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Recap: Houston Rockets 109, New York Knicks 96

Before anything is discussed, it should be remembered that Carmelo Anthony sat out tonight with an injured left ankle.  To earn a win, even a blowout win which was over by the nine-minute mark, against a team who started Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Ronnie Brewer, Chris Copeland (whom I had never heard of before tonight, but was absolutely fantastic both during the game and garbage time with 29 points ), and Tyson Chandler is hardly a tremendous accomplishment.

That said, tonight can described by one statistic.  By the end of the third quarter, at which point the Rockets led by 23, Jeremy Lin had eight assists.  The New York Knicks had nine.

While New York did finish with the lead at the end of the first quarter, they scored 31 points off of contested jumpers and JR Smith having one of his hot moments while Houston drove to the lane.  Over the rest of the game, those points dried up for them and Houston ran away with the lead for the rest of the game.  While the Knicks did come scarily close to come within five at the 6:18 mark thanks to Houston not making a field goal with until the 6 minute mark, the Rockets responded to that offensive drought with a tear from the three-point line and the paint which created a 15-0 run that effectively ended the game.

After his absolutely miserably performance yesterday against Toronto, Lin rebounded for his best game of the season.  No, he didn’t score more points (though he had a splendid 22) and it wasn’t comparable to his past Linsanity stretches like that game against San Antonio was.  But Linsanity was never going to be the prime focus of a good Houston team, especially after the James Harden deal.  As I wrote yesterday, Lin, as the less talented player, would need to be the one who would need to learn to work with Harden rather than the other way around.  And tonight, for perhaps the first game this year, Harden and Lin seemed to be comfortable working with one another, something which is a thousand times more important towards winning than Linsanity. The pair drove to the lane, collected fouls (including a flagrant 1 when Tyson Chandler inadvertently elbowed Lin in the face), and Harden made his jumpers.  While Lin did not, he dished the ball off to one of Houston’s three point shooters or a bumbling Asik who stood next to the rim.

One game does not a process finish, and there will be plenty of moments where the two ball-dominant wings struggle to work together in the future, just like Mr. Wade and James did when they joined force in South Beach.  But if there was anything which should have been taken away from tonight, it is that just like the San Antonio game proved Lin’s talent, tonight’s game showed the ability of him and Harden to work together.

  • New York fans are just weird.  To capture the mood of one of the largest cities in the globe on something as controversial as Lin’s free agent signing is something no one had done before tonight, and thus I legitimately wondered how the crowd would view their former hero.  They cheered Lin when he was announced, booed him somewhat when he actually took the floor, and became ever more raucous and noisy as Lin demonstrated his talent and why they had fallen in love with him.  However, as he finally departed the court with a few minutes left in the game, the crowd cheered once more.  Through that ugly, at times hilarious saga that was Lin’s signing with the Rockets, it is absolutely clear that Lin at the end of the day had hoped to resign with the Knicks, but James Dolan and James Dolan alone chose not to match at the last minute.  Whether the signing was a good contract or not, Lin should be held blameless for that sordid mess and it was good to see that some New York fans understood this at the end.
  • I do apologize for this article seemingly being entirely about Lin, but it is the story for tonight’s game.  Still, aside from poor shooting by Parsons, including a botched open layup in the first quarter, and Asik being repeatedly outmuscled by Chandler and finishing with merely 2 rebounds, no Rocket played poorly tonight.  It is really great to see consistent greatness from Harden, accurate three point shooting from Morris and Delfino and even Douglas doing….well, whatever Douglas is doing.
  • One field where I disagree with Rahat and many other Rockets fans is on the importance of playing time for development.  I do not believe in the idea that giving a young player minutes and the ball just in the name of development is a smart move, as from my experience with sports, the meet or the game is not where you go to learn how to do something.   It’s where you execute everything you’ve gone through with constant drills and practices.  Morris had a season where he barely played off, and while there are times where you wonder if he will be alright, no one can deny that he significantly improved since his rookie season.  Patterson’s case is also similar, as he did not receive consistent minutes in his rookie campaign until around January or February.  Consequently, while I may personally not like when Terrence Jones barely plays even the midst of garbage time, it is not something which I actually think affects our season one way or the other.  If Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, or another rookie who seems to think that he deserves playing time off the bat showcases themselves well in practice, they will earn minutes.  That is the proper way to teach good habits and attitudes to survive in this league.

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About the author: Write for a living, though not in sports. Been following the Rockets my whole life, with Stockton’s shot being my first memory. Consequently traumatized.

