Los Angeles Clippers 106, Houston Rockets 96 – First Quarters Are Important

The Clippers proved, tonight, that every quarter in an NBA game matters, not just the fourth. The Rockets shot over 50% from the field and scored 28 points in the first frame, but still found themselves on the wrong side of an 18 point deficit. With the rest of the game only changing the lead by 8 points, the first quarter determined the outcome immediately. The Rockets now head back home to host All-Star weekend and have a week for James Harden (ankle, knee) and Toney Douglas (hip pointer) to heal up before their next game.

For Houston, there are some silver linings to this loss. Most notable was that Donatas Motiejunas played 15:45 and had the best +/- on the team (+9). “D-Mo” shot 5-8, including a finisher on an alley-oop and then a sweeping hook shot on the next possession. He grabbed 3 boards and had 2 assists to cap off a very nice evening for him. Whether playing in the D-League has helped prepare him for the NBA, or he’s simply this decent, it’s promising for Houston to see one of their rookies use minutes well. Will the back up big rotation seemingly in chaos, perhaps some help can come from within the team.

Another silver lining is that James Harden will be back. For about thirty minutes, he was listed as active and starting for Houston, but this was rescinded. He’s day-to-day as it is, and is seemingly not suffering too much from his ankle roll in Golden State. The Rockets clearly suffered without their star, and seem likely to have him back by the time Oklahoma City comes to town next Wednesday. The Rockets also played moderately well against one of the best teams in the league, with players like Parsons stepping up.

Parsons led the team in scoring: 17 points on 16 shots. His 6 rebounds and 4 assists helped his case, though 5 turnovers is unusually high for him. Parsons looked solid on the floor, barring a flagrant foul against his old friend Blake Griffin. Once again, he showed that he’s happy to fill in whatever role is needed, and tonight it was scoring. He’s not used to having as many touches as he did tonight, but managed to score acceptably despite missing all four of his three pointers.

The Rockets at large struggled from three point land, hitting a miserable 20.8% (5-24) (The Clippers had no such trouble, and ended the night with very nice 40.6%.) Delfino especially struggled, hitting only one of his five attempts from downtown, and going 1-6 overall. His best contribution was a couple assists, and some average defense. In a game where everyone had to show up and score to make up for the lack of Harden and Douglas and their scoring, Delfino failed to bring any.

Lin, on the other hand, was aggressive the whole night, even when getting kicked by Ryan Hollins. Lin had 14 points on 12 shots and hit 5 of 6 free throws. While his 4 turnovers were a bit much, he also dished 7 dimes. Lin continues to be more turnover prone and less efficient than the Rockets need him to be, but he’s been more active and aggressive with the ball. It may not always be pretty, but he’s still trying to make strides in the right direction.

Patterson and Asik were the only starters to knock down more than half their shots, and both players looked decent. Patterson heated up late and hit 6-11 shots to go with a 6 rebounds, which is an improvement for him on the boards. His midrange shot is still very pretty, and he’s dunking more and more often. His post-up is even looking better. His partner in the paint, Omer Asik, also tried out some post moves, though with… limited success. Once or twice a game the Rockets let Asik do some post work, and while the results aren’t fantastic, practice will hopefully improve his skills. Asik shot 3-5 and grabbed 7 rebounds. Both numbers are low for him, but his minutes (25) were also a little down from average.

The final upside of the Rockets’ loss to the Clippers is that the Clippers win was propped up on a herculean performance in the first quarter. It’s unlikely that the Rockets see such a barrage again for the rest of the year. The other team gave up 18 turnovers and won by double digits. The Clippers shot 77% in the first frame, a feat which the Rockets are unlikely to see again all year. Houston’s turnovers, perimeter defense and transition defense continues to give up easy points, but even the worst teams in the NBA don’t give up 46 points in one quarter.

With the All-Star break right in front of them, the Rockets came out with a particularly lackluster performance, something they had in common with much of the league. To their credit, they fought back somewhat and didn’t let the Clippers dominate them in the following quarters. The damage, however, had already been done. Houston comes home with a 29-26 record at the break, a game and a half behind 7th place Utah, but three games ahead of 9th place Portland. With a week to wash the bad taste of a terrible first quarter out of their mouths, Houston looks forward to the remaining 27 games of the season, hoping to get a few more in the playoffs.

