Philadelphia 76ers 107, Houston Rockets 100: Morey needs to draft more power forwards.

While losses are never a good thing, I was not that particularly frustrated with the previous losses to the Hornets and the Celtics.  The Hornets defeat from my perspective was the result of a night where the Rockets could not make a jumper and the referees briefly allowed the return of Rileyball in the lane, while a large part of the Celtics defeat could be attributed to a night at the foul line which according to the Rockets broadcast tonight, was the second worst shooting percentage at the line in the history of the team.  While it was on the second night of a back to back, I did have confidence that Houston could defeat a Philadelphia team which barely had a .400 record and had lost five straight.

Instead, after a good initial six minutes to the first quarter where the Rockets led 20 to 9, Philadelphia took the lead at 22-21 and never looked back.  The pattern of the game largely repeated itself from there, as Philadelphia would take a double digit lead, slow down, and then the Rockets would climb back to within about 3 points before Jason Richardson or Dorrel Wright made yet another 3 pointer or Evan Turner made a crazy turnaround and then the 76ers started off on another run where they created another double digit lead.  A 76ers team which had not scored above 89 points since a victory over the Lakers on New Year’s Day finished with 107 points on a field goal percentage of almost 50 percent.  While the Hornets and Celtics losses could be viewed as anomalies due to the factors mentioned in the previous paragraphs, this defeat was due to general failures on Houston’s part up and down the board and thus is much more concerning.  Or rather to be more specific, up and down at two positions.

Jrue Holliday is my personal pick for Most Improved Player so far, and there is little doubt that he will deservedly play in Houston this February for the Eastern Conference All-Stars.  But tonight he played like an All-Star starter as he mercilessly shredded both Lin and Douglas throughout the game.  When the Rockets closed to a 75-71 score with two minutes left in the third quarter, Holliday instantly threw up eight points in those next two minutes and hit a jumper at the end which I initially believed beat the buzzer but was waved off.  While Lin did manage to pick his pockets a few times, Holliday finished with a strong performance of 30 points and 9 assists.  By contrast, Lin remained largely ineffective for much of the game.  He followed up his good passing performance against Boston with another decent showing on that front with 5 assists and 1 turnover, but was repeatedly stuffed at the rim and missed all three 3 pointers he attempted.  Douglas was little better at the offensive end as well, as he ran Toney Douglas plays such as pull-up jumpers and wild layups which occasionally work but more often cause one to question his judgment.

As for the power forwards? In yesterday’s recap against the Celtics, I noted that the combined output of Morris and Patterson in 38 minutes failed to equal that of Jared Sullinger.  Tonight, the two combined to throw up seven points and 2 rebounds (0 for Patterson) on 10 shots, this time failing to equal the output of either Spencer Hawes or Thaddeus Young.  To be fair, they were only on the court for 33 minutes because McHale ran with a lineup of Lin-Harden-Delfino-Parsons-Asik for the entire fourth quarter, but given all the interest in who would be playing at that position before the season began, it is utterly embarrassing for Parsons, who tries as always and had an excellent game tonight but lacks the bulk to actually play at the 4, to be the person at that spot for now.

  • In the aftermath of the recent struggles of our playing power forwards, there has been lot of discussion of calling up Terrence Jones or granting Donatas Motiejunas additional playing time.  However, while they have been heavily advertised, I think a measure of caution should be exercised before talking about them as saviors.  While Jones had an impressive Summer League and preseason, he has not necessarily been lighting up the D-League as he has shot under 45% there.  Motiejunas, by contrast, has shown in his limited minutes his offensive skills, but that has never been the concern about him.  A mere glance at the Lithuanian should easily confirm the lack of bulk which he possesses compared to Patterson and Morris, something which is critical to surviving the roughness of a NBA basketball court.  And the less I say about Mr. White, the better.  While I can hardly pretend to know what Morey thinks about the struggles at power forward, I believe that we are likely going to see Patterson and Morris continue there for the rest of the season, and that the Rockets will look into upgrading it during the offseason.  We are likely in for a bumpy ride, but that is to be expected for a team seeking to build around a wing superstar.
  • Speaking of the wing superstar, a special mention should go out to a jaw-dropping James Harden play made with 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter.  Harden brought the ball behind his back, dribbled it between his legs, went up against Spencer Hawes, and finished the basketball while drawing a technical foul from the angry center.  A YouTube video, credit to the Rockets fansite Clutchfans, shows what transpired far better than my meager descriptions.   Obviously there have been great moments since Dream left, but that has to be one of the most amazing singular plays pulled off by a Rocket since him.  Still, even a player this incredible will need some help in order to win, and Harden will need a second option better than Chandler Parsons if the Rockets are to go anywhere.