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  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago Like Bob said, Asik's stats didn't impress anyone, but he hustled with Chandler and prevented him from taking lots of rebounds, which made the rest take them, since they seemed more active that their Knicks' counterpart. It's all about hustle, and that's why we are bandwagoning for Smith, praising for Morris' development from his rookie season, and starting to accept Douglas as a competent part of the rotation (not sure if he should be the primary backup PG, but he deserves some minutes for sure), because they hustle, they want to play and let's face it, NO ONE expected us to be at .500 right now, correct me if I'm wrong. We have all been surprised by our team's performance so far, let's not get carried away. Right now, our only two problems are the logjam on the PF withour really knowing if White is ever coming back and stablishing chemistry, mostly between Lin and Harden. The Beard is going to be productive, almost great most of the nights, but we need Lin to be consistently confident and capable of running an offense without feeling he must be the primary option.

    Sir Thursday, on 18 December 2012 - 11:23 AM said:

    It also seemed like Lin was penetrating along the baseline a lot more often than I've seen him do in the past. The Rockets used that backdoor play really nicely early in the season but I hadn't seen it for 10-15 games, so it was nice to see it make a reappearance tonight (although IIRC there was at least one instance where the Knicks used it themselves to good effect!)


    Those 10-15 games were coached by Sampson, and we all know he was more interested in winning games more than anything. That team had almost no defense and the offense ran through The Beard most of the time, now that McHale is back we should expect to see a more democratic offense, which is the best interest for us as a whole, and not pushing Harden to a scoring title.
  • bob schmidt says 1 YEAR ago It seemed to me that Harden and Lin had a plan that they would take turns, to a degree, leading the attack from the top of the key. A number of times Harden passed to Lin and then moved to a position on the low key three point line and waited for Lin to handle the ball and penetrate or pick and roll. By the same token, on some plays Lin passed to Harden and then ran the floor to the baseline and cut across the restricted zone creating movement which Harden used to penetrate.

    The point is that they seemed to be comfortable "taking turns" being the focal point of the attack. It was a much better flowing offense than trying to force the ball low into the post only to see it stripped as often as not. Incidentally, while Asik's numbers looked way off, he greatly disrupted Chandler's shots and contested the rim successfullyl. The whole team actively pursued for rebounds, and took many of Asik's potential rebounds. I thought that he played well, despite a lousy looking stat line at game's end.
  • amacbrooks12 says 1 YEAR ago I think I was the only one on this forum that watched this game in HD tv due to the fact that I live in New York myself. It was an amazing game to watch, but it was beautiful seeing Harden and Lin both playing well together. Its games like this that make me believe in Lin, games like this make me believe Lin will figure out how to co-exist with Harden. There's so much to say about how well we played and how fun it was to watch the game but Paul pretty much said what had to be said.

    To answer Rahat's question, it was a combination of both. To open the game up the coaching staff ran a back door play for Lin and had him coming off screens quite a few times throughout the game ( something they haven't done all season ) . Lin was being very aggressive by driving, being less passive, and taking more shots so it was also Lin's effort that helped him performed the way he did. By the way, Harden also chipped in to Lin's performance even though he only had 3 assist. I noticed Harden gave up several shots he normally takes to let Lin go isolation or to let him make plays. Either way, whatever combinations or reasons you want to use to explain Lin's performance, it was a great game by our back court and I hope they finally figured it out.
  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago Didn't watch this game, so a question to those who did: was Lin's performance more a product of effort from himself or a coaching adjustment to help get him better involved?
  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago I thought we played excellently tonight, and there were some great coaching decisions that helped that happen. The one in particular that I noticed was that the players had obviously been told to go under every single Felton pick-and-roll. It seems that irrespective of where he is on the court, if you go under a pick on Felton he will shoot it. It was like clockwork, and most of the shots were inefficient long 2s. Even though Felton made quite a few of them to start with, it completely disrupted the flow of the Knicks' offence. They were no longer getting penetration to free up their outside shooters, and the ball was stopping in Felton's hands. Eventually his shots stopped falling and the Knicks went into a slump.

    It also seemed like Lin was penetrating along the baseline a lot more often than I've seen him do in the past. The Rockets used that backdoor play really nicely early in the season but I hadn't seen it for 10-15 games, so it was nice to see it make a reappearance tonight (although IIRC there was at least one instance where the Knicks used it themselves to good effect!)

  • tombrokeoff says 1 YEAR ago didnt read it but glad we won
  • Sam says 1 YEAR ago dude, this is terrible writing. this quality of work truly makes me respect the blog a little less. concepts are alright but the sentences just don't flow. i couldn't finish the article all the way through.
  • Jeby says 1 YEAR ago Call me over-optimistic, but I don't think the Rockets beat the Knicks because Carmelo was out. They won because the Knicks (except for Melo's replacement) couldn't buy a three. A team that has been winning off of taking and making a ton of threes went 9/31 from downtown.
    I didn't get to see the game, but I'm going to assume from past experience that NY didn't miss those shots because Houston did just such a great job of closing out on shots.
    Lin got in their heads. He owns the deed to MSG, and they know it.
  • Red94 says 1 YEAR ago New post: Recap: Houston Rockets 109, New York Knicks 96

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