Chill Pill – Via the team’s official site, McHale is making adjustments, he thinks the problems that led to the 29-point game 1 blowout are correctable, and he has faith in Jeremy Lin:
“After spending the year with (Jeremy Lin), I feel his best attribute is his toughness. He’s going to bounce back and play hard tomorrow. I’m not worried about that at all. It’s the first game, a lot of stuff happened. He’ll play better and we’ll all play better.
“He’s a tough kid who’s bounced back many times this year. Everybody has bad games. He’ll bounce back and play better.”
I was a little shocked to see how relaxed McHale seemed during his post-practice interview. I don’t know if that’s because the Rockets have nothing to lose but pride by being demolished by the no. 1 seed, or because–as he points out–in his playing days the Celtics destroyed teams which then came back to beat them the very next day.
Also, Terrence Jones addressed media after practice, while Greg Smith did not. Read into that what you will. Hopefully Smith was too busy practicing closeouts on corner threes.
Always A Bridesmaid – As the Houston Chronicle reports, Asik, Harden and Parsons were all in the top 10 in voting for the Most Improved Player Award, which ultimately went to a well-deserving Paul George.
On Leadership – Sports Illustrated will be running a much-ballyhooed profile on Kevin Durant in a coming issue, which Ben Golliver previewed at The Point Forward. Of some significance to Rockets fans, as I’ll explain in a moment, are Durant’s comments on leadership:
Previously, if power forward Serge Ibaka blew a box-out, Durant would tell him, “It’s O.K. You’re going to get it next time.” But the stakes had risen. “You want to get to the Finals again, and you think everything should be perfect, and it’s not,” Durant says. “So I’d scream at him and pump my fist.”
Durant goes on to talk about “positive energy,” but the point is clear: it’s not just a game anymore. I can’t help of thinking about James Harden’s visible frustration with Omer Asik’s stone-handed inability to catch passes when reading that quote. It’s hard not to think that much of what Harden thinks about being a franchise player was learned from Durant. But the difference between the Harden-Asik relationship and the Durant-Ibaka relationship seems significant. Durant can bark at teammates with whom he has established trust and friendship over several years.
For the Rockets, that relationship is still taking root. The pressure of playoff series like this one has the potential to strengthen those bonds, or create cracks that become fissures as the team grows. As Phil Jackson said, “There’s more to basketball than basketball.”
Losers – That’s how Zach Lowe at Grantland categorizes Houston’s defense. He breaks down their breakdowns from Sunday’s game, then adds this disclaimer:
Houston isn’t ready for this, and that’s fine; this is Year 1 of a long-term project, and the Rockets are ahead of schedule.
It sounds like Lowe and McHale are drinking the same Drank about Houston’s struggles.
Hypothetical Genius – Ballerball has some fun with Daryl Morey’s CBA wizardry:
Morey plans to sign the stars to five “Quarter-Length” contracts. This means that, for five quarters in the series, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will play for the Houston Rockets.
“There is nothing in the CBA that says we can’t,” says Morey.
Morey plans to front load the first two quarters so it does not affect the cap.
“I love the city of Houston, The Dream, and Phi Slamma Jamma. I just want to help this team win a couple of quarters,” Durant was quoted as saying.
“Houston, we have a Westbrook!” Westbrook tweeted early Monday Morning.
In the immortal words of Steven Tyler, “dream on.”
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