this point, I don't even know what to say. You know it's coming. If the game is close, the Rockets are going to ISO Harden. Luckily tonight, they were able to overcome but they won't, and haven't been, that lucky. The funny thing is, after hearing Kevin McHale in the postgame presser, it's become clear that that's the play they're calling! I don't even have any words! He said, paraphrased, when asked about those possessions, that he was hoping Harden would be able to get into the paint. Essentially, Kevin McHale's objection to those possessions was simply the end result! dljfakj948934oqj3l4jl#$#$!!!! It's funny because there was a belief that McHale actually wanted the team to move the ball in these possessions, stemming from his statements about the ball "becoming sticky," and that Harden was going off-cue against his coach's wishes. But it's become clear that McHale is actually calling for these ISOs. I don't know what to say. Okay, enough negativity.
    • I seriously can't believe they ran three straight ISOs to close out the game. I can't believe it. I'm speechless. Ok, I'm done on that, I promise.
    Coach McHale's word for word quote as reported by Feigen and the Houston Chronicle:

    "We wanted to attack the paint. We set up a play where I thought we had an overload situation where we could drive quick and kick out. The jump shots at the end are all-or-nothing shots. We've got to get that thing in the paint"

    My analysis on the Harden iso's at the end of the game is that the goal is to try and get a higher percentage shot in the lane. Obviously, Harden has the ball in his hands and he becomes the ultimate decision-maker. OKC is smart enough to know that the Rockets and Harden want to penetrate the lane and get a higher percentage shot. When Harden made his move, it's true he probably could have kicked out to an open man. However, he created an opening for a closer in shot by making that sweet move to get around his defender and had basically an open look at the bucket. Yes, it was one of his step back, shoot off one foot jumpers, but when he's that open, some of those shots are going to fall.

    I'm not really sure what the issue is with Harden's iso's at the end of the game. Most other teams in the NBA go to an iso in this situation. Plus it's much better strategy to shorten the game when you have the lead.

    Those that wanted the Rockets to go 2 for 1 in the final 35 seconds are crazy in my opinion especially knowing Durant is on the opposing team. Don't you remember what that dude did to us in game 3? If the Rockets had gone 2 for 1, OKC would have the benefit of an entire shot clock and somehow or another would have gotten the ball into Durant's hands. As it turned out, they only had 12 seconds left after Harden's iso and with Garcia's stellar defense on Durant at the end of the game that (1) resulted in Durant passing the ball to Jackson near half court and (2) Garcia denying a pass back from Jackson to Durant. Tick, tick, tick all of us know what happened at the end and thankfully Ibaka missed a wide open putback shot at the bucket Which by the way, if you go back and review that play, you will clearly see that Ibaka pushes Chandler Parsons away with his legs which is why Parsons was flying the opposite direction at the moment Ibaka had the putback opportunity.
  • Freebird says 11 months ago

    This is an understatement.

    That is an overstatement. :)

    And I agree with you, JG - Parsons *should* have gotten 1 or 2 of those last 3 possessions. He was cutting the hell outta them all game.

    I don't mind the ISO if a couple of things happen first. Move the ball, get some picks, and ISO into the matchup you want. Then have a PLAN - the guy is smaller, so I can get a shot over him. The guy is bigger, so drive around. They double up, so kick it. They didn't get a matchup, and Harden ad-libbed to hero ball. And yes - everyone knew what was happening, and his shot was off all night - except when he went to the rim.

    Sigh. So lucky.

  • thejohnnygold says 11 months ago

    No one really talks about clutch defense unless there was a block or steal or something tangible, but Asik's defense wasdefinitelyclutch last night to me.

    This is an understatement.

  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    No one really talks about clutch defense unless there was a block or steal or something tangible, but Asik's defense wasdefinitelyclutch last night to me.

  • thenit says 11 months ago

    Agree Rahat on all of your points.

  • thenit says 11 months ago

    Since our record decided in OT and with less than 3 points are shit which I would attribute to that we can't finish the game and 95% of the times Harden has been taking the shot whether he is hot or cold, he is not there yet. I don't mind having Harden figure it out, but he already had game 2 and 3 to do it and he couldn't. Playoffs are too important to waste, imaginge if we won one of those games it would have been 2-2 series with Westbrook out. Last night he was awful again, so I believe you go with the hot hand. If not at least attack the paint and drive and kick or try to make something happen instead of just waiting outside and the throw up a 3. Parsons should have at least had one of those 3 possesions.

