After last night’s loss, the Rockets moved back down to 9th in the Western Conference, a familiar spot in recent weeks. There’s no point in trying to diagnose the team’s problems. It’s simple: they’re playing without their starting backcourt. One could argue that Dragic and Lee have been better than Lowry and Martin, but the fact still remains that losing two critical pieces takes a huge chunk out from a team’s overall depth. In fact, I think it’s remarkable that they’re even still in this thing.
As I had written last week, the Rockets had been feeding Patrick Patterson in the paint pretty aggressively in recent games. They went away from that last night and it paid off with the big man hitting some huge jumpers down the stretch. I think the team needs to abandon the idea of Pat in the post altogether, or at least, for now. He just doesn’t have the touch. He seems to put the same force into shooting the shot as he does into backing down his man. And quite frankly, why do fans insist that he post up anyways? He’s a good to very good jump shooter and even without a postup option, just running their normal guard oriented offense, the Rockets are top 10 in the league in production. To be a good big man, you don’t have to post up. If you play defense–which Pat does–and you space the floor, you will more than suffice. That’s what Charles Oakley did and I don’t think anybody in New York was complaining about him.
The Houston Rockets currently employ two very good point guards: Goran Dragic and Kyle Lowry. With Dragic an unrestricted free agent next summer, and Lowry already locked up, the team will face an unenviable decision. Over the next few months, I will look into some of the factors that will play a role in the eventual outcome. Today, in this first installment, I took a look at each player’s statistical production.
As a starter, in 11 starts, Goran Dragic is averaging 16.6ppg, 9.5apg, while shooting 52% from the field and 46% on 3’s.
As a starter, in 38 starts, Kyle Lowry is averaging 15.9ppg, 7.2apg, while shooting 42% from the floor and 39% on 3’s.
Notes: The sample size on Dragic, 11 games, is small enough to where you’d probably expect those shooting averages to regress to the mean slightly, but, at the same time, it’s also large enough to where you can’t dismiss the sheer gaudiness as a total fluke. I think the overall takeaway is that as a starter, Dragic is, and will be, very good.
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.