Memphis Grizzlies @ Houston Rockets on 4/12/2013

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Total comments: 46
  • tombrokeoff says 1 YEAR ago

    a buddy of mine was given some tickets to this early friday and i was lucky enough to be the friend who he asked to accompany him. anyway, ultimately it sucked to lose this game, but the seats were awesome and the highlight of the night for me was getting to meet Kevin Willis who was out and about in the crowd near the section I was in. Anyone else at the game get to see him?

    BHsvZtWCUAAjzjs.jpg

  • thenit says 1 YEAR ago

    Agree with you there, with time I am confident he will be able to do what Paul does by controlling the pace of the game, maybe not master it like Paul.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    His BBall IQ and his emotions are his biggest assets. He will figure it out. Remember when we said he looked awful on 3s, look at him now. This off season I think he will work on different tempos, left hand finish and continue to work on his jumpers.

    I agree with Phake that I rather have Lin being aggressive, because when he is even with 1-2 more turnovers the net gain is larger than the turnovers it creates. It also seems to get him to the FT line and better rhytm. Because when he is passive like in the first 2 months he looked lost and didn't look like he belonged.

    don't get me wrong....I want the aggressive lin too, but aggression is no good if not channeled properly. I agree lin does have smarts and tools to be good.......but if you have a good hammer and you don't know how to use it you won't get many nails driven. how to use it is just as important as having it.

  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago

    when to be aggressive and when to set up smarts(aka bball IQ) is more important than unchecked aggression. sure I like the aggressive version of lin, but learning when to turn it on and off is what's better for the team. this can be the difference between winning and loosing.

    Yes, knowing when to do which is critical, and I hope Lin develops that. What I was saying was that, en route to developing that skill (but without having mastered it yet), I would rather Lin be aggressive than tentative.

  • thenit says 1 YEAR ago

    when to be aggressive and when to set up smarts(aka bball IQ) is more important than unchecked aggression. sure I like the aggressive version of lin, but learning when to turn it on and off is what's better for the team. this can be the difference between winning and loosing.

    His BBall IQ and his emotions are his biggest assets. He will figure it out. Remember when we said he looked awful on 3s, look at him now. This off season I think he will work on different tempos, left hand finish and continue to work on his jumpers.

    I agree with Phake that I rather have Lin being aggressive, because when he is even with 1-2 more turnovers the net gain is larger than the turnovers it creates. It also seems to get him to the FT line and better rhytm. Because when he is passive like in the first 2 months he looked lost and didn't look like he belonged.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    Fine line since we always said Lin had to be more aggressive. He's being more aggressive now, and for the most part, it has worked! Yes, he should know when to be aggressive and when to set up, but I mean, one step at a time. I'd rather he be aggressive than the tentative version of himself earlier this season.

    when to be aggressive and when to set up smarts(aka bball IQ) is more important than unchecked aggression. sure I like the aggressive version of lin, but learning when to turn it on and off is what's better for the team. this can be the difference between winning and loosing.

  • thenit says 1 YEAR ago

    Just a take on Harden, I think he will figure it out next season, its too hard to make an big adjustment at the end of the season.

    What concerns me is that Harden will always be able to draw fouls, seeking contact, but that is not optimal for the playoffs where the referees will more often than not allow the contact.

    I have been watching Harden's numbers throughout the year and posted a couple of times before regarding his efficiency (outside of free throws). It concerns me a bit, but for now I am willing to let it go as this is his first year being "the man". He needs to work out this mess over the Summer, stop relying on the whistles, and play as if he isn't going to get the foul. I have said it before, referees will give you the benefit of the doubt if you prove that you will make the shot most of the time; however, when you prove to be an inconsistent scorer that is just looking for a bailout, that whistle goes away. Here are Harden's stats from this season and given the time of year (playoff time) and his performance up to date it isn't surprising that the whistles have become less frequent.

