I wrote back on the 10th that Motiejunas needed to be given more playing time. Most of you, including some of my staff, disagreed with that sentiment. (Though interestingly, the responses from Twitter were in vehement agreement.) I still feel strongly about that stance, so I’ll address some of the replies.
First, let me reiterate my thesis. There are only three reasons why the status quo should ensue (ie: Motiejunas should not get burn.)
1. If you think that playing him would have a disastrous effect on the team. I’ve conceded already that Casspi is the far better fit and the numbers back that up. (Ironically, this post comes after one of Casspi’s best games of the year.) But what I’m talking about here is if you think playing Motiejunas would see Asik-Howard levels of detriment, to the point where the team loses multiple games because of his court time.
2. If you think, or think the coaches have concluded, that Motiejunas just straight up sucks and will never get it. Justin Wehr has presented this case nicely, though I do not agree. While I don’t agree, it’s a valid line of argumentation. More on this later.
3. If you think “every game matters.” This is probably the weakest point of my own argument as the Chris Paul injury changes everything. I don’t think the Rockets are one of the four best teams in the conference. But with Paul out for an extended period, the Rockets have an outside chance at the 4-seed.
It was a soggy night in Washington, and in a rare occurence the bad weather outside affected the basketball inside as the game was interrupted on two separate occasions thanks to a leak in the Verizon Center roof. If you stuck around past the rain delays, you would have seen the Rockets allow a huge lead to evaporate as they lost control of a game they were completely dominating for three quarters. They slide from 25 points up at one point to fall behind by 5 midway through the fourth, but were able to recover to escape with the win. For three quarters this was the most complete performance the Rockets have put on since Christmas Day, but the events of the final frame turned it into a nail-biter the Rockets were lucky to escape from with a win.
I hope you didn’t spend your Friday night watching the Rockets lose to the Hawks. This loss lays heavy on all participants. The Rockets are third in the league in scoring at almost 106 a game, but tonight they could only muster 80. With Parsons on the bench and Ronnie Brewer starting and getting 0 points in his 25 minutes, the Rockets could not score. Please McHale play anyone but Brewer. You’d think he was in for his defense, but the Hawks got 20 points off the fast break, beating Houston at it’s own game. Houston only got eight fast points.
After starting with an 11 to 0 run, the Rockets were outscored the rest of the way 83 to 69. Howard looked ok (7 for 11 from the field and 11 boards) but the wings could not consistently get him the ball on the box. The last three and a half quarters were really terrible. The worst part of the game was the end, and it was really bad. With 1:32 to go and down by one, the negativity crystallized. Unbelievably, the Rockets still had a chance to win the game. Harden went into iso mode and missed a three pointer. Then Jeremy Lin turned the ball over with a 3 second call trapped in the paint. The next time down the court Harden takes it to the hole and is blocked by Millsap. And then, after a time-out, Brooks throws a horrible pass and turns it over.