Dallas Mavericks, 110, Houston Rockets 98: Failure

A Dallas Mavericks team without Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons, and Wesley Matthew came into Houston and were leading 50-25 over the Houston Rockets.

What am I even supposed to say after this? This game sucked. The Rockets are currently a failure of a basketball team. They were heartily booed during the second quarter. They can’t defend, they can’t score, they can’t shoot, and they can’t rebound.

They have not had a single impressive victory so far this season (Congratulations, you needed 46 points from Harden to beat a Clippers team without Chris Paul. Such accomplishment), and have been embarrassed again and again. Whether against Denver, Brooklyn, and now this.

Some thoughts after the jump.

First, the defense is much worse than the offense. And that is primarily on Ty Lawson and James Harden. In the first quarter, Raymond Felton just blew past Ty Lawson for the layup – twice. And Charlie Villaneuva, who has had one foot out of the league for years, did the same with Harden. This does not even get into the travesty of their transition defense, as no one is running down and Dallas’s Carlisle attack just gets them the ball in an open position easily.

Interior defense is more important than perimeter defense, but that does not mean that perimeter defense is irrelevant. The 2013-14 Rockets found that out the hard way, and the current Rockets are even worse right now.

And while I dislike the old “defense is just about effort” thing (because that implies that anyone can be a good defender), the current level of defensive effort is embarrassing. Capela and Dwight are trying, but they cannot cover everyone and they are forced to give up the offensive glass when they try to do so.

Second is about the three-pointers. Moreyball is not “spam threes, whenever you want.” It is about getting good shots from three, because at the end of the day, an open midrange shot is better than a contested three.

This is especially true for Harden, and I am extremely disquieted behind his constant shooting. There are quite a few star NBA wings who after hitting the rim a lot, started taking more and more jumpers which hurt their effectiveness. Vince Carter is probably the best example of this, as he did not dunk nearly as much as his reputation suggested, but Kobe is another example who actually turned out well.

Harden was better last season than Vince Carter ever was, but he needs to hit the rim more. He needs to finish. He is not a good pullup three point shooter. No one is with one exception, and that one exception is why the Warriors are probably going to win 82 games this season. For Harden, getting it to the rim and drawing fouls is his most effective tactic.

But it is a tough tactic where Harden will get banged up, and I have worried about how long Harden would hold up doing that. But sitting back and just firing a bunch of threes is no better. If he is trying to conserve himself and prevent the bangs and aches which come from getting at the rim and fouled, he needs to stop. The Rockets need him to play like he did last season, when he shot just seven three-pointers per game.

This season? Ten.

And third, the Rockets could possibly be dealing with even more injuries. Ariza had to head to the locker during the first half with what appeared to be something in his groin or leg. He came back, but did not help turn things around. And Montrezl Harrell suffered another injury which could keep him off the court.

Matt Moore has suggested that the 2014-15 Rockets just played over their heads, and it may certainly be possible. I thought that much myself, but thought the addition of Lawson would make up for that.

Well, it hasn’t. And the Rockets are at the point where they either turn it around now or start thinking about getting Ben Simmons. The one piece of good news at this point is that the Houston Rockets do keep their first round pick if it is in the lottery ( if the Rockets turn things around and actually make the playoffs, then it goes to the Nuggets).

So, at least the Rockets are not the Nets – even if they did lose to them.

About the author: The son of transplants to Houston, Paul McGuire is now a transplant in Washington D.C. The Stockton shot is one of his earliest memories, which has undoubtedly contributed to his lack of belief in the goodness of man.

in game coverage
Follow Red94 for occasional rants, musings, and all new post updates
Read previous post:
Denver Nuggets 107, Houston Rockets 98: More of the same