The Rockets Daily – February 14, 2014

Mamba Out, Beard In - Yahoo is reporting this morning that James Harden has been named starter for this weekend’s All-Star game.  As we covered before, Harden was the logical choice.  He will start alongside Steph Curry in the backcourt, with Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant making up the frontcourt.  West coach Scott Brooks made the right choice.

Mike and Mike, Rockets Edition - Wednesday morning Coach Kevin McHale was a guest on Mike and Mike, in which they talked about Greenie and Golic playing in the Celebrity All-Star game, Dwight Howard’s progress and the difficulties of preparing for Kevin Durant.

This morning, James Harden joined the guys for a public taping from New Orleans.  Topics included the complications of owning such an epic beard, how injuries have affected the Rockets’ season so far and whether Durant has ascended to LeBron’s level.

Stat Geekery -

This isn’t Rockets’ news per se, but if you’re into the nerdier side of following the NBA, this is a pretty cool development.  That is, if you like knowing things like the average speed Jeremy Lin played at, or how many touches Dwight Howard had, or how many rebound chances Terrence Jones received.

The fact is, this is the way front offices are watching and evaluating basketball these days and for fans who like to stay as informed as possible on which players do what and why, these stats provide that window.  Nice job by NBA.com.

View this discussion from the forum.

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Total comments: 16
  • thenit says 6 months ago

    Harden is not a huge volume shooter or a ballhog in any sense. His game is fine, but needs to be tweaked with a few minor changes that I think Rahat has alluded to in his podcast. The biggest issue is when he takes the ball at the top of the arc and makes stepbacks and dribbling the shot clock down until 3 seconds left and passes it off for the other wing player to take a contended 3.

    Its not a huge problem but it happens 2-3 times a game, and at those times I wish he either pass off the ball with a few more seconds left of the clock or pass it off and try to find seems instead of just letting the clock ticking away.

  • Texan Ensemble says 6 months ago

    I hope I eat crow too, please believe me when I say that. I am no less a fan of the Rockets just because I don't think James Harden is not a championship leader.

    The real litmus test for Houston is between Feb 26th-March 16th where our schedule gets very tough: at Clippers, vs Pistons, vs Heat, at Orlando, vs Pacers, vs Portland, at OKC, at Bulls, at Heat.

  • BrentYen says 6 months ago

    The next few games can be a very good gauge on this team, can not wait to see it.

  • feelingsupersonic says 6 months ago No I wasn't directing it at you txtdo but hey fans have a right to that opinion it just doesn't make much sense in my opinion. Changes don't occur overnight and I agree these Rockets are ahead of schedule. I am glad all these overly negative fans who think of themselves as Rockets fans weren't here a couple years ago, those were dark days.

    To think we have two All Stars (one who is just entering his prime and the other plagued by countless doubters has turned into the healthiest most dependable big man in basketball on both sides of the court, the best center in the NBA this year), the third cede and are beginning to click about 50 games in with a new team (unlike any other contender or second teir contender) I have to say I would have taken that in a second if offered that before the season started. It's a great time to be a Rockets fan!
  • NorEastern says 6 months ago

    Harden improves the Rockets immensely. He is after all the best SG in the NBA, and one of the most efficient scoring threats in the league. Without Harden the Rockets IMHO would still make the playoffs, but would certainly be first round road kill. With Harden the Rockets currently have the fifth best record in the NBA and, if healthy, will probably romp in the first round over a third tier WC team like Dallas or the Warriors. Night and day.

    It amazes me that people still complain about McHale. He has complete buy in from the players and has very successfully implemented Morey's vision of how the NBA game should be played. Oh, and there was that misdirection play at the end of the Wizards game. A thing of beauty.

  • txtdo1411 says 6 months ago

    Come on guys Harden has always shared the ball since his days in OKC. In actuality Harden creates scoring opportunities for teammates, always has. Some Rockets fans crack me up.

    Not sure if this is to me, but with guys being plural that means you see more than just Texan saying he doesn't share the ball. The only other post is mine, so I guess it was semi-directed at me. If it wasn't than disregard lol.

    If so I must have completely messed up the message I was trying to convey, because that's not at all what I was trying to say. I just think recently we have seen a great improvement of Harden not working so hard to get his. It is coming more naturally within the offense. Our starters FGA are starting to even out a little bit more, and we are creating some nice balance to the offense. Harden and our team are developing at a rate I am very satisfied with. We have exceeded my expectations so far, even if it hasn't always been pretty.

  • thejohnnygold says 6 months ago

    James Harden's response to this:

    tumblr_lcrb2geqYw1qbqce1o1_500.gif

  • feelingsupersonic says 6 months ago Come on guys Harden has always shared the ball since his days in OKC. In actuality Harden creates scoring opportunities for teammates, always has. Some Rockets fans crack me up.
  • txtdo1411 says 6 months ago

    Actually I do see the Rockets as a championship quality team. People tend to give to much weight to the Wizards game. Anytime a player goes off for seven straight threes in a five minute time span you know you are going to be watching a dog fight of a game.

    The Rockets are playing as well as any team in the NBA right now. Asik is coming back, so the second team should improve immensely. The power forward position is coming together nicely, and the defense D-Mo is playing is like a breath of fresh air. And with Howard playing so well the opponents are going to send more and more double teams his way. This is looking like what I envisioned at the beginning of the season.

    There is no team that the Rockets cannot beat in a seven game series. A few teams like OKC and IND would be favored in the series, but not many. And the Rockets have 29 games left to work on improving. Doesn't get much better than this.