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  • thejohnnygold says 3 YEARs ago Regarding the game, I think this was a case of the cliche'd "speed of the game" problem. The rockets just couldn't keep up defensively and on offense were just a little bit out of control trying to match their opponent's speed. It's something I am used to seeing in college games more so than the NBA. In fact, I almost always get to see it twice a year when UT plays Kansas. The good news, this is a problem fixed by experience. In time, they won't rush those three pointers, they won't force those passes, and they will convert those lay-ups. I think this must be why watching Paul Pierce play always makes me think he is moving so slow and I wonder how he is still able to do what he does...dude is just sooooo calm and collected. It's kind of amazing.
  • thejohnnygold says 3 YEARs ago I'm taking my cue from every feel-good-sports-movie :rolleyes:
  • Mario Peña says 3 YEARs ago I have seen the interview with Tony talking about Pop when it aired. I actually have that recorded.
  • Sir Thursday says 3 YEARs ago

    timetodienow1234567, on 14 February 2013 - 18:30 PM said:

    I guess you can look at it like that. I just think that Pop is the GOAT at coaching and he tells at EVERYBODY so maybe I'm just not recognizing that different coaches can get it done in different ways.

    Actually, it's well known that Popovich gave special attention to Tony Parker when he was a young player.

    Here's a snippet of an interview with Parker:


    SLAM: Can you explain what your relationship with Pop is like?
    TP: Oh, it’s a great relationship. Arriving at 19 in San Antonio, and he always pushed me as hard as he can do make the best player I can [be>. It’s been like a father-son relationship. It’s been great. I’ve never had a relationship like that with a coach, where he finally lets you do your thing and gives you enough freedom to let you do your thing. For me, he’s one of the greatest coaches in NBA history.
    SLAM: He’s known to be pretty tough. When you first got to San Antonio, at age 19…
    TP: Oh, you can ask anybody, any of my teammates, [they’ll tell you> I was the one that got it the most. Sometimes in film sessions it was like The Tony Parker Show. He was so hard on me.
    SLAM: Why?
    TP: Because he wanted me to be good right away. I was 19, so he had to accelerate [my game>. He was really hard on me. Now he’s laid back. Now he only screams at our young guys. Sometimes I joke with him, like, You’re going soft! [Laughs>
    SLAM: When he went so intensely on you back then, were you terrified of him?
    TP: No, because he knew how to push my buttons. The people who scream at me—I react even more, I don’t fold. I think Pop knew that and that’s why he rode me, because he knew that I was gonna react, and that I was tough.

    And here's one with Popovich:


    When Parker came to San Antonio as a 19-year-old from Paris, the lengthy and often painful process of earning his hard-nosed coach's trust began immediately. As Popovich reminisced in a colorful and candid pregame media session on Wednesday, Parker's path to being taken 28th in the 2001 draft included the day he was shown the Spurs' door.
    "I was a [jerk> in the beginning," Popovich admitted. "The first time we worked him out, we didn't want him. We sent him away. We just said we weren't interested. I just thought he was unfocused. I just thought he was too cool. I thought he was soft.
    "He wanted a second chance, so we brought in some free agents -- frankly, with the idea to beat him up, and we did a workout. The whole workout was on the post. We never put him out on the floor. We did post defense and post offense, and he impressed the hell out of me. He was focused, tough. That was my first indication that he could be coached -- he can learn, he understands, he can take criticism, he's willing to improve and listen. So we drafted him."
    But tough love was brutal in those early years.

    "'I'm going to just jump on top of you,'" Popovich said he told Parker when he made him a starter early in his rookie season. "'I'm going to get you for every single mistake. We don't have time for you to ease into this.' So he went right in the frying pan."'

    Not saying the situation is in any way comparable with McHale/Lin, but it's definitely one example of a top coach being hard on his Point Guard.