  • Red94 says 11 months ago New post: And so we live to see another day
    By: rahat huq


    • It's extremely difficult to not get greedy and push from one's mind the thought that the Rockets could, nay, should, be up 3-1 right now.  On the flip side, given their late-game execution, they are extremely lucky to have not gotten swept.  They shouldn't have won last night.  Running three consecutive ISOs to close the game, they escaped by the skin of their teeth last night with a victory.  What scares me is that I don't think they, or their coach, realize how lucky they got.  As I explained last night, initially after the debacle against the Lakers, I had blamed McHale for this complete breakdown in late game situations, thinking he was calling for the ISOs.  Then, after Games 2 and 3, after hearing his comments about needing to move the ball, I speculated that the blame should probably be cast upon Harden and that he was ignoring his coach.  But McHale's postgame comments last night seemed to confirm my initial fears.  When asked about the possessions, he expressed dismay that Harden didn't drive the ball and get into the paint.  He didn't express dismay over the lack of a pick or the lack of any semblance of a play - he expressed dismay over the result of the ISO.  This revelation is so, so disturbing that it almost takes away from the enjoyment and relief of winning simply because it's an explication of the inevitable.  Sure, the Rockets will probably get this fixed out in the offseason once Morey gets involved.  But for now, you see the writing on the wall: they escaped alive, but this is how it will end; at some point, unless they're blown out, the Rockets' season will be over because they'll revert to Hero-ball at the end of the game.  They won't fix it because it's by design.




    • It just completely defies all logic.  Your offense is rolling, destroying one of the top ranked defenses in the league.  The ball is hopping, Garcia and Delfino are en fuego, pun intended, Asik is cleaning the glass and Parsons is driving at will.  So what do you do once the clock hits inside two minutes?  Naturally, the complete opposite.  It just makes zero sense by any sense of rationale.  In what world is a contested stepback jumper, even from your best player, a higher percentage option than a repetition of what you had been doing to build a lead?

    • I almost think they do it because they expect it.  They think that that's just what's supposed to happen at the end of the game.  You know how there are always certain things in sports which defy logic but are done because they are so engrained into the collective conscience?  Like sliding to first-base when it doesn't get you there any faster than running.  I think this is an example of that.  But what's troubling is the coach's endorsement of it.

    • I'm getting depressed thinking that we may soon be seeing the last games of Carlos Delfino and Francisco Garcia in Rockets uniforms.  Garcia, for sure, unless he takes a significant pay-cut, will be headed elsewhere, while the odds on Delfino returning too are not so great if the team hopes to make a big acquisition.  They've been fun and it's funny because this happens almost every season.  Fans fall in love with role players and get emotionally attached, wondering if the team will resign them.  Then the team lets them go and the next batch of lovable Rockets comes in.  From Ron Artest to Hayes to Courtney Lee to Delfino and Garcia.  It's a cycle that won't stop until the foundation is in place.  What I mean is that right now, because the Rockets have yet to add that second star, flexibility is their main concern.  They can't tie themselves down by extending role players.  But once they have that core in place--in example, if they sign Dwight Howard this summer--I think you'll then see them resign fringe guys for the sake of chemistry and continuity.  I have way more thoughts on this topic but I'll save those for another day.

    • Aaron Brooks came in last night and brought back memories of 2009, hitting a '3' from about 25 feet away with Derek Fisher right in his face.  He then proceeded to bring back even more memories by turning the ball over and shooting...and shooting...until he was pulled.  Has anyone in the history of basketball ever gotten back from China with a more misplaced sense of confidence?  I kid.  While there have been mixed results, AB has been a godsend just simply in the fact that he's a weapon.  You have to have guys who have to be accounted for in the playoffs.  It's as simple as that.

    • When you watch Omer Asik on the offensive end you feel like a proud father in some extended analogy which is escaping me.  The guy is literally playing his ass off to the point of exhaustion.  While looking so, so, so ugly doing it.  The predictable play where he bobbles a pass and then trips over himself trying to recover it leaves you just shaking your head thinking, "God bless you, Omer.  God bless you."  That guy is going to keep fighting but by God, I would walk the whole yellow brick road myself if it meant convincing the Wizard to give that man some hands.

    • Omer Asik is the most underrated player in basketball; he's one of the best value contracts in the league; he might be the most valuable player on the Rockets.

