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Los Angeles Clippers @ Houston Rockets on 3/30/2013, 7:00pm CST.

In the aftermath of the victory over San Antonio last Sunday, I believed that winning one of the next three games, during what has seemingly been dubbed “Hell Week”, would all but guarantee a Houston playoff berth for the first time since 2009.  Unfortunately, a slow start against Indiana and a total inability to figure out the All-Star Memphis frontcourt means that if the Rockets wish to accomplish that, they will have to do it on the tail end of a back-to-back against their toughest opponent yet, one whom the Rockets have lost to twice and not beaten this season.

Fortunately, there are a few advantages.  The Clippers also played last night, losing at San Antonio thanks to a Tim Duncan game-winner.  The Rockets should also be as well-rested as one can be for this game because Kevin McHale, whether out of frustration or waving the white flag, benched the Houston starting lineup for the entire 4th quarter of yesterday’s game.   Yet while the Clippers have clinched a playoff spot and will almost certainly win the Pacific Division for the first time in their franchise’s not-quite-sterling history, the team is still competing with Memphis and the Denver Nuggets in a battle for the 3rd through 5th seeds, and thus do have something to play for tonight.

At this point, everyone more or less knows what the Clippers are about.  They are led by Chris Paul, the best point guard in the league despite an excellent season from Mr. Parker, and my pick for MVP earlier this season before LeBron did a LeBron.  Paul has not exactly been shooting the ball well lately, averaging a sub .300 percentage from long range in March, but still knows the contours of the game as well as the ability to slow down and change pace whenever he needs to.  They of course have Griffin, who I believe has had so many people overrating him thanks to his dunks that he’s actually underrated – Griffin’s PER, after all, is just a smidgen behind Harden’s and the man has a developing post game for one who turned 24 two weeks ago.

Houston will need to contain Paul and also prevent the most athletic power forward in the league from utterly destroying Motiejunas, shortly after a game where Donatas, while effective on offense, simply had no change at stopping Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol.  The Rockets will need production from James Harden, who has struggled against elite perimeter defenders in Paul George and Tony Allen but will be going up against an easier backcourt of Willie Green and Jamaal Crawford.  And the Rockets will also need their bench to match one of the best in the league, as Grant Hill continues to putter along, Lamar Odom has reached a level which while nowhere close to his Sixth Man of the Year performance in 2011, is far better than his disastrous stint in Dallas in 2012, and Jamaal Crawford is a legitimate candidate to win that very award.

In short, Houston is going to need a lot of things to go right for tonight’s game and for “Hell Week” to end on a high and successful note.  But when one is facing a team that still has a legitimate shot for a championship, that is just how it is.

 

Update at 6 pm: Harden out due to a foot injury per Jason Friedman.  James Anderson starting in place .  Well, this will be interesting.

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About the author: Write for a living, though not in sports. Been following the Rockets my whole life, with Stockton’s shot being my first memory. Consequently traumatized.

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Total comments: 33
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    So perhaps you'd like Coach McHale more if he changed his moniker to Preacher McHale??????

    Truthfully though, RBF, even you have to agree that simply preaching or yelling or whatever your preference for conveying the message, on it's own isn't going to turn an unexperienced NBA player into an All-Star. Life just doesn't work that way. Only if it did!!!!!!!!!

    see....see you trying to pick a fight :lol: :lol:it took me a minute to recover from that.....on a more serious note...I agree with you on all but the preacher McHale part. it doesn't really matterhow you do it ........just get the job done

  • rocketrick says 1 YEAR ago

    just because he says it in an interview doesn't mean he's preaching it to the team. McHale talks a good game, but coaching one is a hole different ballgame. you want to show me something then find a practice with him yelling it. you see if you don't teach it in practice then that's why we keep loosing focus on it during games. fact is I have heard him say it a few times, but action speaks louder than words. also look in other threads where we have discussed the fact that McHale may not even be a good x's and o's coach....he a motivator right? so his postgame statement may be the result of his bench coaches telling him what to say. i'm not sure, but one thing I am sure about if he was really preaching it to the team as hard as you say it would not be as much of a problem as it has been in some of the games we have played.

    So perhaps you'd like Coach McHale more if he changed his moniker to Preacher McHale??????

    Truthfully though, RBF, even you have to agree that simply preaching or yelling or whatever your preference for conveying the message, on it's own isn't going to turn an unexperienced NBA player into an All-Star. Life just doesn't work that way. Only if it did!!!!!!!!!

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    I feel like you're being a little hypocritical here, you have provided less evidence to your claims than I have. Perhaps we should stop this conversation before things escalate.

    escalate into what?...........you are no threat to me verbally or physically. if you can't hold your emotions out of the conversation then stop posting comments for someone like me to disagree with and you won't feel rained on. stat geeks always make me laugh. every part of the game can not be defined by stats and you fail to miss that point. sure they are helpful, but are not a know-all be-all means for determining all aspects of the game. when you figure that out then we will be able to have a higher level conversation. until then go ahead and continue to quote your stats and I will continue to shoot them down like ducks on a pond. however save your insults to be better used on someone who gives a sh^t about what you think.....because I don't

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I don't have a problem with that........just stick to the facts tho.

