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Recap: Houston Rockets 105, Detroit Pistons 96

The “New Age” Rockets made their debut at the Palace tonight to a wide array of questions after a season of complete roster shakeup. Can the rookies play? Will some break out? How will Asik work full time? Can Lin go Linsane once again?

And the biggest question of all got the biggest answer of all: How will Harden work as the franchise player?

In a tiring 44 minutes, he racked up 37 points (on 14-25 shooting), 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals. If you drafted him in a fantasy league, imagine your feelings multiplied by about a thousand, and you might have an inkling of how Morey and the Rockets front office feels right about now. Given how many touches he had, four turnovers is very reasonable, and he managed to knock down 4 of his 10 attempts from downtown.

#Beardsanity is trending.

Given that this is by far the story of the game, and maybe even the night, it’s worth gushing about The Beard a little here. His first bucket as a Rocket was a quick layup-and-one straight into the teeth of an often porous Detroit interior defense. That was also his last one. If this game is any indication of his intentions, he’s happy to the the first option. He’s happy to pass to an open Carlos Delfino for threes. He’s happy to facilitate dunks. This is his show, now, and it looked like he loved it. It’s possible (even likely) that this was a one game anomaly, and his numbers will come back to earth. He can’t play 44 minutes every game, after all, and not every team is Detroit. But he’s already shown himself to be a massive upgrade at the position, and he’d have to fall back quite a bit to not be worth the 5 year, 80 million dollar contract he just signed.

Oh yeah, the Rockets have other players, too. Despite the fairly convincing final score, the game was a back and forth affair throughout, with both teams giving up runs more than taking them. 16 Pistons turnovers and 20 for the Rockets combined to make the game look more like wind sprints than NBA action for stretches in the middle. This Rockets team is young and uneven, which probably surprises no one.

None were more uneven than Marcus Morris. Three for ten shooting isn’t great, especially given that most of those were close to the basket. He also showed a Dalembert-level ability to not catch the ball on a few plays. Given how questionable he looked last year, and how unhelpful his game was tonight, one wonders why he got the start over Terrence Jones.

Jones wasn’t the only player with a DNP-CD tonight. In fact, all the Rockets rookies got to keep their warmups on the entire game. If Harden weren’t suddenly capping the Rockets (one summer) rebuild, it would be much more distressing to see the lack of minutes for developing players. Hopefully whatever Jones, White, Motiejunas… and Aldrich did to get in McHale’s doghouse is resolved soon, since Patterson is still nursing a strained quad, and Morris is unsatisfactory.

The Rockets bench in general looked wan throughout, with the exception of Delfino (7 boards, 15 points on 5-6 three point shooting). Of course, that’s what he’s there for. He’s going to get a lot of good looks this season with defenses focusing on Lin and Harden.

Lin was overshadowed by his own spotty shooting and Harden’s transcendent game. Five for twelve from the floor isn’t terrible, but isn’t good enough. His 8 assists all looked nice, though, and four steals is always nice. He had a few silly turnovers (four), but that’s at least down from the Linsanity days.

Asik led the team in rebounds with 9, and that’s something you can expect to read about 81 more times. He was the only Rocket consistently getting position to grab boards, and he also managed 5-6 shooting. He plays within his offensive limitations well, and he’s almost surely going to be putting in a similarly workmanlike game throughout.

Parsons had the well-rounded game we’ve come to expect from the new Glue Guy on the team, grabbing 7 rebounds and sending out 6 dimes. His 3 for 9 shooting was a bit less pretty, though. He kind of disappeared tonight, and that may just be the new reality for him.

The Pistons came out ready to win at home after a pretty good second half of last season, and an extremely good draft pick in Andre Drummond. He was quiet and played in limited minutes, but Greg Monroe was a real problem for Houston, putting up a very respectable 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists line. The Pistons aren’t bad, and their offense was often deadly on jumpers. The Rockets had real problems staying on perimeter shooters and boxing out to save their lives. Until Harden saved the team in the fourth, a disastrous (17-23) third quarter saw the worst of the Rockets’ rookie tendencies come out and stay out. For the first time in a while, the Rockets have a thin bench.

Despite some uncertainty, there’s joy in Mudville for Rockets fans at last. For the first time in years, they won their opening game, and they have a player who looks ready to grow into a franchise cornerstone. NBA fans are starting to get excited about the team for the first time in a while, and we need to jump on board with both feet.

