Final Bench Data

The Rockets finished the regular season using their bench 35% of the time, which ranked 4th from last place. The Rockets bench had a net rating of 2.1, which ranked 11th in the league. Click on the graphic below for a complete visual representation of the league’s bench usage and effectiveness.

Click for a full-sized interactive version

Click for a full-sized interactive version

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in columns

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The Houston Rockets have won their first division title in twenty years. The Houston Rockets won 56 games and clinched the 2-seed in an unknowably brutal west, despite losing their second best player for literally half of the season. James Harden, a consensus top-two MVP candidate, notched his fourth triple double of the season in only 27 minutes in the last game of the year. The Rockets went up by 30 points on the Utah Jazz early and stayed there, cruising to a critical and beautiful win. This is the best Houston Rockets team we have seen in a decade, and this has been a a fantastic roller coaster ride. The 2014-2015 season is over, and it ended in the best way.

The Utah jazz were without Gordon Hayward, and they were no match for the Houston Rockets. Harden’s team came out swinging, grabbing a double digit lead in the first quarter, and breaking the back of the Jazz with a 15-0 run in the first half. James Harden may only have scored 16 points, but he got the team going early with his distribution and shot creation against one of the best defenses in the league. He ended the night after three quarters with a stellar 16 point, 11 rebound, 10 assist night and shot only 8 times. Harden is the core of the team, and it was behind his leadership that the Rockets won 56 games when many people pegged them to win fewer than 50.

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in game coverage

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Tiebreakers and the Playoff Picture

After an entire season of resenting the Golden State Warriors for all their success, their probable league MVP and their do-what-we-do-but-better style, they finally gave Rockets fans something to be happy about.  By beating the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, the Warriors gave Houston a little more say in how their season ends up.  But it did little to actually decide the Western Conference playoff picture.  That will have to wait until Wednesday, when the NBA regular season comes to a close. [read more…]






in columns, conversations

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The Houston Rockets won 54 games last year.

They won 54 games tonight, and still have two games left against weaker teams in Charlotte and Utah.

And yet even if they win both games, they could finish as the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

Geez, this is stupid.

As for tonight’s game in and of itself? Well, I do not know how this team managed to win 56 games without Dwight Howard’s defense.

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in game coverage

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Collapsing down the stretch

  • As of this moment, the Houston Rockets sit in sixth in the Western Conference, with a ticket booked for Los Angeles to open up the postseason, if the summer classic were to begin today.  They’ve choked in the manner they do every year around this time, relinquishing a firm grasp on what would have been the franchise’s first division title in 20 years.  It’s pitifully tragic, knowing what this team has overcome and endured this season, that their own undoing will keep them from the praise they deserve.
  • Many of you have asked me on Twitter who I think is to blame, wondering if this may be Kevin McHale’s last dance.  I just don’t think there has to be a culprit in every circumstance, and I just don’t think there’s a culprit here.  Stuff happens.  Houston fought all year, they lost two starters, Dwight Howard is just now getting into rhythm, and James Harden is gassed.  Consequently, the team has unraveled.  Kevin McHale certainly cannot be to blame for any of that.  McHale and the staff had one of the best coaching performances in the league in keeping this team atop of the conference all season.  They’ll certainly get at least another crack at it with this group next season.
  • What has transpired hurts because it pushes this season’s accomplishments into the dustbin of history.  If the team finishes sixth, no one will remember how they overcame all expectations all season, even expectations given for a team with a healthy Dwight Howard, hovering among the top seeds in the brutal West.  People will just look back and see yet another mediocre finish for a franchise that has only known mediocrity for the last two decades.  It doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but as a historian of the team, you can see how it bothers me.

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in columns

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