    Worst point/efficiency output by Harden 2013

    11/7 DEN 15pts on 33%fg (5-7 ft)
    11/9 MEM 18pts on 22%fg (9-10 ft)
    11/19 UT 6 pts on 17%fg (3-3 ft)
    11/28 OK 17pts on 19%fg (9-11 ft)
    12/4 LAL 15pts on 16%fg (9-11 ft)
    1/16 DAL 20pts on 22%fg (9-12 ft)
    1/18 IND 17pts on 26%fg (4-5 ft)
    1/19 MIN 18pts on 28%fg (8-10 ft)
    3/8 GSW 20pts on 18%fg (11-14 ft)
    3/29 MEM 7pts on 33%fg (0-0 ft) (26 mins)
    4/5 DEN 14pts on 20%fg (10-10 ft)

    Total # Games w/ sub 40%fg: 28

    Total # Games w/ sub 30%fg: 13

    Total # Games w/ sub 20%fg: 4

    The 28 games of sub 40% is what concerns me. That is 37% of the total # of games that he is shooting badly. As has been mentioned, given that his defense is bad in roughly 100% of the games he is putting quite a burden on the team. Add to this his 3/2 assist to turnover ratio (roughly 6 assists to 4 to's) and it paints a very interesting picture.

    The only reason his averages work out so well is that the pendulum swings equally far in the other direction--he has many games with excellent offensive numbers. He might have to take over Bill Simmons' nickname for Tony Allen....back when he played for Boston, Simmons dubbed him Tony "Trick or Treat" Allen for his wildly inconsistent play on offense. You just never knew who was going to show up....I feel this way about Harden. I am optimistic, although cautiously concerned, that he will get it together over the Summer. For now, we live with the reality that roughly 4 out of 10 games Harden is going to stink it up. More consistency is paramount to his, and the Rockets', future success.

    I agree with this he lives and dies with the FT's and he is either hot or cold. He is still young so consistency should improve each year.

  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago

    Fine line since we always said Lin had to be more aggressive. He's being more aggressive now, and for the most part, it has worked! Yes, he should know when to be aggressive and when to set up, but I mean, one step at a time. I'd rather he be aggressive than the tentative version of himself earlier this season.

  • idiotfan says 1 YEAR ago

    Harden played his best defensive game of the year. No question. He was active and involved defensively especially late in the game when he had fouls to spare, he was aggressive and effective. Part of the reason why he was so gassed was bc he gave a helluvan effort on defense. Beverley definitely has a defensive presence. It's interesting how McHale used Harden/Beverley/Lin in a small lineup down the stretch. This left Harden playing a small forward position and he was effective on defense.

    You gotta love Terrence Jones. Big and physical, a good player to have for the playoffs but still needs some growing to do (just a rookie after all)

    Montejunas is just not ready for the playoffs. To slow and weak defensively, and hasn't been hitting open shots in the last few games.

    Having Lin in the game for 45 minutes wasn't a bad idea. He seemed to be able to handle the minutes, taking breaks on a lot of the offensive possessions. Lin had several turnovers, or bad shots where he pushed the ball down the court, and even though there were defenders, he still tried to cram it in there. He needs to learn to pull up and reset on those fast breaks that are well defended.
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    while the ref's clearly needed glasses......we had our chance to win. the mark of good teams is overcoming the ref's and still getting the job done. we are still trying to figure that part out as a team. I expect as we gain this playoff experience, this will be one of our biggest gains....how to overcome the moments in a game when sh^t happens

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago Yep, in the post-game interview McHale didn't seem happy about it. He obviously wasn't even happy about it during the game, but in the post-game interview when asked if he could comment on the refs he quickly said "no" in a very stone cold manner. And like I said earlier, I have NEVER seen Harden that mad at refs before, Lin was trying to hold Harden back and Harden was knocking Lins arms away and pushing him trying to get past him.
  • idiotfan says 1 YEAR ago

    Let's get some other things straight about the Memphis game. The refs were calling a physical game, but they made several big calls that clearly affected the game. One was Harden's steal that they called out of bounds. RIDICULOUS!! The other one was where Lin was driving in the 4th quarter and Conley mugged him, specifically tie-ing him up with his arm...all the players stopped for a second thinking a foul would be called... NOPE... instead of a foul on Memphis, the call resulted in a foul on Lin, and a change of possession. That was big. And another one was where Lin comes down the court and was going to handoff the ball to Harden (he should have aborted the attempt) but a Memphis player comes in between and Lin gets called for a moving screen. RIDICULOUS!!!!! How can you set a moving screen when 1. you have the ball 2. you picked up your dribble and your'e stuck. These refs, I heard on the commentary are playoff refs(they will take part of the playoffs), but they really STUNK UP the place.
  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago

    Oh yeah I've seen a lot articles that have mentioned how Lin is actually a very clutch player, and he tends to warm up in the 4th or as the game goes on. He thrives on big moments, setting aside the airball 3 pointer vs. the Heat :P

    This would seem to make sense. His entire game thrives off of emotion.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    I bet Morey's got binders on the refs.