Keep #Beardsanity trending.

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Total comments: 34
  • tombrokeoff says 1 YEAR ago im with you, cooper, ive said it before and ill say it again. im not really a fan of mchale. idk what to make of him as a coach.
  • RocketMan says 1 YEAR ago Don't worry about Mike Brown. He did fine with Lebron when he had him. The team around Lebron was not a championship team. I know the Lakers are starting 4 Olympians (Gasol Counts), and one who would have played if it weren't for an epic elbow on James Harden, but they need a couple weeks to get themselves together. They are in no rush to win out the rest of their games. They just want to get to the playoffs and win best of 7 after that. It will be too difficult to guage McHale's performance this year because I'm not sure whether I want them to suck or to go all-out for the best possible record. Such a pain. If only the draft rewarded lesser teams for overachieving...
  • Cooper says 1 YEAR ago

    amacbrooks12, on 02 November 2012 - 02:50 AM said:


    Rockets are 1-0 , they haven't won their season opener in years . Mchale is not getting fired anytime soon , he starts Marcus Morris because he spreads the court with his ability to shoot .. which gives the guards room to penatrate .

    Mike Brown should get fired IMO

    Yeah maybe I just don't like mchale, but I don't think he's a very good coach and he hasn't won anywhere. Mike brown is gonna get fired he lets Kobe push him around too much and is just a generally bad coach he couldn't win before with lebron and now he has practialy 5 all stars and still can't do anything.
  • bboley24 says 1 YEAR ago As for my first post.... I second the Mike Brown retraction. I don't think a firing is order. He would make an excellent assistant coach. His defensive stance on the court is impeccable but the man defers to his assistance for drawing up plays on the offensive side of the ball. 5 allstars and he can draw a freakin' play to save his job.

    Got Rudy T.
  • amacbrooks12 says 1 YEAR ago Rockets are 1-0 , they haven't won their season opener in years . Mchale is not getting fired anytime soon , he starts Marcus Morris because he spreads the court with his ability to shoot .. which gives the guards room to penatrate .

    Mike Brown should get fired IMO
  • sircharles says 1 YEAR ago Fired? First game of the season.....
  • Cooper says 1 YEAR ago We need to add another backup pg/sg. Mchale should be fired if he starts Morris again and doesn't play any of the rookies.
  • tombrokeoff says 1 YEAR ago if our top guys can stay out of foul trouble and we can keep the TOs down, it will go a long way. hopefully the defense will come along better than it was for stretches last night.
  • Chichos says 1 YEAR ago A few impressions I got from watching the game were

    Asik needs to play in the low 30s to be most effective. He was completely wiped out a the end of the game. His style of play means McHale will have to watch his minutes, because he is holding nothing back.

    Our bench is atrocious. McHale said Morris had been practicing as a 3 and was not really comfortable as a 4. Mentioned he was out of position a few times. My guess is Morris was asked to play 4 since he was supposed to know that position better then the rookies. Lets hope Morris goes back to the 3.

    T Douglas can't initiate the offense. He can't, so we need a play maker to play with him on the wing (unless White takes some giant strides soon).

    Lin is still pressing at times, but for the most part I think he played well. He would have had 20 points if they called some fouls.

    Someone dangled a carrot in front of Craig Smith. He banged, competed, played hard, whatever phrase you like. But that kid did what he was supposed to do last night. If this is the Craig Smith we can expect going forward the backup 5 is set in stone.

    McHale will only play you if he thinks you know your sets. Every interview he complains about the guys who are out of position and the next game those guys get less time. I think the Rockets need to institute mandatory study halls and pop quizzes until the young guys get it right. Because if they don't get it right McHale won't play them.

    James Harden is the real. That guy is special, and our team has a punchers chance in every game he plays. If he can make this team believe in him we might just sneak into the playoffs.
  • sircharles says 1 YEAR ago delfino is perfect for a back up sg/sf

    im sure douglas will recover from this game, he had a lot of good games in NY.


    cook however should be benched for the remainder of the season, he shot a 3 that hit the back of the backboard....
  • Stephen says 1 YEAR ago I have LP and re-watched the 4Q on later replay and noticed vsomething I missed on original viewing that bodes well for the team.