    Couldn't have said it better. We definitely aren't on the OKC, SA, IND, or MIA tier, but I feel we are in the next tier and still improving.

    Remember the Memphis game where Parsons went nuts? I thought we had no business being in that game, but we had a shooter get hot and make it extremely close. I look at that Wizards game in a similar light. They were in a game they really shouldn't have been in, but had a hot shooter. I am just thankful we were able to come away with the win.

  • txtdo1411 says 6 months ago

    Texan, I will maybe give you the Bucks game. Harden had a pretty bad night shooting 9-21 from the field, and only had 22 pts with 3 assists. One interesting point about that game is he was active on the defensive end coming up with 4 steals. The Twolves game Harden shot a pretty bad 4-14 from the field. He did go 50% from 3 shooting 3-6, and he also distributed the ball nicely. He still had 19 pts on those 14 shots, and for the "sticky" ball hog, he took the same amount of shots as Parsons. The thing I thought that was a positive for this game was the flow and balance of the offense. All the starters had at least 11 shot attempts. Howard had 13, and Jones and Bev had 11. That means our go to guy is distributing the ball, and picking his moments within the flow of the offense... shots just didn't fall. The Wizards game I feel I don't even need to examine. He had 35 points on 14 shots (with 16-16 FT). He also had 6 assists again working within the flow of the offense, and not forcing it.

    My eyes have told me the last few games that Harden... well all of our players, have been trying to share the ball and have more flow to the offense. Obviously you see it different, but regardless we have been playing some pretty good ball. We beat a solid Wizards team which has beaten some good teams lately, with 25 turnovers and Ariza going James Anderson on us. I'll take a 7 game win streak, and enjoy the team chemistry seemingly on the rise, despite what you see. I see us actually hitting on lob passes to Jones and Howard now, and I see things coming more natural on the offensive end. Still really bad stretches, but c'mon they have been together for a little over half a season.

    The "never becoming a championship team with Harden and McHale" is EXTREMELY premature. Were you also saying the Heat would never win one after they struggled through their first 52 games together (they were 38-14) at this point in their first season. I really hope you eat crow on this one.

  • NorEastern says 6 months ago

    Actually I do see the Rockets as a championship quality team. People tend to give to much weight to the Wizards game. Anytime a player goes off for seven straight threes in a five minute time span you know you are going to be watching a dog fight of a game.

    The Rockets are playing as well as any team in the NBA right now. Asik is coming back, so the second team should improve immensely. The power forward position is coming together nicely, and the defense D-Mo is playing is like a breath of fresh air. And with Howard playing so well the opponents are going to send more and more double teams his way. This is looking like what I envisioned at the beginning of the season.

    There is no team that the Rockets cannot beat in a seven game series. A few teams like OKC and IND would be favored in the series, but not many. And the Rockets have 29 games left to work on improving. Doesn't get much better than this.

  • feelingsupersonic says 6 months ago

    My fault for not being more clear. Not only are we not a championship team right now, but as constructed I do not see us becoming one. We will never become a championship team with Harden as our floor general and McHale as our coach.


    Ohhhhh, well yeah that clears up a lot. Good luck with all that.





    Anyway...
  • Cooper says 6 months ago There's no logical basis to the rockets or any team being better without their second best player.
  • Texan Ensemble says 6 months ago

    My fault for not being more clear. Not only are we not a championship team right now, but as constructed I do not see us becoming one. We will never become a championship team with Harden as our floor general and McHale as our coach.

  • feelingsupersonic says 6 months ago Texan, of course the Rockets are not a championship team right now. What kind of informed fan would realistically think that. Come on man, get it together.

    Thanks Felker your work has been great and the transition from Eby to your work on the dailies has been seamless. Enjoy a few days off if you can over the break. Thanks for all your efforts.
  • Texan Ensemble says 6 months ago

    I never have liked All Star breaks because it means no real basketball for a week. This year though its even more annoying because the Rockets are on a 7 game winning streak. Some would argue that us allowing a 19 pt lead to vanish and almost lose to the Wizards is a sign we needed some rest, but we have been blowing large leads all year long.

    As excited as I am about this Rockets team by our record, the play of multiple individual Rockets and the potential we have collectively...I just do not see a championship team on the floor right now. I am a firm believer in the eye test, and my eyes tell me that we just are not there. We are not consistent enough, we do not have that killer instinct to put teams away.

    Lastly, James Harden got a lot of love and praise after his Euro Step game winning layup, but lets not forget his overall play the entire year. Yes, he is a great player, but I honestly feel we are better without him and would be in that next tier of teams if we had a true PG to go along with Lin, Beverly and Brooks instead of Harden. The three games prior to the Wizards game, Harden shot 17-45 for 37%...you just can not do that on back to back nights, he does it a lot. Also, over the past 15 games, Harden has been the leading scorer in just two of those games...and not only is he supposed to our teams main man on offense, but it is his offense that everyone uses to excuse his poor defense (10 three pointers by Ariza) and average play-making skills in regards to making others around him better on offense.

    I would not be so hard on Harden if he was our second or third best player, but he is supposed to be THE GUY for us, the one to carry us to the promised land. His offensive numbers are great, but there are many players who have great offensive numbers...but unlike most of those other guys, Harden has a superb supporting cast. Its my opinion that the sum is always greater than the parts, and Harden is not the right fit for the part he has been cast to play on this team. Its like if you had cast someone other than Tim Robbins to play Andy Dufrense in The Shawshank Redemption...the movie would still be a good movie, but not the all time great that you stop and watch every time it plays on AMC no matter where in the movie you catch it.

    I hope I am wrong. I cheer for Harden and the Rockets no less every single night.