    Agree that Harden is reluctant to adjust--something I imagine they will work on this Summer.

  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago

    He should also look at who the refs are for that evening. Pretty easy to find info on which ones tend to abuse their whistles, and which tend to swallow them. I even saw it on some article a few weeks back.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Itseems like the refs are punishing him for being so good at getting the contact sometimes. Maybe Harden should go to the floater more when the refs aren't calling the hits, or just stopping and pulling up from 8 feet.

  • thejohnnygold says 1 YEAR ago

    I have been watching Harden's numbers throughout the year and posted a couple of times before regarding his efficiency (outside of free throws). It concerns me a bit, but for now I am willing to let it go as this is his first year being "the man". He needs to work out this mess over the Summer, stop relying on the whistles, and play as if he isn't going to get the foul. I have said it before, referees will give you the benefit of the doubt if you prove that you will make the shot most of the time; however, when you prove to be an inconsistent scorer that is just looking for a bailout, that whistle goes away. Here are Harden's stats from this season and given the time of year (playoff time) and his performance up to date it isn't surprising that the whistles have become less frequent.

    Worst point/efficiency output by Harden 2013

    11/7 DEN 15pts on 33%fg (5-7 ft)
    11/9 MEM 18pts on 22%fg (9-10 ft)
    11/19 UT 6 pts on 17%fg (3-3 ft)
    11/28 OK 17pts on 19%fg (9-11 ft)
    12/4 LAL 15pts on 16%fg (9-11 ft)
    1/16 DAL 20pts on 22%fg (9-12 ft)
    1/18 IND 17pts on 26%fg (4-5 ft)
    1/19 MIN 18pts on 28%fg (8-10 ft)
    3/8 GSW 20pts on 18%fg (11-14 ft)
    3/29 MEM 7pts on 33%fg (0-0 ft) (26 mins)
    4/5 DEN 14pts on 20%fg (10-10 ft)

    Total # Games w/ sub 40%fg: 28

    Total # Games w/ sub 30%fg: 13

    Total # Games w/ sub 20%fg: 4

    The 28 games of sub 40% is what concerns me. That is 37% of the total # of games that he is shooting badly. As has been mentioned, given that his defense is bad in roughly 100% of the games he is putting quite a burden on the team. Add to this his 3/2 assist to turnover ratio (roughly 6 assists to 4 to's) and it paints a very interesting picture.

    The only reason his averages work out so well is that the pendulum swings equally far in the other direction--he has many games with excellent offensive numbers. He might have to take over Bill Simmons' nickname for Tony Allen....back when he played for Boston, Simmons dubbed him Tony "Trick or Treat" Allen for his wildly inconsistent play on offense. You just never knew who was going to show up....I feel this way about Harden. I am optimistic, although cautiously concerned, that he will get it together over the Summer. For now, we live with the reality that roughly 4 out of 10 games Harden is going to stink it up. More consistency is paramount to his, and the Rockets', future success.

  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago

    Oh yeah I've seen a lot articles that have mentioned how Lin is actually a very clutch player, and he tends to warm up in the 4th or as the game goes on. He thrives on big moments, setting aside the airball 3 pointer vs. the Heat :P

  • thenit says 1 YEAR ago

    Found an interesting stat on the last 2 minutes of the game.

    Harden Clutch time effective:

    Harden: 25.7% FG%. 18.2% 3FG% harden is 9 for 35

    Lin: 77.8% FG%. 75% 3FG% Lin is 7 for 9 .

    http://stats.nba.com/leaguePlayerClutch.html?ClutchTime=Last%202%20Minutes&sortField=FG_PCT&sortOrder=DES&rowsPerPage=100&pageNo=1

  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago

    Agreed. I am hoping for one of two things from McHale and the team. Either:

    A) Use other players as options because it is getting predictable. If Harden is cold on shooting for most of the night, and someone else is landing shots, why not draw up a play that throws the defense off? Have Harden drive and kick it out to an open shooter who is expecting it at least?