    Harden had 34 points at the 10 minute mark in the $Q and ddn't score again til a minute or ywo left,when he drove and got the and-1.
    The Rockets run was made by other players set up by Harden,Lin and Parsons. Delfino raining threes,Smith and Asik down low and a few FTS by Lin and Parsons.
    In other words,if the defense overloads on Harden,the rest of the Rockets have shown they can score as well,so long as the ball moves.
    In other words,Harden doesn't have to feel pressure to carry the scoring late,he can "relax" and just play his game,knowing the rest of the team has his back.
  • bob schmidt says 1 YEAR ago I loved the game last night, a great glimpse at what may be in our future. Who wouldn't have been impresseed with Harden? My biggest concern lies in the composition of our overall roster....

    Every SF and guard played during the game, and our talent level at backup SG and PG is obvious. Douglas and Cook were anything but impressive. In addition, the Marcus Morris experiment seems to be over relating to him being a SF. If he is being considered a PF, we need to re-think our roster. To be a complete team, upgrades at SG backup and SF backup are needed. At this point, I am wondering why Douglas made the roster under any circumstance.

    My prediction is that our roster will look different in the near future. Based on last night's glimpse into the future, Douglas, Morris, and Cook would be at the end of my bench worrying more about the splinters in their collective backsides than possibly getting the call to get on the court...
  • sircharles says 1 YEAR ago asik has that reverse lay up down perfectly.

    morris looked absolutely terrible, botched easy lay ups, dropped open passes, couldnt shoot.

    they looked pretty sloppy most of the game but its the first game of the season and a different team than it was a few days ago.

    im excited for this season though
  • frogs07 says 1 YEAR ago Spectacular performance. It was refreshing to see Sports Center spotlight the Rockets and Harden's monster performance this morning getting ready for work.

    Also, I was very impressed with Asik's play and Smith's backup performance. Asik was relentless in either pulling boards or re-directing traffic and shots. Smith moved well in the low post on offense and his vision rewarded him with some easy lay ins/dunks.

    But one thing is for certain, for this team to compete regularly, they will definitely need another strong defensive presence in the front court. Asik absorped most of the pressure last night, and was pretty gassed at the final buzzer. He'll need someone else to assist him in anchoring the interior defense. In the west alone, their are teams stacked with low post weapons (Memphis, LA, Utah, San Antonio to name a few). Asik and Smith together was an interesting combination.

    Hopefully, Patrick Patterson and Terrence Jones can recover from their injuries soon and give us a deeper look into what current assets the Rockets have at the 4 to accomplish this. Patterson is in a contract year and has something to prove, while, TJ is aware of the positive attention he garnered from his pre-season play, and surely wants to capitalize on that.
  • Freebird says 1 YEAR ago I'm thankful for League Pass - it's the only way I get more than a game or 2 out here in ACC country. :)

    Agree - Douglas and Morris looked lost. Very out of sync. Even Harden/Lin looked out of sync at times, but then again, what do you expect after 2 practices? Smith looked decent, and Asik was better than I expected. Delphino looked good, too. They'll work it out.

    Perhaps while Pat is hurt, start Smith at the 4? Cole is an adequate center, and Morris on the second team with Cole might help them play off of each other. Kansas connection and all.

    Disappointed that Motie and Aldridge didn't play. Disappointed that Cook and Douglas DID play. But good determination by the squad, and great leadership by Harden, I thought. We'll see what changes McHale makes Friday. I know he put in some basic pick-n-roll plays for Harden - will he continue to modify the offensive style to fit our players' skillset? Hope so.
  • Stephen says 1 YEAR ago Re the rookies.
    Jones still has a bad ankle,so it's understandable that they kept him out.
    I'd rather the team held him out til he's healthy than rush him back and create a season long problem.
    White is waaay behind the others as a result of missing camp and showed nothing in his preseason minutes to justify anything other than emergency/blow-out minutes.
    Motie not playing was a surprise,but w/the trade the second unit became very scrambled and McHale may not have wanted Motie out there in his first game w/teammates he'd never worked w/before.

    PF will sort itself out when Pat and Jones get healthy.
    The bigger problems are back-up PG and to a degree back-up wings.
    Douglas has shown almost zero ability to run an offense,even the most basic pick-n-rolls the Rockets are running.
    The Livingston buy-out looks like a big mistake-unless it was a subtle cost-cutting measure and the Rockets bring him back after 72 hours on a min contract.