Fortunately, there will be no Houston basketball tomorrow as the Texans prepare to upset New England, but the next game will be on Tuesday against the rising Clippers.  After blowing three games against less dangerous teams, the now 8th-seeded Rockets will need to beat an extremely good one to end this skid.

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About the author: The son of transplants to Houston, Paul McGuire is now a transplant in Washington D.C. The Stockton shot is one of his earliest memories, which has undoubtedly contributed to his lack of belief in the goodness of man.

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  • cdhthegreat says 3 YEARs ago I don't mind not being elite, it just bugs me when we lose to inferior teams. There are about 4 teams in the conference that are better than we are from a talent perspective, but right now we're 8th. That is what bothers me.
  • Rahat Huq says 3 YEARs ago I'm just as guilty as this as anyone but I think after the 10-2 stretch, we placed expectations too high on this team and thought it was the norm. Now that they've regressed to the mean, we're disappointed when in actually, they are what we've always thought they were. A pretty good team that will contend for and likely make the playoffs as a lower seed, but not a homecourt team.
  • cdhthegreat says 3 YEARs ago I've been talking Jason Thompson up a lot on thedreamshake.... He'd be my ideal easily gettable 4. Playing for a good team would probably help him out as well.
  • Stephen says 3 YEARs ago Wouldn't be surprised to see Beverly up soon,as defense on PGs is supposed to be a strength of his.

    My suggested tweak trade would be Pat(and prob Aldrich) to Sac for Jason Thompson.
    Thompson will never be an All-Star,but is a perfect complementary big,able to play PF or C. He rebounds well(9 Per36),plays decent D(a block a game),scores adequately(@ 11ppg on a team full of no-passing gunners). Has no 3pt shot and a MLE contract for 5 yrs,but he has height-6'11"-and can start at PF and shift to C when Asik goes out.
  • Stephen says 3 YEARs ago Re Jones in D-League. About 1/3 his shots are 3s,which he's hitting at @ .350 he's shooting nearly 50% on 2s(a few points below Pat) and he getting 5.8 Fts a game.(@ 36 minutes/game)
    Pat is shooting .343 on 3s,over 50% on twos,only 1/5 of his shots are 3s and he's getting 1.3 FTs a game.(@ 27 minutes/game)
    Morris is shooting .374 on 3s,over 50% on twos,w/@ 44% of his shots being 3s and getting 1.6 FTs a game.(@ 23 minutes/game)
    Jones is averaging 18.75ppg on 15.2 shots,Pat is getting 11.9ppg on 10.2 shots and Morris 8.8ppg on 7.5 shots.