    OR

    B) Use Harden toalways take the final shot, but then draw up some play that is a bit more than give ball to Harden, iso, work his magic. Again, for me, the PHX game ender was even worse. Imagine if Jermaine did not do an unbelievably dumb mistake and we then lost in OT. Would we have clinched a playoff spot by now? hahaha pressure on w/ only 3 games left...

    Lin and Co. have said many times that in the last team huddle, they just say, give the ball to Harden! And that's it (usually in winning game post-interviews). I always assumed he was joking, or half joking. Now I am not so sure...lol.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I have mixed feelings about that play. Harden is one of the best hero ball guys in the league, even better than Kobe and Joe Johnson according to Synergy Sports. Not to mention he got a really wide open shot, that shot would normally go in 8 times out of 10, Harden just got unlucky. For a second there I thought "hey Harden's doing what Jordan did in the 1998 finals!" and then he missed :(

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    I will give McHale a little flack on the last few minutes of the game. Too much Harden hero-ball. You have time outs to avoid that obvious scenario. Same thing happened for PHX. That last play was atrocious. Jermaine O'Neal bailed us out hard...

    I think everyone on here knows Harden's obvious weakness. His defense is terribad, and definitely something he needs to work on. He often seems disinterested. One thing SDrake is right about though is we on red94 don't tend to talk about Harden TOs that much. His shooting percentage is very bad too...I forget who put it this way, but I think this was the best way of looking at it: KD or whoever looks to make the shot and then try to draw the foul; Harden looks to draw the foul and then try to make the shot. I see that quite often from him now...and so if refs swallow the whistle, it really hurts us. I think he needs to get back to trying to focus more on making good shots than hoping the whistle bails him out (rightly or wrongly).

    I agree to much hero-ball.......the goal should be to get the team a good shot......not harden exclusively

  • thenit says 1 YEAR ago

    In last two games, Lin brought back games to tie. In PHX game, his two pt shots and 2 FT tied the game. In game with Grizz, his 3pt, a great assist, and another 3pt made the tie. So he might have what is take to do in last play.

    I am not advocating to use Lin for a final play. But I think Harden, Lin, (even Parsons) should be used as options. Let them take the last shot whoever had an open shot (better drive).

    I agree. especially when Harden had a really poor shooting night and hasn't made a field goal in 4th. Harden should be the nr 1, 2 and 3 choice, but sometimes you should use Lin or Parsons or pass it to one of our many 3 p shooters for an open look. Because most team would double Harden there. I prefer him driving to the basket than taking a 3 or long 2.

  • Richards says 1 YEAR ago

    In last two games, Lin brought back games to tie. In PHX game, his two pt shots and 2 FT tied the game. In game with Grizz, his 3pt, a great assist, and another 3pt made the tie. So he might have what is take to do in last play.

    I am not advocating to use Lin for a final play. But I think Harden, Lin, (even Parsons) should be used as options. Let them take the last shot whoever had an open shot (better drive).

  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago

    I will give McHale a little flack on the last few minutes of the game. Too much Harden hero-ball. You have time outs to avoid that obvious scenario. Same thing happened for PHX. That last play was atrocious. Jermaine O'Neal bailed us out hard...

    I think everyone on here knows Harden's obvious weakness. His defense is terribad, and definitely something he needs to work on. He often seems disinterested. One thing SDrake is right about though is we on red94 don't tend to talk about Harden TOs that much. His shooting percentage is very bad too...I forget who put it this way, but I think this was the best way of looking at it: KD or whoever looks to make the shot and then try to draw the foul; Harden looks to draw the foul and then try to make the shot. I see that quite often from him now...and so if refs swallow the whistle, it really hurts us. I think he needs to get back to trying to focus more on making good shots than hoping the whistle bails him out (rightly or wrongly).

  • Richards says 1 YEAR ago

    McHale must find better play when we are down in 91-92 situation. Harden's shooting % is not very good. He can't do what Kobe, Melo, and Lebron do. Harden's bread and butter is drive and layup/draw-foul. I am not blaming for using Harden. He is the best player on the team and sound decision to use him. But we need a better plan though.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Yep, I thought it was a moral victory too. We played great defense, we were extremely tough and gritty in the second half where Memphis scored only 33 points. We just need to learn how to come out in the 1st half the same way, be the ones to push first instead of waiting to be pushed then push back. Nice guys finish last.

