We waited longer than usual for Kevin McHale to appear from the lockerroom and take our questions. When that happens, it’s after a bad loss and we assume hell is being raised behind closed doors. He then is not very pleasant during the presser and in a very bad mood. We assumed tonight would be the same. Oddly, it wasn’t. McHale didn’t really appear too upset. I think the fact that the team fought back and made it a game let them escape his wrath.
This was the most disappointing loss of the year. A win tonight would have pretty much clinched the playoffs giving the team its first appearance in three years. Instead of looking up at the homecourt chase, after a 4-0 road trip, the Rockets are back in a dead tie with the Mavs and Nuggets for the 8th seed. So it goes for the Rockets this season. They are what they are. A pretty good team that has wildly overachieved in the face of adversity but not anything close to a contender.
Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic played 16 minutes together last night. In that time, the Rockets shot 56% from the floor (14/25), dished out 7 assists, and were a +4. They had an offensive rating of 112.6 and a defensive rating of 99.7 (the number of points the team would have scored and given up if extrapolated per 100 possessions.) During that same span, the Blazers shot 38% from the floor but grabbed 7 offensive rebounds.
The Rockets looked absolutely masterful in that fourth quarter with the two point guards playing in tandem. I’m becoming convinced that the lineups which see Dragic and Lowry sharing the backcourt are the team’s best. They were relentless defensively and a blur on the break.
One particular play stood out, lending towards an idea: Jamal Crawford danced, spun, drove into the lane, only to have the ball stripped by Lowry, leading to a fastbreak. While Crawford isn’t particularly large, he is regarded as one of the game’s shiftiest players. All along, in the panic to keep Dragic, the popular sentiment among many has been to move him to the ‘2’, next season. The idea made more sense, in theory, than the proposition of playing Lowry at the ‘2’, due to the players’ respective heights. But is that the proper way to think about the matter?
I got together with Andy Kamenetzky of ESPNLosAngeles to discuss tonight’s huge matchup. That conversation can be found in full at the Land o’Lakers blog:
Even if Lee starts on Bryant, rest assured Parsons will see time in that matchup. Kobe might torch him. Kobe might go cold. It doesn’t matter. As the Rockets have learned over the years, you can live with Kobe taking jump shots. If he’s on, there’s nothing anyone can do. That last game was lost by the Lakers not because the Rockets beat them but because they beat themselves. Andrew Bynum got tossed and Mike Brown inexplicably went away from Ramon Sessions when he was completely picking the Houston defense apart.