“Holy Cow, James Harden” – In an article that has already created some buzz in the forums, Zach Lowe gets some data that shows just how dangerous the Beard is on drives to the basket:
Back to Harden: Houston is scoring 1.51 points per possession on trips in which he drives at any time in the shot clock. That is easily the highest mark among all players in the 15-team database with more than a token number of drives. It is a mammoth number; keep in mind, teams average just about one point per possession overall. Harden has drawn a foul on one-third of his drives, which is among the highest numbers in the data set, and sort of amazing when you think about it.
Also, it points out that Jeremy Lin generates as many points on drives as Tony Parker.
Dunkface – Last night, Jeremy Lin posted the best highlight of his career so far that hasn’t involved either a blue tongue or winning.
If there has been anything to note during Houston’s recent stretch of well-played games, it has been the attention that the team pays to the 3-point shot. Not only to our ability to shoot the 3, but to also ensure that the opponent doesn’t make their own 3’s. The Golden State game where Houston tied the NBA record was also interesting in that a team which possesses Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson went only 3-15 from the 3 point line. Just as Moneyball emphasizes the importance of avoiding the foul on defense, Houston also prefers to chase opponents off the 3-point line and concede the mid-range jumper.
However, tonight was not to be. I don’t watch the Kings, but I do know that while they own one of the worst records in the league, they also have a 14-12 record at home. Perhaps that record may or may not be due to everyone on their team turning into Ray Allen from the 3 point line on a regular basis, but it certainly worked tonight as the Kings surged in the 4th quarter and stayed consistent for most of the game thanks to an excellent game from their perimeter shooters. An interior defense that was allowed to hammer Houston whenever they entered the paint prevented the layup certainly helped for them as well.
It doesn’t take more than a cursory glance at the standings (or Forrest’s game preview) to know that tonight’s game was one of the most important of the season so far. Portland are the most serious challengers for the 8th seed the Rockets currently occupy, and in addition are 2-0 up in the season series. To keep the Blazers at bay and their chances of splitting the tie-breaker alive, it was critical that they get the W tonight. For the Rockets, Delfino returned to active duty after missing a game with an injured left elbow. It sounds as though it’s an issue that will continue to dog Delfino throughout the rest of the season – this may lead to him missing the occasional game in future. The Trailblazers came in with Batum nursing a bruised wrist, but otherwise their regulars were all healthy (a few fringe players – Sasha Pavlovic and Ronny Price – are out for them).