  • thenit says 1 YEAR ago

    I'm not sure why most people here didn't notice that Lin also played the whole 2nd half. He looked gassed on those possesions when he turned the ball over in fastbreaks. He did make those 3s though. I don't really disagree with the decision by Mchale on most of the calls tonight,

    I just hoped that we wouldn't have to use all those minutes on our backcourt with playoffs looming. We see what could happen with Kobe, could happen to us, but we are not fighting for a playoff spot.

    The only other thing I would criticize is that we didn't go 2 for 1 with 33 seconds to go trying to get a shot off in 3-5 sec on the inbound, so we didn't need to foul, luckily the Grizzs missed the FTs so we had another shot at it. Harden had an open 2 on the last possesion sometimes they fall and sometimes they won't.

    Its a morale victory that our defence was great in the 2nd half and that we will need that in the playoffs.

  • SDrake says 1 YEAR ago

    Ok, rant coming up... Quit making excuses for Harden. 4 opportunities to tie the game in the final minute and McHale/Harden decided to play "hero-ball" with Harden doing the isolation thing and trying to play alone. That has always been the least productive play all season. Harden isn't the only player on the team. Run an offense. Do some passing and find a good shot rather than relying on Harden to make something happen with a forced shot. It's a team game, not Harden's game. Why abandon playing as a team?

    Harden top 10 player? Why does Harden's liability to the team get completely overlooked? The guy has an incredible presence on the floor and has shown he can be a dominant offensive player, but his liabilities to the team get totally ignored...

    1. His turnovers kill the team. So he scored 30 points tonight, but how many of those points did he give right back with his 8 turnovers? He had 9 turnovers against the Suns and that's probably why the game was much closer. He's leading the NBA in turnovers by a significant amount. Lin has the reputation for turnovers, but Harden has far more and no one talks about it. This needs to be addressed by the team.

    2. His shooting percentage isn't great and it's been getting worse as he's been over-worked. In March he shot FG at 38.9% and in April 37.9%. All those additional missed shots are like turnovers and giving points back to the other team.

    3. Harden doesn't play defense most of the time. He's giving points right back to the other team.

    Not to completely diss on Harden. He can be an absolutely dominant player and can carry the team, but he's still a young player and these liabilities need to be addressed in his play.
  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    I'm not usually one to blame the refs on a loss, but I felt that they were absolutely horrible down the stretch and Harden in particular got robbed of a few calls. There was that charge on Bayless where Bayless was never set and awkwardly falling down before Harden even touched him, and another occasion where Randolph clearly hit him on the arm during a lay-up attempt. I thought Harden was just as good in that 4th quarter as he was in the first half when he was full of energy and only scored 10 points, he simply missed a few 3's (can't make them all right?) and the refs missed a few calls. That was the first time I have ever seen him that mad at the refs, but I wasn't surprised because he had every right to be that mad.

  • Red94 says 1 YEAR ago New post: A closer look at Grizzlies @ Rockets
    By: rahat huq

    Popcornmachine.net is a site I like to use to sometimes get a better understanding of what took place within a game.  It provides a look at each player's production during each of his stints on the court.

    Here is the flowchart for tonight's affair against Memphis.

    Looking at James Harden specifically, he started out 1-5 from the floor during his first stint.  In his third stint (during the third quarter), he went 4-6, almost singlehandedly bringing the team back into the game.

    Instead of getting his usual rest, Harden stayed in the game for the entirety of the fourth.  In that fourth quarter, Harden's fourth and final stint, he went 0-7 from the floor with 2 turnovers.  (He did get 4 free throws and 2 assists.)

    The Beard was clearly gassed.  He carried the team offensively and even put in some work on the other end.  He just didn't have enough to bring home the win.

    I support the decision to keep him in the game.  Even though it didn't work out, had McHale sat Harden, it looked like the game would have slipped away.

    I just feel that in moments like that, and have felt all season, when Harden is tired and becoming ineffective, the Rockets should give Jeremy Lin some more of the load.  In Lin's final stint, he went 2-4 from the field.  (Lin had 4 turnovers, the majority of which came on fastbreak possessions.)

