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Defensive breakdowns in the Houston Rockets’ loss to the Orlando Magic

From 3:18 in the fourth quarter, until the 1:20 mark, among their possessions, the Magic ran the following four sequences.



and then the dagger:

After the Frye ‘3’, Orlando went up four, putting the game out of reach.  What the hell happened?

All four of the shot attempts were undeterred, resulting from some defensive miscue of some sort.  If that happens at the tail end of a playoff game, forget about even getting out of the first round, much less winning a title.

On the Gordon drive, after the Magic run a double pick on Houston’s bigs, Motiejunas is in quick sand and Howard is late to recover.  On the first Payton drive, Beverley and Howard seem like they don’t know what they want to do, with Howard inexplicably shifting over to rotate to the big, when Beverley is exposed on the baseline.  WTF?  The smart play there would have been to cut off Payton on the baseline, either trapping him, or sending Beverley to rotate to the big man.  This one wasn’t Beverley’s fault.

Next, Motiejunas ends up switched onto Payton somehow in transition, having no chance one on one with the guard.  Howard’s just watching after Payton beats his ‘mate, even though his man has leaked out and isn’t a threat anymore.  Howard should have collapsed to help out realizing Motiejunas would not be able to stay with the speedy guard.

The last play might have been the most egregious.

How does that even happen?  Channing Frye’s entire existence is predicated upon standing at the three point line waiting for a shot.

Screenshot 2015-01-15 08.05.38

See the yellow arrows?  There should be a red arrow in the vicinity of each of them.  Then why are there three red arrows bunched up in the corner next to two Magic players?  Because James Harden isn’t guarding anyone.

For a team that’s talked a big talk about defensive focus this year, performances like last night’s won’t fly.  They looked a lot more like the team that got embarrassed by the Blazers in the playoffs than the stellar unit they’ve been this season.  Hopefully, the coaches will show the guys the tape and they’ll learn from their mistakes because this won’t cut it.  You can miss shots, you can even take bad ones, but you can’t let the other team get wide open looks like this late in the game if you want to win a title.


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About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of www.Red94.net.

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