The Houston Rockets need to play defense.

Red94 has written about it.  Everyone who covers the Rockets has written about it. The underlying narrative for this season has been the collapse of the Houston Rockets’ defense, epitomized by James Harden.

It was not like that tonight. The Rockets and Harden played defense. But on the second game of a back to back, J.B. Bickerstaff decided to borrow from the Mike Brown offensive playbook and just dump the ball to James Harden over and over again down the stretch. The same James Harden who has a bum ankle and played 40 minutes last night.

It did not work. The balanced attack which the Rockets used to grab an 18-point lead over Utah in the first half faded away in favor of “Harden, do something.” And with that, the exhausted Houston Rockets and their offense came to a sputtering halt, and the Utah Jazz seized a critical win and punted the Rockets into the lottery.

14th pick, here it comes. Technically it would be the 12th pick given the better Eastern Conference, but whatever.

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in game coverage

They say the close losses hurt the most. Games you could have, should have won sting the most going into the locker room, when you have to look at your teammates, look at the standings, look at that one mistake you shouldn’t have made on tape. That’s the sort of loss the Houston Rockets felt tonight, losing a tight game to a very good Oklahoma City Thunder team. The bad news is that this one will stay with them. The good news is that this one will stay with them. This was a brutal, close loss, and we should all be thankful for it. If they’re going to lose, this is the way to do it.

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in game coverage

Michael-Beasley
  • Understandably, people here are excited, at least those who are left.  My Twitter followers and readers here want to know if Michael Beasley has finally turned the corner, cashing in on the potential that made him the #2 overall pick in a draft class where he was deemed the consensus top  talent for much of the year, prior to a March push by Derrick Rose.  They want to know if he can be a long term fit.  People on the outside, reading all of this, are laughing.  A bad player going to a bad team, chucking up a bunch of bad shots, and getting hot for a stretch, they’re thinking – nothing has changed.  But ours is a natural human reaction.  Exceptionalism lends to the belief that our situation is unique, that something within Beasley has changed, or something about the Rockets has aided the transformation.  We want desperately to believe that we’ve struck gold in acquiring, for the mere minimum, a player who was once considered one of the most dominant freshman scorers of his era.  What else do we have?  This team is going nowhere and hasn’t given those of us watching much to cheer about.  Thus, the mind wanders towards the future and the construction of a new team.  What do we need, what parts do we already have?

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in essays

With Michael Beasley playing like this, it is a shame that the Houston Rockets did not get him sooner.

As I noted earlier, I do expect Beasley to fall off from how he is currently playing and start missing those mid-range jumpers. But tonight, he absolutely carried the Rockets in the 4th quarter, scoring every point for Houston in relevant playing time. And while he did take and make a lot of long 2’s, he also made some great moves inside, such as a play in the 4th quarter where he spun out of a double team for an easy layup.

But as great as Beasley was on the offensive end, there were moments on the defensive end where it was clear that he did not know what he was doing. You could see him speaking with Dwight Howard on the defensive end during dead ball moments about where to go, and Beasley is too small to easily guard Al Horford or Paul Millsap. If Beasley had been with the Rockets from the start, he would have more time to learn where to go when playing defense.

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in game coverage

I love Michael Beasley.  I also just got back from vacation in Southern California.  But I can’t wait to watch the Rockets game tonight to watch Michael Beasley.  Normally, this year, I probably wouldn’t have cared.  During the trip, I found myself checking [League Pass broadband on] my phone to see when Michael Beasley was in the game.  My wife didn’t appreciate this.  Sometimes I made her watch also.  Michael Beasley and Brock Osweiler are two names she wishes she was not familiar with.  If Michael Beasley was not in the game, I would put away my phone.  If he was, I would wait to see the magic happen.  The big jab step out of the triple threat.  The soft, acrobatic left handed finishes.  The glorious mid-range jumpshots that defy mathematical rationality but find their way into the bottom of the net, diversifying an oversimplified attack.  Michael Beasley is the ghost of Hasheem Thabeet and Jonny Flynn (and also maybe Terrence Williams, except he was kind of good but had a terrible attitude while the other two were the worst basketball players I’ve ever seen); the realization and embodiment of the hope and potential of the #2 pick.  Michael Beasley is the savior.  Michael Beasley is Josh Smith reincarnated.  Michael Beasley will lead the Rockets to a record of 42-40, one game above the dubious distinction of .500.  Michael Beasley will lure Kevin Durant to Houston, forming the newest Big 3.  And now I will go unpack before the game.






in musings

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