    In the playoffs, teams will key in even more on Harden and as great as he's been, he's human.  Fatigue will set in.  When he's slowing down, it would be wise to give other players a chance to initiate the offense.
  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago

    Lin's defense tonight was great too,there was one sequence wherehe shut down Prince in the post and on the next possession forced a shot clock violation on Conley.

    Another triumph for Jeremy Lin, post defense king! :D

    ST

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Lin's defense tonight was great too,there was one sequence wherehe shut down Prince in the post and on the next possession forced a shot clock violation on Conley.

  • Red94 says 1 YEAR ago New post: Memphis Grizzlies 82, Houston Rockets 78 - Not long til playoff time
    By: Rob Dover

    Tonight's was a measuring stick game. While it is unlikely that the Rockets will face off against the Grizzlies in the playoffs (though still not beyond the realms of possibility, it would be helped by both teams winning tonight's game, which of course cannot happen), due to their style of play a game against Memphis is probably the closest you're going to get to the canonical 'playoff style' basketball during the regular season. They are aggressive on defense and have a tendency to construct slow, methodical possessions in the half court set at the other end. Much of the Rockets' success come playoff time will hinge on their ability to break the shackles of the slow pace their opponents will play and inject some speed into the proceedings, so this made for a good trial run. Everything about the game, from the crowd to the refs to the intensity of the players themselves, made it feel like a playoff encounter, and while in the end the Rockets fell short it was nice taster of what's to come.

    The first quarter began with some ominously cold shooting from the Rockets. The Grizzlies were making it hard for them to get the easy shots to which they are accustomed, and when they did Harden and co. struggled to put them in the basket (Harden in particular blew several layups you would normally expect him to make). Memphis weren't shooting well either, but they were getting on the offensive boards. Randolph was fighting for inside position very hard with Smith, and while for the most part Smith did a good job of keeping him quiet, he eventually did pick up two fouls in doing so and had to sit.  It was a difficult task, but Smith really needed to keep himself on the court. As soon as he went to the bench, the Memphis bigs smelt blood and suddenly all of the possessions were going through Randolph and Gasol. Terrence Jones really couldn't keep Randolph quiet - he was fortunate that there wasn't long left in the quarter for him to be tormented.

    The second quarter was more of the same offensively. Motiejunas came in and looked unconfident. His form was off and his shots weren't falling. As well as Smith and Asik have played together in the past few games, it means you have to play D-Mo and Jones together for significant minutes, and when Motiejunas is in a funk it really doesn't look good. D-Mo didn't see any more time for the rest of the game, but time is running out to get him back in a groove for playoff time. Harden sat for a few minutes and without him offense was hard to come by. The one bright spot was that despite  never quite looking right when given the ball on offense, Jones was doing a great job on the boards at both ends. His work prevented the gap from ballooning too far at the start of the quarter.

    But there's only so much you can do when you can't make a shot. The starters came back and it didn't get much better - over the course of the half the Rockets only made 11 field goals, for a shooting percentage of 29.7%. They made a couple of threes late on to cut the deficit to 13, but frankly that was flattering. Harden was missing layups he would normally make and committing some bad turnovers too - he reached the midpoint with 12 points on 3-11 shooting to go with 4 TOs. When he's not playing well with the ball in his hands, it's really tough to justify his poor defense at the other end. It also didn't help that Asik was having a terrible half. He wasn't dominating the boards like he normally does and had a bit of foul trouble, but the main issue was that he could not finish around the basket. It is vital the way that the Rockets' offense is constructed that the team can rely on a big man to finish, and without that the two big lineups look awfully stagnant.

    In the third quarter, we saw Harden starting to look for the outside shot a bit more. He was able to get to his spot on the left wing where he is so deadly and knock down a few three pointers, which seemed to stimulate the Rockets' offense. Lin was also finding some joy by relentlessly driving into the paint. Grizzlies were fouling a lot and also went through a cold streak of their own, and in combination it allowed the team to cut the lead to 5. After playing so poorly in the first half, it was a great achievement to get back into the game.