    As to developing players,I guess giving huge minutes to second year players in Morris,Smith is now not considered developing players,what w/them being aged vets and all.
  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago Douglas....good grief.
  • tombrokeoff says 1 YEAR ago i know its been 4 years since we've been to the playoffs and obviously les makes more $ if we get there and he would rather be there than not 10 times out of 10, but the big picture should be more important.
  • tombrokeoff says 1 YEAR ago ok yes youre right its totally on les and not morey, but i mean the expectations were higher last year, were they not??? is it playoffs or bust for les this year?? thats crazy if so.
  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago That's not a guarantee, really. He's been questioned achieving .500 last season, mainly because of that fall in the last stretch, so my guess is that he is not trusting Les to maintain him in the bench if he doesn't achieve us a respectable position this year, even if Morey tells him something, Les is the one writing the paychecks.
  • tombrokeoff says 1 YEAR ago

    ale11, on 01 November 2012 - 03:53 AM said:

    I know that McHale is more interested in winning and keeping his job rather than develop young players


    I totally agree with you that hes like any coach and wants to win / keep his job, BUT ... IMO, why in the hell is he worried about losing his job? Theres no way in hell that expectations should be so high for this team that not reaching them would mean loss of employment. If hes playing non-rookies that suck because hes worried about playing rookies and losing his job, then Morey needs to tell him, "look youre not going to lose your job for losing with jones, motie, white, machado, etc."
  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago Like I said, I only got to see the last quarter (I got home from work and fell asleep :S) so I saw no Douglas nor Morris. Maybe I'm wrong, but given that both Lin and Harden can drive the ball quite well to the basket, playing small could make some room inside and benefit both of them, also Asik can benefit from easy baskets, so that's a good strategy in my opinion, maybe play White who can pass the ball well. It's a valid alternative for those games Patterson is not available.

    Given what you said about Douglas, it was unfortunate to chose him over Livingston, but McHale or Morey must have their reasons. right now, we need to trust them that we are finally in the right direction and support the team, it's not time to do some balance. I honestly think McHale isn't right for us, but right now he is the coach and we should give him some credit, let's wait and see.
  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago I really didn't understand playing Morris at the 4. I guess McHale was inspired by all of the small ball Miami pulled out on opening night. But we persisted playing 1 in, 4 out even when Morris wasn't on the floor despite having 3 PFs sitting on the bench. I thought it really affected the team's spacing and general play - through the entire preseason they haven't played a minute of small ball, as far as I can remember. There were always two bigs on the floor.

    In this game there were quite a few possessions where the spacing around the three point line was horrible, and I think this was a direct consequence of that. It also meant the wing rotations looked horrible, because we don't have enough wings to properly play three at once. Cook looked terrible in his limited minutes (a three pointer off the side of the backboard? Oh dear), and we really need to get some minutes out of him with the second unit to spell Harden a bit. It was his ineffectualness that meant Harden ended up playing 44 minutes, a number that is unsustainable going forwards.
  • Bigtkirk says 1 YEAR ago Nice recap, but no mention of Greg Smith? He provided a nice spark in the 4th quarter and gave Asik a good rest for the stretch run.

    I continue to be skeptical that McHale is the right coach for this team. Morris neither deserved nor justified the minutes he received in this game and took away from the rookies.

    You say the Rockets have a thin bench, but the only way to make it stout is to give the rookies an opportunity. This is a season for development. Is McHale tuned into that reality?

    Back up point guard is a problem. Douglas looks like Johnny Flynn II.

    Keep up the god work.
  • Dunots says 1 YEAR ago

    Dan G, on 01 November 2012 - 05:26 AM said:


    I would agree with you if it were competent veterans playing in the rookies' stead but we are talking about Douglas and Morris. We no longer have good veterans such as Dragic for our backup PG and Scola as our starting PF to take the minutes away from rookies. Douglas was completely awful and Morris had a few nice baskets but was a liability on D. I have no problem with P-Pat taking time away from the rookies if he plays as well as he did in the preseason but a few more games with Douglas and Morris playing like they did and still no rookies, I will be screaming for Mchale's head.


    Yeah, I'm with you. The ongoing train wreck that was Morris and Douglas was pretty inexplicable. I really feel like McHale must have been proving some kind of a point, or making some kind of statement in the season opener. If I have to suffer through another game of those two, I'm going to.... to... keep watching games, honestly. But I'll be annoyed! If the bench is gonna suck, it can at least suck with a variety of prospects.

