Denver Nuggets 105, Houston Rockets 95 – The Millennium Falcon Crashes and Burns

Late in the second quarter, as the Rockets trailed the Nuggets by 8, James Harden streaked down the court on a fast break, nailing an impossible-looking layup and drawing the foul. Rockets commentator Matt Bullard excitedly declared that James Harden was “like the Millennium Falcon, trying to get in there!” Unlike in the movies, however, Houston’s Millennium Falcon lit on fire and fell out of the sky on the way to a blowout loss to the gelling Denver Nuggets. With 23 turnovers on the night, the Rockets dug themselves a hole too big to blast out of.

James Harden, the aforementioned hyperdrive-powered starship, had a poor outing for him, shooting a sub-par 8-17 from the field, only getting 5 free throws, and turning the ball over a mortifying 7 times. Harden was at times the only Rocket who seemed to have the energy and will to fight back into the game. Unfortunately, the Nuggets had no interest in letting that happen, and played aggressive defense on Harden all night long.   James Harden suffered a hit to the eye, but returned to the game shortly and seemed perfectly fine.

Patterson, despite playing only sparse minutes (14:48) had a decent outing. He shot 4-7 and had 10 points, though his rebounding numbers continued to be below expectations (only one). Marcus Morris, his primary competition at the power forward position, also chipped in 10 points, including 2-3 from downtown. He pulled in 5 boards in his 24 minutes, and looked ready to continue his recent streak of decent play. Both power forwards have run hot and cold lately, and with Royce White allegedly close to playing for Houston, the 4 spot looks to be unpredictable in the coming weeks.

Carlos Delfino had a decent night, knocking down half his shots overall, but only 3-8 from deep. Despite having the ability to knock down shots from seemingly any depth behind the arc, he evens that positive out with a propensity to have poor shooting nights. Parsons, for his part, faded from the game, leaving Delfino to play the greater minutes total at the small forward. Parsons managed only 6 points on 25% shooting.

Patrick Beverley and Toney Douglas dueled for the backup guard position, with Patrick playing in the first half, then Toney playing in the second half. Both played together briefly, but their effectiveness was limited. Despite having a good ration of assists to turnovers (5:1), Beverely missed all three of his shots, all of which were from downtown. Toney Douglas, on the other hand, shot 4-11 for 8 points, but only dished 2 dimes. While head coach Kevin McHale seems inclined to give Beverely ample time to prove himself, the minute distribution in the guard rotation seems as up in the air as anything.

The remaining Rockets starters, Lin and Asik, both had middling nights. Lin shot a poor 3-7 and only had 3 assists (and 2 turnovers), but he showed a couple flashes of aggression, including a very impressing and-one layup. Lin will have to continue to attack the rim with more consistency if the Rockets hope to cement a playoff spot. Asik grabbed a very solid 13 rebounds, and shot 3-5, including a surprising athletic flash to the rim. Even in his quiet games, Asik has been consistent and solid for Houston, and is clearly not going to lose his starting spot unless an unthinkable trade goes down.

The Rockets got out to an early deficit, following a 7-2 run with 8 first quarter turnovers and an 11-0 Nuggets run. Despite clawing back into the game in the second quarter, the Rockets collapsed in an ugly 36-22 third quarter. The Nuggets pulled ahead by 20 points, and the game was clearly decided early in the fourth. The lead was trimmed to 10 in garbage time, and for the last 18 mintes the game wasn’t close at all. The Rockets quite simply gave the game away in the form of 23 turnovers. Uneven play is to be expected from young teams, but seeing their sloppy, dispirited games so soon after playing fantastically in December seems to be taking an emotional toll.

The Rockets, despite beginning to shoot closer to average (44.6% overall, 32.4% from three), and beginning to get a sliver of rest, still have a lot of work to do. Their defense continues to be inconsistent at best, and their transition defense is basically nonexistent. As the Rockets hover just above .500, someone will have to come up with some answers soon.

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  • Hakeem DaDream says 4 months ago If McHale is experimenting then why hasn't T-Jones played? Where Montejunas except at garbage time? McHale is just a petty person who creates conflict for his interest. Experiment? He doesn't even have any different offensive sets or plays than Harden at the point and the other 4 players standing around.
  • datruth says 4 months ago Hornets are next up and I not encouraged. Prime example if you are rebuilding be in rebuild mode. Give the kids a chance to mature and develope. Mchale is struggling.
  • ale11 says 4 months ago I agree with all of you. I see that McHale is experimenting right now with what works and what doesn't, but I also think that he has something like a double-standard regarding Harden. It is unnecessary to play him 40 minutes losing by 20 with 5 minutes to go.

    I think his logic about all those lineups is that moving players around make them more difficult to guard consistently, but you have to have Miami's roster to do that properly. Delfino is a 2, 3 maybe, you can't play him at 4! You already have PF who can spread the floor and shoot 3s, hell, give Motie some playing time!

    And please, PLEASE, stop sending bounced passes to Asik. I love that guy, but he can't catch the ball coming from the floor. Those kind of things are the ones who gets players frustrated, both the passer and Asik.
  • thenit says 4 months ago Alituro in regards of your statement that McHale is experimenting is just wrong. He seems to let some players play through a rough game and other will get taken out after one bad decision. Als the fact that we are developing is also not correct. Rockets was done over 20 p at the end of 4th quarter so why do you still play Harden ? He is obviously struggling mostly due to fatigue, why dont you take him out, because we will need him, but McHale actually believed they could come back with a lineup of harden, delfino, parson, douglas and asik, because 4 of the 5 can take 3s. What are the odds that they would win that game with 5 min to go? Since harden is almost playing 40 minutes a game during the last 10 games he should get rest when we can give him some with this tough stretch of games, so Mchale is just terrible in his decision making
  • Alituro says 4 months ago Did anyone catch the alley-oop McGee gave himself off the backboard in the 3rd? That was SICK. Would that be considered an assist/fg combo or a rebound and a put back?

