Miami Heat 113, Houston Rockets 104: Reliably unreliable.

The thing about this loss is that if it wasn’t for Dwight Howard stinking it up against OKC, or the Rockets doing whatever the hell they did against Chicago this last week, I would have shrugged my shoulders and went “Oh, well” at this defeat.  It would have been a 4-2 result against this last stretch of death, and with only 6 of Houston’s last 16 games against playoff teams, the Rockets could have fought for the third seed.  But instead, after losing to the Thunder and the Bulls, the Rockets led 102-98 with 4:26 left in today’s game against the Heat, and then in a scene which has played itself out in far too many games this season, the Rockets gave their opponent a nice, big 15-0 run which they would have to recover from…only this time there was no time left on the clock.

  • Losing to Lebron James is one thing.  Same with losing to Dwyane Wade, or Bosh.  All three of them are All-Stars and have been franchise players who know how to take over the game down the stretch.  But losing to 38 year old Ray Allen, who put up a season high 25 points and had 11 points in the last 6 minutes of the game?  Some of that may have been due to some questionable calls from the refs, but despite playing huge amounts of smallball over the season, the Rockets perimeter players in Harden, Lin, and Beverley seemed completely confused about who was guarding who in the final possessions of the game.  The worst was Miami’s first play after they called a timeout after falling down 102-98; LeBron took the ball in, dribbled five feet, and then fired a crosscourt pass to a completely wide open Ray Allen standing in the corner.  The champion Miami Heat executed plays like that down the stretch, while Houston seemed content to fire iso threes.  That was what ultimately decided things.
  • In general, I don’t like questioning the rotation decisions of coaches: far too often, I believe that such complaints are simple Monday-morning quarterbacking.  But I was somewhat surprised to see Kevin McHale run a smallball lineup against the Miami Heat in the final stretch, especially since Miami is the best smallball team in the league and Terrence Jones had played very well today.  In the third quarter, Parsons and Jones did an excellent job switching on Miami’s 3-4 rolls, and each did as well as one could expect at handling LeBron.  It’s impossible to know whether Houston’s normal lineup could have outbigged Miami down the stretch – but as noted above, today’s smallball lineup utterly failed to contain Miami’s perimeter shooting at the end anyways.
  • Tonight’s loss has one crucial result for those who are looking at the standings.  The Rockets are two and a half games behind the third seed red-hot Clippers without the tiebreaker advantage, and are four games ahead of the sixth seed Warriors with tiebreaker advantage.  Barring a miracle or collapse, the Houston Rockets will be in the 4-5 bracket, and will almost certainly face up against the Portland Trail Blazers.  There are worse fates; the Blazers have been a .500 team since January, and Houston would currently avoid facing the Thunder or Clippers in the second round.  Still, Houston will definitely want to secure homecourt advantage against the Blazers and their legendary Rose Garden – Portland may be relatively slumping, but if any team can get hot over 7 games, it’s them.

So, the good news?  It may have had a disappointing finish, but the hardest part of the season is over.  Time for the Rockets to kick back, relax, and – what’s that?  They play tomorrow night?  In Houston?

Well, so it goes.  Sure, it may be just against the lowly Utah Jazz – but while losing three in a row for the first time this season has been annoying, losing four would be an embarrassment.  Let’s hope for a strong game tomorrow.


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About the author: The son of transplants to Houston, Paul McGuire is now a transplant in Washington D.C. The Stockton shot is one of his earliest memories, which has undoubtedly contributed to his lack of belief in the goodness of man.

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Total comments: 12
  • Buckko says 2 YEARs ago

    As long as SA stays in 1st seed and we're in 4th, I'm happy.

  • BrentYen says 2 YEARs ago

    This has to be dunk of the year of something like that......very impressive.

  • thejohnnygold says 2 YEARs ago

    From last night's game....How awesome must that feel?!?! To drive past Lebron and dunk on Bosh with Birdman closing in.....yeah, I'm guessing that feels awesome.


  • dbd says 2 YEARs ago

    Our guards mostly did well with their assignments. The Allen's wide open layup was product of a dirty play. Lin was supposed to guard Allen but LeBron hold Lin and didn't get called. (ABC replayed that right after play.) Unfortunately, that was a critical play and changed the momentum.

  • PhillyCheese says 2 YEARs ago Hey, there were 5 Rockets in the game at that point. People give him grief for not taking shots, and he takes shots that don't fall, and still gets grief. How about Parsons playing 38 min and scoring 9 or Bev taking 14 shots, and Harden getting only 1 assist? Lin didn't have a good game but I was glad McHale kept him in the 4th. I would love to know which of the three guards failed their assignment at the end there.
  • SadLakerFan says 2 YEARs ago I didn't watch the game, but Lin's -22 sticks out like a sore thumb
  • thenit says 2 YEARs ago I think we are safe from the ninth spot. But a lot more concern of not getting home court and facing okc or clips. Worst matchup for us, any other match ups I actually have confidence in us advancing. So at this point I don't want to drop to 6 or 7th
  • Cooper says 2 YEARs ago

    offensive execution at the end of the game was dismal, However a road loss to miami isn't a big deal, its been a rough few games but schedule rest of the way is fairly easy and the four or five seed is not a bad spot at all.

  • MrLobble says 2 YEARs ago

    okay, i'll give ya that. Hopefully we can get back on track tomorrow. I've been terrified of a losing streak all season because of the tight race in the West. My biggest fear is having a 6 game skid and somehow finding ourselves in the 9th spot

  • thenit says 2 YEARs ago Stop with the conspiracy theory. Lin wasn't in there because of that. Mchale tried to match heats small ball line up. Lin didn't play well down the stretch but seriously putting it on one guy when the whole team didn't make a field goal in the last 5 minutes are just unfair. The whole team just played poorly.
  • MrLobble says 2 YEARs ago

    Earlier today, I was so pissed at the calls and the rotations that i was thinking it was the NBA's focus of revenue driving this game... I've talked to former NBA players that have told me a darker side to the league and how referees call certain calls (the leagues most marketable players have to be on the court at all times because fans don't pay top dollar watching 11th and 12th men battle in the paint)... With the odd adjustment to the rotation to Lin in the fourth quarter was making me wonder if there was a bigger power influencing his playing time (nationally televised game: largest figures in the global game Lebron & Lin); especially after the 2nd time getting beat back down and a terrible shot at the top of the key, i was speechless to see him left in the game. I suppose I'll never know, but man that was an odd fourth quarter

  • bernardo says 2 YEARs ago

    C'mon man. We can't throw out games like that. Our play through the rest of the game was actually good. I know we're talking about the Heat, but we threw this one away. Yes, some questionable calls made some difference, but our late game execution (on both sides) was awful. I mean, on offense, it was iso time once again, and the results were clear. That corner 3 by allen out of the timeout was pathetic. Unnaceptable for an NBA team. There was a huge soccer game here in Portugal, so I think I was the only one in here watching this game instead. I'm upset right now. Well, let's hope that the Spurs secure the #1 spot. I think we'll lose to them anyway in a playoff series, but that 3-0 regular season record has to account for something. At least, I hope so.

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