    I feel like you're being a little hypocritical here, you have provided less evidence to your claims than I have. Perhaps we should stop this conversation before things escalate.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I'm not an extremist, so don't call me one. His comment was "What makes you so sure he's not preaching it practice? You're just assuming the worst of him with no proof while demanding proof from anyone who disagrees." I responded that nobody had proof. If that makes me an extremist than what does that make you? I'm starting to get sick and tired of Mchale lovers that feel the need to insult people who don't think he's the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    I don't think it's anyone's intention here to insult anyone. If anyone does cross the line I'm sure 'feelingsupersonic' will chime in so don't worry, there is no need to get hot and bothered.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    Because he's being unfaily attacked/criticized like crazy. I'm the yin to the yang.

    I don't have a problem with that........just stick to the facts tho.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    So what you're saying is that nobody has any proof. We just have to go with our gut feelings? Then why are you defending Mchale like crazy?

    Because he's being unfaily attacked/criticized like crazy. I'm the yin to the yang.

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago So you're not an Anti-McHale extremist?
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    I'm not an extremist, so don't call me one. His comment was "What makes you so sure he's not preaching it practice? You're just assuming the worst of him with no proof while demanding proof from anyone who disagrees." I responded that nobody had proof. If that makes me an extremist than what does that make you? I'm starting to get sick and tired of Mchale lovers that feel the need to insult people who don't think he's the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    totally agree.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago

    2016 found prove. He listed a half dozen links for RBF to see. When confronted with facts that go against his beliefs, RBF then moved the goal posts.

    @2016: Extremists can't be confenced the beliefs or others might have a point. And that goes for Left or Right, Pro Life or Choice, McHale believers/ McHale Bashers.

    I'm not an extremist, so don't call me one. His comment was "What makes you so sure he's not preaching it practice? You're just assuming the worst of him with no proof while demanding proof from anyone who disagrees." I responded that nobody had proof. If that makes me an extremist than what does that make you? I'm starting to get sick and tired of Mchale lovers that feel the need to insult people who don't think he's the greatest thing since sliced bread.

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago

    So what you're saying is that nobody has any proof. We just have to go with our gut feelings? Then why are you defending Mchale like crazy?


    2016 found prove. He listed a half dozen links for RBF to see. When confronted with facts that go against his beliefs, RBF then moved the goal posts.

    @2016: Extremists can't be confenced the beliefs or others might have a point. And that goes for Left or Right, Pro Life or Choice, McHale believers/ McHale Bashers.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago

    What makes you so sure he's not preaching it practice? You're just assuming the worst of him with no proof while demanding proof from anyone who disagrees.

    So what you're saying is that nobody has any proof. We just have to go with our gut feelings? Then why are you defending Mchale like crazy?

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    What makes you so sure he's not preaching it practice? You're just assuming the worst of him with no proof while demanding proof from anyone who disagrees.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    just because he says it in an interview doesn't mean he's preaching it to the team. McHale talks a good game, but coaching one is a hole different ballgame. you want to show me something then find a practice with him yelling it. you see if you don't teach it in practice then that's why we keep loosing focus on it during games. fact is I have heard him say it a few times, but action speaks louder than words. also look in other threads where we have discussed the fact that McHale may not even be a good x's and o's coach....he a motivator right? so his postgame statement may be the result of his bench coaches telling him what to say. i'm not sure, but one thing I am sure about if he was really preaching it to the team as hard as you say it would not be as much of a problem as it has been in some of the games we have played.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Geez do you want me to find every time he mentioned it? That's alot of work but I'll find a few.

    Quote after the recent Pacer's game:

    “We’re a little more read and react,” McHale said. “It’s systemic to our team
    not moving the ball, not moving bodies enough, just being a little bit stagnant"

    Quote after the Grizzlies game:

    “We had bad spacing, and we weren’t moving the ball,” McHale said. “We
    weren’t moving the defense. They just locked us down. It’s been three games of
    that. They’re going to really run at James and try to get the ball out of his
    hands. We’re going to have to adjust to that and play with more movement earlier
    in the clock."

    During the game:

    Coach Kevin McHale shouted “Move it! Move it! Move it!” Again, no one did. (link)

    Quote during the 7 game losing streak:

    "We have to play with pace. We have to move the ball. The ball can't get sticky.
    It's got to go from side to side."(link)

    December:

    After the game, Kevin McHale called the ball "sticky" as the Rockets tried to
    run their offensive sets, basically saying there wasn't enough ball
    movement. (link)

    After the Wizards game:

    "Yeah, we were sticky again tonight," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "We didn't
    have great movement and our spacing got a little bit funky. We chased the ball a
    little too much." (link)

    Alot of talk about ball movement again here after the Hornets game

    After the Nuggets game:

    "We're not cutting, the ball's sticky, it's just a lot of stuff we've got to
    correct," McHale said. "We've got to get better at ball movement, we've got to
    get better ball and body movement." (link)

    and I shouldn't need to remind you there was a lot of praise from McHale about the ball movement after the Clippers game since it was so recent. I can easily find several more but I think you should do that since you're the "Rockets best fan" or so you claim...

