Houston Rockets 118, Portland Trailblazers 113: Is this a team of destiny?

Houston amazingly, was in the game in the last minute.  After losing the first three quarters by a combined 12 points, the Rockets woke up.  It took Houston three quarters to recharge emotionally from their game against the Pacers two nights ago.  For the first three quarters, Portland won every contested free ball, they were quicker to the boards (POR 56 HOU 48) and fate seemed destined in the Blazers’ favor. But, this is the NBA, so the Rockets had the ball with 11 seconds left and a chance to tie.

Jeremy Lin barely beat the five second inbound rule, and found Harden in the corner for a three.  Harden hits nothing but net, giving Harden 17 for the quarter.  Tie game.  Portland had the ball with 8 seconds left and they threw an inbound pass that Lin tipped.  With Houston out of timeouts, they had to rush upcourt and Beverley took an awkward three point, one-handed runner from the top of the key, that bounced off the iron twice before falling out.

Houston woke up the crowd in the 4th quarter and outscored the Blazers by 12.  Lillard started the overtime with a three and then fouled out with 3:30 left in OT.  That was too much for the Blazers to overcome.  Then Beverley fouled out with 2:55 left in OT, Portland by three.

The Rockets got back into the game by going small.  They played Lin, Harden and Beverley in the 4th quarter.  So when Beverley fouled out they continue to go small, leaving Jones (with a +/- of -19) and D Mo (who only played eight minutes) on the bench, with McHale inserting Hamilton.  Neither D Mo nor Jones played in the 4th quarter.

McHale deserves credit for his lineup tinkering.  For all the growing pains earlier in the year, McHale sure is pulling the right strings lately.  I haven’t seen near as much chatter in the forums complaining about the coaching choices.  McHale’s style is working well for Howard, Harden is still growing into the 4th quarter killer, Beverley is highly valued, Parsons continues his steady play, D Mo has hustled his way into his good graces, Jones’ development should be credited to the coach and when Hamilton is acquired, McHale has trusted him with big minutes.  Everything is clicking now.

Lin played his best basketball in many games and hit some clutch shots down the stretch.  He got massive minutes, finished with 26 points and a +/- of +21.  It was so great to see McHale go to the small lineup.  It was hard to watch for a few possessions as Harden was guarding Aldridge and getting into foul trouble.  Then having to watch Parsons try that match-up was equally brutal.  But, with Lin looking like the player Rockets fans know and love, the Blazers couldn’t match the speed of the three guards.

Harden was an amazing 7 of 12 from behind the arc and ended with 41 points and 10 boards.  His big three-pointer at the end of regulation was the tipping point and the momentum continued into overtime for the win.  James had to play 47 minutes to secure this one, but the win was huge.  You can’t say enough about The Beard tonight.  He did it all, and with the guards running, it didn’t turn into iso ball.  The ball moved around the horn, Howard set awesome screens and other people hit shots.

Only one play stagnated in crunch time.  With the Rockets up by one and one minute left, Lin waited for Harden.  James pounded nails, got in trouble with the shot clock and had to take a tough shot that was blocked.

Are the stars aligning?  This stretch against Miami, Indiana and Portland makes long time Rockets fans hoping/thinking that this years team could be a team of destiny. For a team that hasn’t won a playoff series since ‘09, this is an exciting time.  Instead of being tied with Portland (and behind in the playoff seedings), Houston takes a two game advantage over the Blazers to maintain the third spot in the West.

 

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Total comments: 8
  • PhillyCheese says 4 months ago

    There's been plenty of blaming directed towards the refs in this game ... from both sides. It was pretty evident the refs were too prominent. The Rox got shafted early: - the three pointer that Portland got was clearly after the expiry of the 24 sec clock; the out-of-bounds call where it looked likeMo Williams had his hand between the ball and Bev's hand yet Prtland got possession; and the no-call on Lin's layup where the Matthews clearly hits Lin in the elbow. But there were also some make up calls too - push off by Lillard with the offhand on Bev, the moving screen on Lin by Lopez and the push off on Lin by Matthews on transition.

    The Rox guards stuck their noses in the Portland guards' space and this led to the calls. So you have to give them credit for playing tight defense. Portland had a bad turnover in the last play in regulation where Lin tipped the alley oop meant for Lillard, to Bev who if he had not fallen down would have gotten an even better shot off.

    The Rox got the calls because they were the driving team, while Portland settled for jumpers. Zach Lowe was bang on when he wrote an article saying that Houston's free throws are not a fluke or accident, but simply due to probability.

    Final comment - the Rox are so lucky they got Howard because he allows tem to play small and not give up too much on the defensive side.

