Cleveland Cavaliers 91, Houston Rockets 77: Exciting new ways to fail

What if told you that the Rockets held the Cleveland Cavaliers to 91 points on the evening, 39% shooting from the field and a horrific 23% from three point range? Well, since the Rockets have had the fourth-best offense since the start of December, that sounds like a juicy win on ESPN. Actually, the Rockets lost by 14, and it was 20 before garbage time began. The Cavs were on the second night of a rough road back to back, losing a tight one to the San Antonio Spurs the night before. It didn’t matter. The Rockets would have lost to literally any team in the league. You have to hit shots to win games.

“Nobody can hit anything” was the losing formula for the early part of the season, and it reared its ugly head in spectacular fashion tonight. James Harden took 10 shots. He hit 2 of them. 0 for 5 from downtown. His 8 (EIGHT!) turnovers worked against his 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and a block. His disappointing 11 points did nothing to spice up that line. Harden’s play is the soul of the offense, and tonight that soul looked damned.

Of course, everyone else chipped in, too. Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, Corey Brewer. Terrence Jones, Jason Terry and Marcus Thornton combined for 39 points on 15-51 shooting. Ty Laswon played for 6 minutes and logged one foul and no other stats. Nobody could do anything on offense, and if the Cavs weren’t bone tired, they would have been punished a lot worse on defense.

This was a bad game. There was nothing good about it except for Patrick Beverley, who scored 13 points on 8 shots and 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Wait, actually his left leg was injured in the last last three minutes of the game. Nope, there was nothing good there. Donatas Motiejunas can’t return soon enough.

Now that they’ve been publicly shamed yet again and are the laughingstock of the league yet again, they can presumably return to their nightmare cycle of winning a few games, making gradual improvement, then throwing it all back in the toilet again. Perhaps they can finish the season with the ultimate not-one-nor-the-other record, 41 and 41. Maybe they will be swiftly and mercifully destroyed by the Spurs in the first round, a team that will at least not gloat in your destruction.

No, that’s not this Rockets team. They might end up 41-41, but they certainly won’t make things simple. Whatever the most confusing demise is, they will seek it out like a tragic hero in an ancient Mesopotamian legend. The only thing we know about this Rockets team is that we know nothing about how they will disappoint, only that they will disappoint us sooner or later.

Tonight they faked the world out, playing well and making shots for the first few minutes, long enough to fly out to a 13-4 lead. Then everything cratered, the shots stopped falling, and the general effort slumped. When the going gets tough, the Rockets feel frustrated about it and come apart at the seams. This might not be the best way to handle crises on a basketball court, but grousing and asking for the manager seems to be a pretty successful life strategy, if not exactly charming.

This was one more reason for the general populace to turn off the TV whenever James Harden is set to appear on it. When a nation hates a sports team, resentment for success is usually large among the factors. The Rockets are in a unique situation in which their continued failure is not only what a resentful populace desires, but also further irritates the viewer. They were hated for being good when people thought they didn’t deserve to me, and now they’re hated for being bad when they could be good with some effort.

There is literally nothing the Rockets can do at this point that won’t be obnoxious to fans of the team, detractors, and general fans alike. This is an amazing achievement. The only problem is that it’s an amazingly negative achievement. maybe one day the Rockets will put it together. This was not that day. But when they do put it all together, rest assured that something newer and more confusing than ever will happen. That’s Houston Rockets basketball, after all.

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