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    I've been watching all the post game interviews, and just based on the things the players and McHale have said, I can tell you you're wrong.

    I've watched those same interviews, and have on occasion seen some mention it, but I have not seen a steady parade of this idea being pushed. most of what I hearing relates to focus and energy, not ball movement and gritty defense

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    Is RBF RedStewie?

    NO..... I'm not. are you?

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago Is RBF RedStewie?
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I've been watching all the post game interviews, and just based on the things the players and McHale have said, I can tell you you're wrong.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    McHale has been doing a lot of things, but preaching ain't one of them :lol:

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    The whole season McHale has been preaching to move the ball like a hot potato and play gritty defense. This was one of those games where the players actually applied his lessons, but watch us forget these lessons at least2 more games this season to put us down around 20 points before we wake up and make a come back victory.

  • Richards says 1 YEAR ago

    Only different in this game was very good ball movement. Blow out win over Clippers with nobody scoring more than 15 points was total shocker.

    I wonder how many times McHale used the word "ball movement" today even after the game.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Yep, like Phaketrash said the LAC have been very good on b2b's (12-6 coming into this game), and you wouldn't have guessed that watching after what we saw tonight. I'm not saying we shouldn't put any salt on this win at all, put a little salt on but don't just scoff it off like we didn't do anything. I think almost every Rockets fan expected us to get blown out without Harden, but then we're the ones who do the blowing out and all of a sudden it's no big deal. There's some really questionable Rockets fans out there I have to say, my apologies if it angers them to hear me say this was a great win but that's just how I see it.

  • Red94 says 1 YEAR ago New post: Houston Rockets 98, Los Angeles Clippers 81: I think we’re going to the playoffs.
  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago

    Interesting point that was brought up. As the Rockets have been notoriously bad on the 2nd night of b2bs, and LAC very good, I have to give props to McHale for benching the starters last night so that they'd be rested for this game. Sure, the bench gave us the real spark, but I approved of the move both for the rest and for the message (don't play like crap starters! effort needed!) -- tonight, they all came out with 110% effort.

    I will say that it is probably a little bit of both. Our effort level and defense stepped it up, but LAC really imploded. It was ridiculous watching them and how frustrated they got. The calls and stuff got into their heads.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    playoff caliber defense? your kidding right? the clippers were a tired team coming into this game after a hard fought loss to the spurs. they looked a step slow. it was a great win for us, but lets not blow it out of proportion. remember we rested in our blowout loss. I know harden wasn't playing and the players who were playing should get credit for taking up the slack, but if you saw playoff caliber defense you must have been watching another game.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    We played playoff caliber defense, we out muscled them, out hustled them, we fought hard for every rebound and loose ball, our rotations were practically mistake free. That was so awesome to watch after seeing so much of the opposite. If we play defense like this in the playoffs we candefinitelycause an upset.

    Offensively, I know we are better with Harden but I have to say I like how our offense flowed better tonight, we didn't dribble in one spot till there's only 5 seconds on the clock before passing to someone who's not even open expecting him to shoot. Instead we were trying to get a good shot with 20 seconds left on the clock, often passing up half-good looks to get an even better look, just beautiful unselfish ball movement. There was one play where I counted 8 quick passes before a wide open Garcia 3, it looked like we was playing a game of hot potato and the Clippers defense was running around like headless chooks trying to rotate.

  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago

    What a great feel-good win tonight!

    I can taste the Clipper's frustrations from here lol.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Greg Smith is actually a better option than T-Rob, he's significantly stronger and more productive. I'm happy with McHale's thinking process here.

  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago

    Option C. Greg Smith starting to better match up against Blake lol.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    McHale will probably let D-Mo do what he can without help until he gets into foul trouble as usual, then comes in Delfino whodefinitelyneeds help if we don't want Blake to score 50 points.

    Another option is to let T-Rob play with the starting unit, I'm guessing floor spacing is the reason McHale hasn't tried this.

    Otherwise this will probably be another night where the 2nd unit outplays the 1st unit.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago

    I agree wholeheartedly. I wish Coach Mchale would stop making the guards double team every big that gets the ball in the post.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Paul has not exactly been shooting the ball well lately, averaging a sub .300 percentage from long range in March

    Who wants to bet Paul has his best 3pt shooting game in March tonight?

    We will probably see Lin sag in to double Blake alot, and Cp3 will get wide open shots.

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