    The Rockets started the fourth on a roll. Terrence Jones continued to play well off the ball. He was cleaning up the boards with aplomb (including one very nice putback jam), and shook off some of his shooting reticence to knock down a three pointer. On the back of his hustle the team was able to bring it back to level at 64 all before we were treated to the rare sight of Harden getting genuinely angry. There had been a couple of calls that hadn't gone his way, and eventually he was pushed over the edge and earned a technical, having to be held back by Lin and trainer Keith Jones. Interestingly, that anger drove him to actually play some good defense on a few straight possessions. With Harden, I really feel like the only thing stopping him from being at least an average defender is his mindset - when he's motivated, he's very capable. It didn't take long though for that fire to subside and his old habits to take over again.



    Perhaps that momentary defensive exertion took it out of him, because as the final quarter wore on Harden started to look tired. It was somewhat understandable because ended up playing the entirety of the second half, but you could see him slowing down possessions when the ball ended up in his hands.  This coincided with the Grizzlies turning up their defense and the refs swallowing their whistles. The fast hands of Allen and Conley generated some fast break points and suddenly the lead had ballooned to 8 points. Fortunately, Jeremy Lin was able to step into the void - a couple of clutch threes and a pretty no-look feed to Asik and they were right back in the game as we entered crunch time.

    With 33 seconds left in the game, the Rockets were down 80-78 with possession. Harden received the ball at the top of the arc, but the Grizzlies were able to shut off his driving options. Eventually he put up a three and missed. On the long rebound, the Grizzlies got a run out but some desperate defense by Lin and Jones forced Tony Allen into a tough reverse layup, which he missed. In the ensuing scramble for the rebound Allen was fouled, but proceeded to miss both free throws and suddenly Houston had a chance to take the final shot for a win or tie. Once again, Harden was iso'ed against Allen, and this time he pulled up from just inside the three point line. With tired legs beneath him, he missed the shot and with that the Grizzlies walked out of the building with the win.

    Random Observations:



    • The Rockets really missed Parsons tonight. With Delfino only just back from a bad bout of flu and Garcia a non-factor, they were really lacking an additional option from the perimeter to space the floor and create secondary penetration off kick outs. Parsons' skills would have added the third option the team desperately needed against the suffocating Grizzlies defense.

    • One interesting wrinkle I noticed was that defensively McHale had Harden defending Prince and Garcia on Allen. This was the opposite to what I expected - I figured with Allen being the least threatening Memphis starter offensively it would make sense to hide Harden there. But if there's one thing worse than Harden's man defense, it's his positioning when he's the help defender. There were some possessions in the third quarter where Harden was defending Allen, and they did not end well. First Allen crossed Harden over and drove to the basket (where he had a BIG collision with Smith) and then he was able to lose Harden completely to get wide open under the basket. Harden's defensive inattention is best hidden against players who are not a threat to drive, so I think the right call was made here.

    • While I can understand why McHale left Harden in the game for the whole second half (the team looked totally unable to find a shot in the few minutes when he sat in the second quarter), he really does need to find a way to ration the Beard's minutes a bit. If you're going to rely on Harden isos to end the game, he needs to have enough gas left in the tank to generate good shots, and it didn't feel like that was there tonight.

    • Terrence Jones needs to learn how and when to pass. At the moment whenever he receives the ball it completely breaks the flow of the offense. He seems to have two modes: either he holds the ball for a split second longer than he needs to before passing back to a guard, or he goes into an expansive dribble move with multiple crossovers that goes nowhere, before eventually either forcing up an awkward shot or passing out again having wasted 10 seconds of the shot clock. One senses that he has yet to completely adjust to the shorter NBA shot-clock and the time pressures it exerts on an offense.

    • Greg Smith did a good job when asked to guard Randolph, but for a couple of possessions in the second half he was asked to guard Marc Gasol and got schooled. On the first possession, Smith got into a low stance to prepare for a post up. Gasol took one look at him, stood up straight, and tossed in what amounted to an open 10 footer - Smith was so low that he had nothing in Gasol's eyeline! On the next possession, Smith tried to body up Gasol, who responded with a quick move to the basket drawing the foul. Smith wasn't left on Gasol again for the rest of the game. I think this short sequence illustrated one of the issues that's going to arise when playing Smith at the 4 - while he does a great job against bangers, opposing players with a modicum of finesse can make him look a bit silly. He's liable to encounter a few more of those when playing the power forward spot than he would have done at centre.

