Last night, Nate Robinson tackled Goran Dragic to the floor. Two nights before, Luis Scola was laid out twice by different Lakers in the span of mere minutes, first by an elbow from Pau Gasol, then from a full on body-check by Matt Barnes. The common thread among all three plays? As has been the case all year, and since Artest, McGrady, and Alston all checked out, no Rockets came to their teammates’ defense.
I’ve discussed this topic previously in many posts, most recently after the ‘Love stomp.’ I know I might be in the minority, but this is something that really bothers me. As I explained before, I’m not advocating retaliation; I just ask that someone stand up and get in someone’s face. Let it be known that such thuggery won’t be tolerated against one’s team.
It continues to baffle me. One staple of every dirty play shown around the league is that almost always, it’s followed up by some form of altercation. Not punches or even shoves. At the least, just verbal confrontation. It floors me when I see a Rocket fly to the floor, and without fail, watch four Rockets rush in to help him up without even giving thought to challenge the offender.
Maybe I’m off. Most of you don’t seem to be too bothered by this. The Rockets are a good, winning team. They play hard. They usually rise to the challenge and play harder after these incidents. Maybe that’s enough. Is there a correlation between the lack of an enforcer and an increase of offenses against one’s team? I always thought–from the NBA I know–that a team needed a psychological edge; a team couldn’t allow itself to be walked on. But that’s more conventional wisdom than proven data.
What do you all think? Is this lack of a response by the Rockets on these dirty plays problematic? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.
I waited for Marcus Morris for a good thirty minutes after the game, in the lockerroom. He never emerged and I’m guessing had already left by the time I got there. To me, his play in garbage time was a main story.
During his six minute span in the fourth, with the game completely out of hand, we saw some of what he can do and what the Rockets hope he one day does against NBA regulars. He posted up on the mid-block and hit a smooth turnaround. He hit a mid-range jumper. He showed some very impressive handles, crossing his man over on two different possessions and getting to the rim.
To be effective, Morris has to have the ball in his hands. Fans need to understand that and also understand that that’s why he hasn’t gotten regular minutes and has also been in the D-League. He’s not a bust; he just can’t help this current team at the moment. As I explained the other day, Morris isn’t a guy like Patterson or Parsons who can do other things to earn minutes and contribute. He’s learning a new position defensively and he isn’t a good rebounder. In fact, he looks to be a very poor rebounder so far. He’s very limited athletically; he doesn’t seem to have much of a burst either laterally or vertically.
The Rockets value Morris as a scorer. And if tonight was any indication, he has the tools. The touch seems there and he should get more comfortable in the post. As I said earlier, the ball-handling was a very pleasant surprise. But realize, it will take time. They won’t run isos for a rookie in the middle of a playoff push.
It will be interesting to see what the future brings. Parsons seems more than entrenched at the small forward spot. If you got the production he’s giving from a veteran, you’d be pleased; this from a second round rookie is unheard of. That leaves just the backup spot for Morris with Chase Budinger to beat.
One of the toughest things about not having a superstar is that you still can’t sort everything out. Everyone is always on the block until that long-awaited move is made. Then you can fill holes around that framework and build chemistry. In the meantime, some guys stay in limbo.
According to VegasInsider.com, Houston’s current odds to win the NBA championship are 100:1, same as Utah, Portland, and Atlanta. Their chances of winning the West, and simply making an appearance in the Finals, are 40:1. Now, obviously those odds aren’t the best, and with Kyle Lowry—the team’s most important player—out indefinitely with a freak illness, they’re somewhat appropriately marked. For all we know the fumes this courageous bunch is currently running on could evaporate tomorrow, and the Rockets could miss the playoffs altogether.
(According to John Hollinger’s most recent Power Rankings, the Rockets have the ninth highest probability of making the postseason, placing them on the outside looking in.) But doesn’t it feel like if they can just get there anything could happen? With multiple shock waves from the infamous “Veto” and lingering lockout still reverberating throughout the league, some absolutely insane, totally unpredictable outcomes could be brewing in the months ahead. Veterans are wearing down, key players who have moved are shifting tides, and some franchises appear to have already set their sights on next season.
If you make the playoffs this season, especially in the Western Conference, the NBA’s current circumstances will give you a great chance to not only make a little noise, but force your neighbors to call the cops. [read more…]