With Michael Beasley playing like this, it is a shame that the Houston Rockets did not get him sooner.
As I noted earlier, I do expect Beasley to fall off from how he is currently playing and start missing those mid-range jumpers. But tonight, he absolutely carried the Rockets in the 4th quarter, scoring every point for Houston in relevant playing time. And while he did take and make a lot of long 2’s, he also made some great moves inside, such as a play in the 4th quarter where he spun out of a double team for an easy layup.
But as great as Beasley was on the offensive end, there were moments on the defensive end where it was clear that he did not know what he was doing. You could see him speaking with Dwight Howard on the defensive end during dead ball moments about where to go, and Beasley is too small to easily guard Al Horford or Paul Millsap. If Beasley had been with the Rockets from the start, he would have more time to learn where to go when playing defense.
Though it is not like that additional time has helped any of the other Rockets. Because while Beasley and James Harden did their thing on offense, poor defensive rotations and sloppy turnovers against one of the best passing and transition teams in the league will lead to disaster. And that is what cost Houston this game.
The turnovers in particular were bad. The Rockets finished with 15 assists to 17 turnovers, and must have one of the worst assist/turnover ratios in the NBA. If that was not bad enough, the Rockets found themselves down 95-100 with 2:32 left in the game, had one last chance to make a comeback…and then turned the ball over three straight times. The Hawks scored on all three chances, and that was that.
Beasley gave up one of those turnovers, and Harden had the other two. But what is so frustrating about these turnovers is how silly they are. Harden’s turnovers came from him trying to force the bounce pass through two defenders, and we see that go badly happen all the time. Turnovers are bad enough, but when they become live-ball turnovers which let the opposing team run over this slow Rockets team, it becomes even worse.
Harden had 25 points, but it did not feel nearly as intimidating as Beasley’s 30, who scored on double teams and even hit a Dirk-style one legged fadeaway. Motiejunas also came out strong in the first quarter and took Houston to an early lead. But aside from those three players, no one on the Rockets easily scored tonight. Dwight Howard could not finish in the rim ( though he banked in two straight free throws), which is interesting given what he was caught doing.
The Stickum incident
In the first quarter, Dwight Howard was caught applying Stickum (an adhesive substance) to the ball. The referee caught it, told Howard that Stickum is illegal, and that was that. However, the NBA is reviewing the incident.
While I suppose it is possible that NBA centers would use Stickum regularly to better catch the ball, the better question is: what was Dwight thinking? According to the linked article, the referees noticed it because Millsap was complaining that the ball was stickier than normal, and you would suppose that anyone else, referee or playeer, would have noticed it. If this is cheating, this is certainly bad. But it is even worse given how blatantly obvious it must be.
Maybe Dwight just applies it regularly to his hands and used more than normal. Whatever the case, do not be surprised if the NBA suspends Howard for a game or so for this incident.
The Rockets are back to .500 again, with their next game against the Oklahoma City on Tuesday. They have only 12 games left in this season, and yet this team will probably fall to a sub .500 record this late in the season. It is just another notch on the mark of this disappointing team which plays no defense and turns the ball over far too often.