    • I'm just so glad we didn't get swept.  Losing in 5 or 6 is just so much more dignified than going out by way of the broom.  But maybe even better is the nuisance value of making the Thunder have to go back for an extra flight.  You just can't roll over and let people know a team disposed of you in 4 games.  At this point, I'm not expecting the Rockets to win this series, but I want that nuisance value of making the Thunder--of making Derek Fisher--travel for an extra game.  That's my small victory, damnit.

    • I want Dwight Howard to watch this series and think, "Hmmm.  They could really have something with me in that lineup."  That doesn't mean getting rid of Asik.  I'd keep him too.  But that's what this is about now.  Making yourself more attractive.  And by extending this thing, the Rockets have done that.

  • thejohnnygold says 11 months ago

    Speaking of game pulse, did anyone else think Chandler Parsons should have had the ball the last three or so possessions to close out the game?

  • Freebird says 11 months ago

    Completely agree, pharmag. Harden needs to learn to drive and kick, and NOT keep kicking his head back hoping for the foul. It's been 4 games - has he NOT learned that they aren't going to call that much anymore (sansblatantslaps)? Adding the kick to his arsenal will make it easier to get to the rim, as well - folks will become loathe to help away from our shooters.

    Also, as a team, we need to keep track of the game pulse. Asik was have a hella good time with O-Boards. Drive a bit earlier, get he shot off, and let Omer work!

    We have Garcia's Bird Rights, yes? I think we should find a way to fit him. Plus, as the village elder, perhaps all he needs is respect, not cash. Unlikely, but still...

  • pharmag says 11 months ago

    Personally, I don't have an issue with end game isolations. It is hard to run our offense and the clock at the same time. I honestly think that is why lots of teams do it.

    In an offense predicated on ball movement without a big man you can throw it into at 8 seconds and let him work, it is all about taking the first open shot. If that happens with 18 seconds left, then enough time isn't taken off the clock. However, at the same time, most teams are keyed in defensively and are going to make it difficult, increasing the likelihood you never get an open shot and are heaving a prayer (or shot clock violation). Therefore, spread it out and let your best guy off the dribble take his man makes some sense.

    All that being said, Harden has to learn how isolations work. He pretty much either drives helter-skelter into lane looking for a foul and not the shot, or he puts up a step-back jumper (which isn't really in his arsenal yet). Just cause he is in isolation doesn't mean he has to take the last shot. Taking it in at 8, draw the weakside defender on help and kick it to the 3 point shooter is a much better shot than some of the stuff he takes. I think this is all meant to let him learn, both himself and how to play with this team in end-game situations.

  • thejohnnygold says 11 months ago

    I'm sold on Garcia--actually have been for a while, but that $6.4M contract is rough. Is he worth it? Maybe.....he does so much more than Delfino....twice as much? Yes, actually...he does. He is more consistent shooting, defends better, and brings a tough guy edge to the team versus Delfino's pretty boy charm...or whatever that is....

    Say, we can somehow get Josh Smith for around $14M and bring Garcia back that gets us into some serious defensive line-ups that still pack punch. Harden at point, with garcia, parsons, smith, and asik....oh yeah. The money would be tight on this one....if we go with Millsap it works better...although, I like it a little less.

  • Freebird says 11 months ago

    I agree with you Rahat - the ISOs that end with the hero jack have GOT to stop. After listening to McHale, though, I'm wondering if he knows that this is something Harden needs to learn through direct experience? Ergo - if you need a point, get to the paint.

    Has Garcia played his way into a new contract with us? I think maybe he has. I've been pleasantly surprised by Delfino's play this year, but I'm starting to think maybe we keep Garcia over him, if the choice had to be made. I could see both back, though. Depending on who we can lure into town.

    Brooks just needs a bit more time with the guys to shake off all that rust. I think that's a good comparison - Brooks as a pre-Beverley. BTW - how bad is that elbow cut on Bev's brow? He's had the bandage for 2 weeks! Unless it's a Nelly thing? He IS starting to heat up... :)

    Will Lin be back for G5?

  • miketheodio says 11 months ago

    the ability to execute in close games is concerning. i guess that's all inexperience, just wish there was some improvement shown in that area during the season (iso's and mchale). i hope the rockets find a way to hold on to chandler parsons. i also hope harden isn't so reliant on foul calls next season. depends on the ref whistle too much. he needs to actually try to get the ball in the basket in addition to creating contact.