    A lot of people are complaining about McHale's rotations. All I have to say is get used to it. This is a developmental season and I love seeing every possible combination of players we can put on the floor get some test time. The fact that McHale is experimenting with the rotations is a huge reason to keep him around. He's not trying to win every game, he's trying to see what works, and some things won't work. As stated in the post, the success we saw in December was nice, but it clouded everyone's mind with lofty expectations. There's absolutely only ONE expectation anyone should have for this team this season and that is to develop our youth as much as possible and that is happening.
  • ItsAllGoodBro says 4 months ago Too many back to back games taking their toll. It's seems unfair for one team to have 22 back to backs and another just 9 or 10. A young team is going to falter after long road trips. They will pull it together. Harden isn't getting any help. Lin is way too passive, and his shot is amongst the worst I've ever seen. Teams have learned to leave Lin open at the 3 point line and really muscle Harden on drives, forcing him to pass out to the open man. Unfortunately the open man is usually Lin, and at this point Harden is probably a bit tired of seeing another Lin 3 pointer clang off the rim. So he passes into traffic.

    I think Lin has some interesting qualities. He's very quick, and dribbles very well with his right hand. He can also make some nifty layups with that right hand. But that's his game. Pick and Roll, can't go left. HE CAN'T GO LEFT. He also goes under screens way too often. It's comical. PG's hitting threes in Lin's face, and Lin can't buy one on the other end. Lin seems like an intelligent guy - hey Lin shoot 1000 free throws A DAY. Work on your balky jumper. Rondo did it, look at him now. Learn to muscle your way through screens. See them coming.

    I have no idea what's up with Patrick Beverly. He must be killing it in practice, because nothing I've seen on the court of play has looked NBA-worthy.

    I miss Scola. This team has no post game.
  • khyberjones says 4 months ago Lin had a good second quarter and helped to get the game tied up at the half. He had outplayed Lawson to that point. 3/7 is over 40%,which is a decent shooting night. When Lin had the ball in his hands, he got open looks for the shooters and got 3 FT attept along with hitting 3 baskets, 1 steal and 2 rebs. If Lin had been allowed to run the offense and get maybe 12-15 shots, he could've helped them win. I have no understanding why Douglas has gone into the dog house. He was playing well. Delfino is awful at anything except the spot up jump shot, yet he keeps getting time. Patterson played well but had too few minutes. It's hard to understand what McHale is doing.
  • datruth says 4 months ago Only thing you can asked for life is to be treated fairly. You don't have to like someone, but you do have to show everyone respect. Mchale has cross the line when it come to respect and disrespect. No reason why Lin should have been benched tonight. No reason why Morris and Patterson should have played limited minutes. If he says if was defense then Harden is the worst defensive player we have. He turns the ball over more than any player in the league. Sure, we can say Harden is the best player on this team, but we will never know how good this team is without Harden, because he plays over 40 minutes a game. Mchale and Sampson has a double standard in treatment of their player. I not trying to stand up just for Lin, Parson, Patterson or Morris. I trying to stand up for this team. I don't know maybe this what the Rockets have become. Harden was the fourth best player on the OKC team. Durant, Westbrook and Serge was more productive players than Harden night in and night out. We took a guy that was limited on the defensive side of the ball and basically a three point shooter then paid him Lebron, Durant and Kobe type of money. Then people have the nerve to say what we have seen from him is not happening.It's Lin fault or Parson, Morris and patterson fault. Lin turn a team around that had not went to playoffs in years in New York. Harden again was not even the focus players for any strenght of time prior to this year. Harden can be a very good player, but please stop lying to us and saying he is a leader and has been a leader. Nobody in OKC Is crying that he left and now I see why. Again, Mchale should be fired, but I doubt it will happen. This team will sink with ship name Harden, Mchale and Sampson. It amazing that many fans come to see Lin and soon those fans will stop coming.
  • thenit says 4 months ago What I don't understand either is why he changed the guard rotation with Tony, he was actually doing well and suddenly Beverly had a 2 great garbage minutes in his debut, and suddenly Tony is no good?
  • thenit says 4 months ago I will concede that Lin is a below average defender at the moment. But I believe he can develop into a at least average defender. This is basically his rookie season. On the flipside Harden can't guard anyone either. He is poor defensively and I would put him into the same "chucker" category as melo and kobe, but the difference is that Kobe actually is a great defender and therefore wins championships whereas Harden will become the next Melo. So when kobe struggles at least he pitches in with some D
  • amacbrooks12 says 4 months ago Jeremy Lin cannot guard any point guard in this league, which is why he is constantly getting reduction in minutes.
  • thenit says 4 months ago I'm Sorry but Lin shot a poor 3-7 is not a great observation on the game.
    Mchale needs to go. You play your starting pg 24 miuntes is just plain stupid. You sit your starting PG for the whole 2nd half except for the first 7 minutes of the half. He didn't play great but he wasn't bad either. Neither of the other backups warranted the extra minutes since they didn't shoot great or played great defense. And harden was atrocious with his turnovers. And why was some of the starters still in the game when they were down 20 points with 5 minutes to go when it seems like a good time to give your STAR player some rest, no wonder Harden is struggling of fatigue , you don't see other coaches play their Stars when there is a blowout
  • Red94 says 4 months ago New post: Denver Nuggets 105, Houston Rockets 95 - The Millennium Falcon Crashes and Burns
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Denver Nuggets @ Houston Rockets on 1/23/2013
The Rockets’ Recent Struggles
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