Let’s just get the most important thing about this game out of the way – and which has absolutely nothing to do with the Houston Rockets and everything to do with Stephen Curry.

Curry was clearly limited in the first half, but you could see how much better he makes the Warriors. Even while he could not shoot, Curry is an underrated distributor and he did a great job at finding the open man for the Warriors in the first half. Never mind the fact that his mere presence at the three-point line can send even the best defenses panicking and scrambling.

In fact, I would say that despite the scoring disparity between the halves, I don’t feel like the Warriors played significantly better basketball in the second half. They just went bonkers from three-point range and the Rockets played a lot worse.

And boy, did they play worse. The first half was the most inspired play which I have seen from this team all season long. They got several nice lobs to Howard, Beasley scored so well that the Warriors double-teamed him, Harden facilitated, and Beverley ran around like an animal.

But then the Houston Rockets, tied at the half and facing the prospect of going down 3-1, “dropped their guard” according to J.B. Bickerstaff. And as they have done this season, the Rockets had a stretch or a period where the fans start to think things may turn around before getting slapped down by the hard wall of reality.

And as the Rockets face Game 5 and elimination on Wednesday against a Golden State team which will probably not play Curry, only the most hardcore of hardcore Rockets fans might believe they can take one, let alone two games in the Oracle Arena.

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in game coverage


How do you stop Shaun Livingston?

You could argue Shaun Livingston was the catalyst in Golden State getting back into the game on Thursday night, and almost stealing the victory.  I went back and watched all thirteen of his field goal attempts.  Here were the six made baskets:

  1. a fast break where he got behind Beverley and slammed down an alleyoop pass from Draymond Green.
  2. a semi-fastbreak where Harden picked him and he blew past Terry easily for the slam off the switch.
  3. a post up against Beverley where he just shot up over the top.
  4. a post up where he shot over the top of Beverley.
  5. a post up where Beverley gambled, he got past Beverley, and then he scored over Beasley on the help.
  6. a play where he  pump faked Harden, got him in the air, and hit a mid range jumper.

Here were the seven misses:

  1. A pullup jumper against Beverley.
  2. a missed jumper by Speights that for some reason NBA.com has listed as a field goal attempt by Livingston.
  3. a midrange jumper against Terry where he went around the pick.
  4. a drive against Harden where he missed the layup after a good contest at the rim by Harden.
  5. a post up against Harden where he missed the face up jumper.
  6. a midrange pullup after some dribble moves, against Ariza.
  7. a tear drop in the lane where he was matched up against Harden, Beasley switched, and then he got open after Harden was picked off in the lane.

Not surprisingly, the damage was primarily done against the much smaller Beverley.  The Rockets did a pretty good job on Livingston otherwise.  With Steph Curry coming back, the dynamics will be different tonight, as Livingston will go back to the bench.  But I wonder if Golden State will look to him in the post earlier, something they didn’t look to exploit until the second half on Thursday.

Obviously, you want to keep size on Livingston at all times, and that means either Harden or Ariza.  The problem there is that you need Ariza for Klay Thompson if he’s also on the floor at that same time.  I also worry that we’ll see Corey Brewer reinserted into the lineup tonight as an extra wing for Livingston.

A situation like this would seem tailor made for the strengths of K.J. McDaniels, but I’m guessing J.B. finds his offensive limitations a net negative.  I’d personally play McDaniels with Beasley so that even if Harden is sitting, you know you have a threat to score one on one regardless of the spacing.  Hopefully, the Rockets can keep it close enough this afternoon to where the chess match will matter.

in musings


Some more thoughts on the Game 3 victory

  • Thursday’s game illustrated why I was so despondent after the Motiejunas trade, prior to its nullification by Detroit.  Motiejunas will by no means ever be a star player, but the quality contributions he made in Game 3 were the sort of production a team needs from its role players if intending to compete for a title.  He spread the floor, he worked inside, and most importantly, he defended.  I wondered back at the deadline, weren’t players like this the type you wanted to add?  But despite the breakout, it appears Morey, having access I do not to the Lithuanian’s medical records, made the correct gamble initially.  Until Thursday, D-Mo looked bad for most of the year, only adding to the doubts concerning his health.  And his cap hold would likely need to be off the books if Houston’s master-plan of possessing two max-slots is to come to fruition.  I can get behind that plan, if it means Kevin Durant is coming to town.  But if it fails, which is the likely scenario, it would be difficult to part ways with a young player the type of whom the team needs to be adding to its core, not subtracting; another star-chasing casualty.

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in uncategorized

I have no idea what just happened.

The Golden State Warriors just kept chipping away at what had once been a 17-point Houston Rockets lead, and had even surged to take a one-point lead with less than a minute left. The Rockets got the lead, and just needed to hold on the ball. Then they nearly lost the ball once, failed to inbound the ball twice, and lobbed a bizarre pass to Michael Beasley which the Warriors easily picked off. Ian Clark raced down the court, got a layup, and the game seemed over.

Then James Harden took a shot straight out of Jordan’s 1998 playbook to bring the score to 97 in just ten seconds. And Steve Kerr’s response, with 3 seconds left, was to give the ball to Draymond Green about 35 feet away from the court. Even if Green hadn’t dribbled it off of his foot, I struggle to figure out what Kerr was planning with this.

But Green did dribble the ball off his foot, and so the Rockets survive for another game. And while this means that Stephen Curry will probably return in Game 4 to bury the Rockets behind an artillery barrage of three-pointers, it was still a pretty nice win.

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in game coverage


The one thing that has amused me about this season is how much NBA fans and analysts still hate the Houston Rockets even while this team continues to embarrass themselves.

Only the Los Angeles Clippers attract even remotely the same amount of hate over social media, and at least they’re a good team. But even as the Rockets spiral into irrelevance, there is still plenty of outright glee over how they are playing, especially after losing to the Golden State Warriors without Steph Curry. And this playoff “run”, which was supposed to spare the Rockets the embarrassment of falling to the lottery, is just destroying their credibility even more like Rahat said.

But while James Harden and Dwight Howard are hated for various reasons, neither of them have embraced the hatred like a proper heel might. But not Patrick Beverley. Beverley is the kind of guy who will straight up challenge the NBA’s golden child, even if it did not necessarily end well for him in Game 1, and led to the Golden State crowd still lustily booing him throughout Game 2.

And I like that about Beverley. In a season where the Rockets have shown no fire and questions have been raised about James Harden’s leadership, the question should instead be why the other Rockets have not followed Beverley’s example.

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