No Kawhi Leonard. No Stephen Jackson. No San Antonio player played over 26 minutes tonight.
And this game was over with 10 minutes left to go in the 4th quarter.
If anything could serve as a punctuation to show how far Houston has to go to reach the promised land of contention, tonight was it. San Antonio, to me, isn’t really great because of its players. Oh, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and everyone else are excellent, but it’s the concept of discipline, unity, and a willingness to work together that has made the Spurs the pinnacle of basketball excellence for almost the last decade and a half. Tonight, their ball movement and execution were as good as normal. At the 10 minute mark when they led by 30, San Antonio had 28 assists to 12 turnovers, while Houston had 17 assists to 16 turnovers. On a normal night, that alone would be enough for the Spurs to ensure the victory.
But that wasn’t all there was to it. The Spurs got to the paint when they wanted (more on that later), rebounded, hit their open jumpers, and largely did whatever they felt like to this young, inexperienced squad. Mr. Duncan forced Asik into easily his worst game of the season, as he began with a stretch of powerful rebounds that almost seemed to intimidate our center throughout the game. Harden had a spectacular night with 29 points on 16 shots as his mid-range jumper returned and he drove to the line throughout the first half, but it was clear almost from the opening tipoff that he would be playing virtually alone against one of the best players in the league. And if a 22 year old Lebron James, five years ago, couldn’t win a game in the NBA Finals against this seemingly timeless behemoth of basketball skill and dominance, I doubt James Harden could either.
Otherwise, as a whole, there’s just not much that can be said about tonight’s game. The Spurs executed and made jumpers. The Rockets were sloppy, disorganized, turned the ball over as they have done all season long, failed to take the ball inside, and thus got completely blown out. Was this embarrassing? Perhaps. But more than anything, teams need moments like this, especially after a crazy game like against the Lakers, to calm them down and see where they need to improve.
- The time has come, the blogger said, to talk of many things.
Of shots – and fouls – and clutch buckets –
And whether Jeremy Lin will get around to hitting a jumper sometime.
For tonight’s record, the answer is “no.” Lin did not hit anything outside the paint tonight, which continues a fairly disturbing trend of ineffectiveness on offense without the ball, especially since Harden is just that much better at it. While role forests at this point have been used to describe the relationship between Lin and Harden, Lin will need to adjust and adapt in that field if he is to justify the large contract that Morey gave him this summer.
- Over the last 8 games, Marcus Morris’s field goal percentage has been a horrifying 27%, and he finally hit his first field goal this month. I know that many are perfectly willing to shunt Morris aside for younger and more fascinating player in Jones and Motiejunas, but I think a moment needs to be taken to emphasize that this is not a good thing for Houston’s playoff hopes in the slightest. During the timeframe of Delfino’s injury, Morris had quickly established himself as the primary scorer for Houston’s incredibly thin bench, and had also served to stretch the floor out when playing alongside the starters so that Lin, Harden, and Parsons could drive in and dish and finish as they pleased. The rookies may be more interesting, but there is a lot to worry about whether they will be ready on both ends on the floor if they receive rotation minutes. It should be noted that Terrence Jones took and made a 3 during garbage time, but I cannot stress how unconfident I am in that shot thanks to his peculiar release. While Kevin Martin in his time may have shown that one does not always need to possess an orthodox form in order to shoot, he is the exception to the rule, and it should be noted that Jones’s release is rather slow unlike Martin. Regardless, all Houston fans should definitely hope that Morris returns to being the good scorer he was, purely for the betterment of this team.
- Daequan Cook did get injured with…something tonight ( I didn’t hear the details because I would rather not listen to San Antonio’s dreadful announcers). However, a moment should be taken, regardless of how severe his injury is, to observe that Cook is really, really bad at this basketball thing, as he certainly likes to chuck. Perhaps that may be the norm in garbage time, but I had hoped Cook could serve as a stop up 3 point shooter alongside Harden when we acquired him. I doubt that is likely to happen any time soon.