    Interestingly,the three are scoring about the same per shot,but get their points differently.
    Jones gets to the line,Pat feasts on 2pt shots and Morris gets his from the 3pt line.
    Rebounding is hard to quantify as the talent level among the bigs is so different. However,Morris and Pat are both averaging 6.5 rebounds Per36 minutes and Jones in his limited minutes in the NBA ave'd 7.1 Per36.
  • Ostrow says 3 YEARs ago I would love them to bring back Landry, but there is no way that the Warriors would trade him. He is the type of player we need. A guy who you can throw it to in the post and can score. If someone like him is available and doesn't take a lot to get I think we need to make that deal. I know we have a ton of 4's, but we need someone who can score w/ his back to the basket.
  • cdhthegreat says 3 YEARs ago I fundamentally disagree with the "they are young so it's an excuse to lose" line of thought. You should beat teams you're better than, simple and plain. We have a horribly big hole at the 4 and the fact that the only way we can consistently score is on the break... both are failings of the coaching staff (half court deficiencies) and management (been drafting 4's for years and the 2 we end up with in the rotation do the EXACT same things offensively and have some of the same defensive flaws too? Bring back Landry).

    These losses were schedule losses so I'm not going to cry about them, but there are some foundational issues that need to be ironed out if we're going to be competing for a homecourt spot this year.
  • joshtwillis says 3 YEARs ago It's almost impossible not to be completly disappointed in a 3 game losing streak obviously. However I think we are all guilty of getting to high with our praise in a win or a winning streak and too low with our criticism in a loss, or in this case a losing streak. This is a very young team with 3 out of the five starters coming from different teams in the offseaon and eleven out of the fifteen players on the roster either being rookies or players coming from different teams and learning how to play with each other for the first time. As a fan sometimes the hardest things can be having patience, but so far this team has had a surprisingly very good start to the season and what looks to be a very bright future ahead.
    (sorry for the double post I hit the comment button on accident before I was finished)
  • joshtwillis says 3 YEARs ago It's almost impossible not to be completly disappointed in a 3 game losing streak obviously. However I think we are all guilty of getting to high with our praise in a win or a winning streak and too low with our criticism in a loss, or in this case a losing streak. This is a very young team with 3 out of the five starters coming from different teams in the offseaon and eleven out of the fiftenn learning to play with eath other for the first time
  • Bigtkirk says 3 YEARs ago Lin's consistency is still a bit suspect, but let's remember that he is still essentially a first year player at PG. He continues to show enough potential that improvement in consistency appears likely.

    On the other hand, PF is a real problem. Patterson appears to be, at best, a backup big. Morris may not even be that. Both played worse than a replacement level player against Philly.
  • Sir Thursday says 3 YEARs ago Also re: Harden's amazing play. It was very nice, but unfortunately the replay shows it was also a clear double dribble as he uses both hands to control the ball after putting it between his legs. It's a shame such a sweet move was tarnished by such a fundamental flaw :(.

  • Sir Thursday says 3 YEARs ago

    amacbrooks12, on 13 January 2013 - 06:25 AM said:

    So sick and tired of all these PGs absolutely abusing Jeremy Lin.

    To be fair, Holiday is a beast that anyone would struggle to guard. There's a reason they were so abysmal when we played them last time - he wasn't on the floor.

    It feels like the scouting report is catching up to the Rockets a bit. Teams know they've got to get back and defend in transition, and it's significantly reducing the number of quick shot opportunities the Rockets can get by running. Perhaps fatigue plays a part in that as well - I haven't been seeing players push the ball up the court with the same level of intent they had during the hot streak in the last few games.

  • amacbrooks12 says 3 YEARs ago So sick and tired of all these PGs absolutely abusing Jeremy Lin.
  • goRockets says 3 YEARs ago Maybe it's time to start Patterson at the 4, and Morris come off the bench. Patterson is the better defender, and too much pressure on Morris as starter. Lin did have a terrible shooting night, but he still had the best /- out of starters at 8, so that means when he goes off court, the Rockets can keep their leads. Douglas is too small a guard to defend the really good PGs.
  • cdhthegreat says 3 YEARs ago a roadie 4 games in 5 nights is tough...

    if we don't upgrade our 4 by the deadline I'm not sure we make the playoffs.

    we also need a halfcourt offense.
  • Red94 says 3 YEARs ago New post: Philadelphia 76ers 107, Houston Rockets 100: Morey needs to draft more power forwards.
  • Cooper says 3 YEARs ago Lin had a really rough game.
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