  • Mario Peña says 3 YEARs ago So to actually stay on topic I have to say I did not watch the game but I did listen to most of the second half on Rockets radio broadcast. Sounded like Motiejunas was ready to play on a positive note. Unfortunately the defense couldn't slow down the Clippers and turnovers were again a problem. Pretty relieved we have Harden, we could have been stuck with last nights line up and Kevin Martin.
  • Mario Peña says 3 YEARs ago I hope no one is comparing Pop from the present to McHale. They are in completely different situations. McHale is just beginning to build this team whereas Pop has spent a decade with his core players. I would venture an educated guess that Pop's relationships with Manu, Parker and Duncan have evolved over years and were appropriate for what the team and player needed at the time. There is no way forum members on a message board to know who coaches are yelling at and who they do not pay attention to from watching select footage during broadcasts of games. If you think you have an idea of the inner workings of an NBA team you probably need to reassess your grip on reality. Seriously, we should all try to have good reasons for our opinions and not pick one moment we see during a game broadcast or one quote and run with that.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 3 YEARs ago I guess you can look at it like that. I just think that Pop is the GOAT at coaching and he tells at EVERYBODY so maybe I'm just not recognizing that different coaches can get it done in different ways.
  • thejohnnygold says 3 YEARs ago TTDN, Lin is the quarterback. Harden may be the star, but ultimately I think McHale wants Lin to "lead" this team. Leaders get different treatment from coaches. The coaches yell at them and Lin is supposed to yell at the other players. That's the deal. It is an honor and a sign of respect that the coach chooses to yell at Jeremy. You know what sucks? Getting ignored by the coach because he doesn't expect more out of you. Get it?

    Regarding the game, totally agree ale11 that this game had LOSS written all over it. The manner we lost was pretty bad and ended up just making me laugh. I'd congratulate us for limiting them to 6 offensive rebounds, but that's only because there were no missed shots to corral on their end. We forced 19 turnovers....because they started playing like they were the Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals. Sooooo, what was actually good?

    D-MO! Offensively and physically he is as advertised and should have ended at least 6-8 from the floor by my count. Dude looked fast, agile, quick and coordinated....I am a little giddy. The play where he lost the ball, it bounced off of a clipper and he just kept rolling to the basket, grabbed the ball and finished. YES. Not every player can do that...maybe it was luck, but I saw something there.

    Morris better watch out because D-Mo is closing the gap. Hopefully he sees that too and starts getting it together. Not much else to take from this game...except that the Clips looked really good and we, mostly, did not.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 3 YEARs ago I thought Parsons did well. He did drive crazily a few times, but other than that decent game. And Asik caught a bounce pass which was amazing. We got to see some D-Mo. Beverley played some SG which he didn't suck at too bad. All in all, a decent game for the Rockets. You'd expect a loss against a top 3 team in the West that's completely healthy. I was just wondering why the coach was going crazy at Lin. This entire team struggled in that first quarter and CP3 was getting a few phantom calls. I enjoyed the game.
  • ale11 says 3 YEARs ago timetodienow: Please! Could you just once, any time, talk about someone else? You are always praising Lin or complaining when McHale benches him or says something to him. Maybe you are not a Rockets' fan, maybe you are just a fan of Lin, but if you are indeed a Rockets' fan, please, do me a favour and give some other opinion, it's getting a bit boring. I'm sorry, maybe it's just me and I'm being very rude, I apologize if that's the case, but maybe it's not just me.

    We completely handed them the game in the first quarter, end of story. When our offense was stucked, everyone was looking for Harden to save them but he wasn't there. I couldn't believe the amount of times our players were forced to pick up the dribble, sometimes it didn't even require double teams. Like it was noted on the transmision: both teams can score, only one of them played defense in that first quarter....46 points is unacceptable, even for unexperienced teams.

    It was the second game of a back-to-back and we were playing a team that's called to contend for the WC, in their court, so.....it was a completely "loseable" game, with or without Harden. But, there are ways and ways to lose, the final score doesn't tell the whole story.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 3 YEARs ago I thought Lin played decently. Not a great performance, but did you see Mchale RIP into Lin. I don't mind because he does make some mistakes that need to be corrected, but it seems like he doesn't rip into everybody equally. I mean, I've never seen him rip into Asik when he turns the ball over. I think Lin's continue to improve, but it'll be in spite of Mchale.
  • Red94 says 3 YEARs ago New post: Los Angeles Clippers 106, Houston Rockets 96 - First Quarters Are Important
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