Why not James Harden as the point guard?

The Rockets have featured lineups with James Harden as the point guard, in spurts, but I, and others, have scoffed at the suggestion of making a full-time positional change.  In a recent outing, with K.J. McDaniels covering the other team’s point man, and the Rockets surging with Harden at the ‘1’, I began to wonder, inquiring on Twitter, “why not?”

The two most obvious points against are that a) Harden would be completely incapable of guarding the other team’s point guard and b) having to bring the ball up would tire him out.  The obvious rebuttal to point ‘a’, as exhibited when Harden has played the spot situationally, is to have Ariza (or his successor) guard the point guard with Harden guarding the lesser of the two wings.  The rebuttal to point ‘b’, however, is particularly significant.

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in essays

The Houston Rockets have won 38 games. And there have not been many of those wins where I switched off my TV happy with what I saw.

Today was different. In the best Houston Rockets victory since they shut down the San Antonio Spurs on Christmas, the Rockets just plain fought against the Oklahoma City Thunder. They really attacked the Thunder on defense, rebounded the ball, and came out with all the hustle and grit which we have missed from this team all season. And they stayed with the Thunder for most of the game before finally just locking their opponents down with a new lineup not seen all season.

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in game coverage

If there is anything I have learned about the NBA after this Houston Rockets season, it is the importance of coaching.

I have long held that in the NBA, you will have about five or so coaches who actively harm their team and five or so coaches who really help their team. Every other coach is in a mire of mediocrity, and you can substitute one out for another without any major effects.

Well, either coaching is more important than that, or the Houston Rockets have one of the five coaches who harm their team. Tonight demonstrated that no matter what happens over the rest of this season, Coach J.B. Bickerstaff is utterly unqualified to coach the Rockets over the long term.

Someone who runs the rotations he ran tonight cannot be expected to be a head coach.

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in game coverage

Ball is Life: Time to shut it down?

As the most disappointing Houston Rockets since well, I don’t know, draws to a close, perhaps the worst part of this story is that the Rockets still have a good shot at making the playoffs.

After yesterday’s victory against Cleveland, ESPN gives the Rockets a 92.8 percent chance of making the playoffs and facing the Spurs juggernaut, while FiveThirtyEight gives them a 90 percent chance. The Dallas Mavericks appear to be the odd team out. While Houston and Dallas will play each other one more time, the Rockets currently have the tiebreaker and an easier schedule down the stretch.

But what will Houston even accomplish in the playoffs? They will be lucky to win one game against the Warriors or Spurs. You cannot claim that “playoff experience” is necessary for a team which just reached the Western Conference Finals last year, and so the question has to be asked:

Should the Rockets just shut it down, give up on this season, and complete this humiliation? Or should they keep trying, for whatever good it has done them this year?

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in columns

We’ve seen this movie before. The Houston Rockets falter in the first half, get in a big hole, then make a furious comeback in the second half. They do it just about every other game, it seems like. Often, the story ends with an unhappy ending for the Rockets, as it did against the Indiana Pacers. Tonight, however, they tried the same thing and got a better result. The Rockets rallied back from a 20-point deficit to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers. Oh, and by the way? LeBron James didn’t play. Maybe it’s not really that impressive. Either way, the Rockets get a much-needed tick in the wins tally.

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in game coverage

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