    The sad part is that Livingston looked great in the preseason. I guess he doesn't fit as well with Harden or his contract was unpalatable or something, but he's just... a much better player. Douglas didn't look horrible in preseason, though. Not like he did in Detroit. Please PLEASE get well, PatPat.
  • Dan G says 1 YEAR ago

    ale11, on 01 November 2012 - 03:53 AM said:


    I'm ok with McHale not playing the rookies today, they have to settle a bit first and it always easier to settle while winning, otherwise, playing them will burn them if we are losing. I know that McHale is more interested in winning and keeping his job rather than develop young players (and maybe he doesn't want to even if he is winning) but it's not just throw them in any circumstances and see if they come through.

    Great win, nice start!


    I would agree with you if it were competent veterans playing in the rookies' stead but we are talking about Douglas and Morris. We no longer have good veterans such as Dragic for our backup PG and Scola as our starting PF to take the minutes away from rookies. Douglas was completely awful and Morris had a few nice baskets but was a liability on D. I have no problem with P-Pat taking time away from the rookies if he plays as well as he did in the preseason but a few more games with Douglas and Morris playing like they did and still no rookies, I will be screaming for Mchale's head.
  • Brookaveli says 1 YEAR ago For those who couldn't watch the game... NBA League Pass has a free trial going on right now through 11/6. That will at least get you through Atlanta and Portland.
  • Brookaveli says 1 YEAR ago Harden was amazing; Lin was quietly brilliant. I'm sold on both of these guys as well as Asik. He looked nimble and is going to get a lot of chip shots off of Lin/Harden drives.

    Douglas, on the other hand, was horrible. The first thing I did after the game was go for the ESPN box score to see if it provided evidence of just how bad Douglas was at running the team tonight:
    Lin 23
    Douglass -14

    That is quite a swing!
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago I am pissed I cound not see this game. they have got to work out something on this tv carrier bullsh%t. had to rely on the radio, but still a great win.
  • marroncito says 1 YEAR ago every time they came out to double Harden, Asik drifted toward the basket. they left a lot of easy dunks out there on the court.

    hopefully they look to him to make them pay when they double.

    could Smith be the other half of the pick
  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago I only got to see the last quarter, but I liked what I saw. Harden proved that this is his show now, and money aside, that's what he was looking for when he came here. I loved Delfino's accuracy, it killed Pistons' morale and having Harden around would make Lin to chill a bit a cut down the turnovers, since we have another playmaker to give the ball when he is heavily guarded.

    I'm ok with McHale not playing the rookies today, they have to settle a bit first and it always easier to settle while winning, otherwise, playing them will burn them if we are losing. I know that McHale is more interested in winning and keeping his job rather than develop young players (and maybe he doesn't want to even if he is winning) but it's not just throw them in any circumstances and see if they come through.

    Great win, nice start!
  • amacbrooks12 says 1 YEAR ago great great great win for the team , and good performances from Jeremy Lin , Omer Asik , Carlos Delfino , and Greg Smith . And especially an amazing performance from Harden , nobody saw 37 points coming from him on his rockets' debut ( especially since there were only two practices ) . My only worries are , playing time for our rookies . We all know Mchale well , we all know he wants to win more than he wants the rookies to develop through PT , and that showed tonight . I really hope Jones gets the start next game , and I hope he gives some minutes off the bench for Motie and White . Another situation that I worry about is when Jeremy Lin and James Harden are off the floor . When Jeremy Lin was in foul trouble and Harden was finally getting some rest , the rockets offense looked disgusting and we looked worst than the bobcats/ magic . This is why Royce White needs to get PT off the bench , so he can be the playmaker for the second unit because nobody that comes off the bench can create their own shot . Nobody on the bench can even set up their teammates well ( Tony Douglass is a scoring PG ) . So this is why Mchale needs to give PT to White , especially since White has great court vision and a pass first mentality . But other than that , what a great win for us and I am so proud of the rockets . Now I want us to win as many games as we can to make the playoffs because its hard not to root for this team .
  • pimpfriedrice says 1 YEAR ago I don't think we're so much thin on the bench as McHale is unwilling to play our rookie 4s right now. Two of White, Jones, and Moti could be our first two players off the bench. I was disappointed to not see Jones play tonight, especially given what Morris showed. I think Jones will be the starter before long.
  • tombrokeoff says 1 YEAR ago great recap!!!! awesome 4th to pull out the W!!! heres to hoping we see Jones soon. GO ROCKETS!! Beardsanity!

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