    • Looking back, the growth we've seen over the course of the season from Jeremy Lin has been amazing. Back in pre-season and in the early games, he looked wild on the drives and couldn't hit a shot from the outside to save his life. He has gradually tightened things up over the course of the season and now looks like a completely different player. He's developed an excellent ability to change from a full-on drive to a dead stop in an instant that gets him a lot of short jumpers in the lane (which he has started making), and he no longer looks out of control if he does take it all the way to the hole. The outside shooting has come a long way too - without his late three pointers in tonights game the Rockets would have been nowhere near close enough to create the crunch-time situation, and generally it seems like a much safer option than it used to for him to play the role of set shooter from Harden's drives.


  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago

    Exactly. What did you think I thought the reason was?

    Probably the same thing. Or that a DEN matchup was more risk, more reward.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Exactly. What did you think I thought the reason was?

  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago

    Yeah but right now everyone in that locker room isn't talking about how badly they want to beat OKC, they're talking about how badly they want to beat the Nuggets. You could say they're more mentally and emotionally prepared for Denver.

    Sure, but that could be because they know they're more likely to face DEN than OKC. And got swept in the season by DEN.

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    Ultimate high risk, high reward scenario haha. Well, I guess greater risk, greater reward is to play OKC :P

    Yeah but right now everyone in that locker room isn't talking about how badly they want to beat OKC, they're talking about how badly they want to beat the Nuggets. You could say they're more mentally and emotionally prepared/psyched for Denver.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    @phaketrash

    playing Denver ......even if we get thumped helps us imo. sure it's gonna hurt at first, but that's when you find out what we are made of. if one series lost drops our confidence then we had no business being here in the first place. playoffs are earned...nothing can take that away. we are young ....chances we get out of the first round 15% imo. no matter who we play. while the spurs won't last many more years as presently constructed the nuggets are here to stay for awhile. best we man up right now and face and embrace the challenge.

  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago

    True, a few extra games of playoff experience could be huge. But at the same time I think getting whooped by Denver is something our guys never got over, and I think that our guys want to beat them so bad that those strong emotions could make us play at a higher level than we would against San Antonio.

    Ultimate high risk, high reward scenario haha. Well, I guess greater risk, greater reward is to play OKC :P

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    True, a few extra games of playoff experience could be huge. But at the same time I think getting whooped by Denver is something our guys never got over, and I think that our guys want to beat them so bad that those strong emotions could make us play at a higher level than we would against San Antonio.

  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago

    I agree..........playing the one team that has spanked us each time this season is the best way to learn what is necessary to battle this time of year

    True, but I feel they can learn just as much playing against the Spurs, while having a better chance of moving on. You never want to be stomped so hard you don't even know what lesson to take away from it! If we get swept by DEN, I think it hurts our team confidence more than anything we learn from it. Playing SAS, we can steal a few games AT LEAST, and they are seen as a championship caliber team, so we can build confidence, learn, and have a better chance of moving on.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    After listening to the things McHale said and and a podcast that talked about how our guys see the Nuggets as a challenge and want to face that challenge, I'm actually hoping we win this game. Even if it seems stupid to want to face our kryptonite, you gotta admire the mind-set of our team.

    I agree..........playing the one team that has spanked us each time this season is the best way to learn what is necessary to battle this time of year

  • 2016Champions says 1 YEAR ago

    After listening to the things McHale said and and a podcast that talked about how our guys see the Nuggets as a challenge and want to face that challenge, I'm actually hoping we win this game. Even if it seems stupid to want to face our kryptonite, you gotta admire the mind-set of our team.

  • phaketrash says 1 YEAR ago

    Hope we win, though I have mixed feelings. We win, we all but secure a matchup against DEN, which I want to aviod. If we lose, we lose and that sucks, but an ailing SAS is probably better for us to play than DEN -- OKC is half a game ahead of SAS, and has a much easier schedule remaining compared to the Spurs'...so I expect Spurs to finish 2nd in the conference. If it were OKC vs. DEN for us to choose, then I choose DEN haha (although as I have stated many times, playing OKC would be hecka fun to watch!).

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago Whoever controls the tempo wins the game.