  • QNoir says 4 months ago

    Thank the lawd for the re-emergance of a semi competant Lin. His confidence really does seem tied to the amount of time he spends on the court. If he keeps playing like this, he might keep Jordan Hamilton off the court long enough to turn it up to the level that this team is going to need going into the playoffs. That being said, Lin and his fans need to understand role as THE 6th man will come and go depending on the efficiency of his play/defensive play. He got burned by Lillard repeatedly on screening action.

    Harden looked incrediballs. Beverly looks great as well. Can't wait until Asik becomes the dominant rebounding force that he was last season as a backup to Dwight.

    Burned by Lillard? I saw no such thing. He rarely guarded Lillard. And when he did, I didn't see Lillard make any big plays. I don't think I'll ever understand fans' measures of defensive competence. "Look real hyperactive and stuff" seems to be what they want. Not results. Just like the final play of regulation last night. Dudes are yelling Patrick Beverly, Patrick Beverly, Patrick Beverly. But Lin denied Lillard the ball. I don't get it.

  • txtdo1411 says 4 months ago

    Lin was huge this game! When we needed a second scorer to step up he came in and provided it in a big way. If he can continue to play like that, the opportunities are endless for this team. Credit to Mchale for going small and throwing out a lineup of Bev-Lin-Harden-Parsons-Howard. We needed more offensive firepower, and this lineup change was one of the main reasons we were able to claw our way back into the game. What an exciting game, and what a fun team!

  • dbd says 4 months ago

    Credit to coach McHale for going small. We all knew Lin was playing very bad lately. Well, coach knew something we didn't for sure.

  • Alituro says 4 months ago

    Lin looked good last night. Apparently his back bothered him less as he was able to pick up the speed after his first step that is so deadly. That burst has been missing for a couple weeks. He also seemed to be more hesitant to pick up his dribble on the low block too, often forcing a shot up, and often keeping the dribble alive, instead of freezing the ball or making his regular goofy passes. If he keeps up this aggression, it will be really good for the team in the long run.

    It says a lot about this teams' mettle to overcome everything working against them last night, from their chemistry problems and lack of ball movement through 3.5 quarters, to the lost loose balls and lost calls from the refs. Where many teams would've folded like a cheap suit after the end of the 3rd, they rallied around each other and their coach and made it happen. They believe in each other and buy into whatever coach is selling them. This may very well be a team of destiny.

    You want an omen? Who's our top players? Harden (#13) Dwight (#12), and Parsons (#25). What exactly happened on 12/25/13? That's right, a complete dismantling of the WC's previous team of destiny. The torch was passed on that day.

    12/25/13!

    Never forget!

    Remember the Alamo!

    Merry Xmas!

    GO ROCKETS!

  • Steven says 4 months ago I thought the Rockets won. The headline says they lost by 5.
  • bladad says 4 months ago

    Thank the lawd for the re-emergance of a semi competant Lin. His confidence really does seem tied to the amount of time he spends on the court. If he keeps playing like this, he might keep Jordan Hamilton off the court long enough to turn it up to the level that this team is going to need going into the playoffs. That being said, Lin and his fans need to understand role as THE 6th man will come and go depending on the efficiency of his play/defensive play. He got burned by Lillard repeatedly on screening action.

    Harden looked incrediballs. Beverly looks great as well. Can't wait until Asik becomes the dominant rebounding force that he was last season as a backup to Dwight.

  • Jatman20 says 4 months ago You can expect most players to start to understand the NBA by their third season. It was often painful seeing Jordan Hill in his 2nd year in the league giving us so-so effort most games and a decent game once every 15 games.....which continued in his 3rd year. I would have traded DMo for a couple of steak dinners earlier in the season. DMo has gotten better with his defensive rotations; still needs work on shot selections and avoiding getting pushed under the rim. Asik will get back in shape and hopefully catch a GMs eye with playoff action. Things are falling into place as D12 trusts TJ more to cover his back defensively. Now the Rockets can do whatever they want with the improvement of FT & 3P shooting along with lob accuracy. From a devastating PnR pairing to Beverley developing a floater in the lane.......the Rockets are poised to take the next step of better defense and set plays. A month + of regular season to play-around and tinker. I would like Harden to work on his post up of smaller guys.......über-quick guys may present some problems like Collison of the Clippers did. Miami tried Chalmers a bit on Harden without much success; but Chalmers is not as quick as Collison. Always be prepared. And as far as Harden and Lin......A)ways B)e C)losing....."Coffee is for Closers." [Glengarry Glen Ross --Movie>
    Harden looks to have worked on his spot up shooting.