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@  feelingsuper... : (03 March 2014 - 02:47 PM) The 1993 series against Seattle was brutal, I remember being crushed.
@  feelingsuper... : (03 March 2014 - 02:42 PM) I think some of the fans could use the experience of brutal loses in the playoffs as well rocketrick.
@  rocketrick : (02 March 2014 - 01:31 AM) I meant the TEAM then gains much needed playoff experience...
@  rocketrick : (02 March 2014 - 01:30 AM) Then ideally Rockets fans get a 6- or 7-game series, at minimum, in the next round (WCSF's) and gain much needed playoff experience at minimum
@  rocketrick : (02 March 2014 - 01:29 AM) The Rockets don't have an easy route to the WCF's no matter which way you slice it. Home court advantage is a must for the best chance to get to WCSF's.
@  Buckko : (01 March 2014 - 05:58 PM) As long as LA stays in 4th seed, they will have to face OKC in the second round. That's why its so crucial for the rockets to be 2nd-3rd seed.
@  feelingsuper... : (01 March 2014 - 12:37 AM) Agreed, if any 3 of those coaches could immediately plug them in and get anything g it would have been Pop. Guess I am relieved now that you remind me of that.
@  Alituro : (28 February 2014 - 09:19 PM) You're right though, LAC and OKC are both dangerous enough to worry about, but they could contribute right away on the Spurs, who I was banking on remaining hobbled.
@  Alituro : (28 February 2014 - 09:17 PM) I would just rest easier knowing they're at the bottom of our conference or in the other. Both can be dangerous, esp in the right environment
@  feelingsuper... : (28 February 2014 - 08:57 PM) I think the verdict is still out, my guess is Butler contributes sporadically and I believe Granger is damaged goods, guess we'll see Alituro
@  Alituro : (28 February 2014 - 08:25 PM) FSS-- Oh NO! absolute worst possible case scenario for us, except SA scooping one up..
@  feelingsuper... : (28 February 2014 - 06:34 PM) Butler to Thunder and Granger to Clippers...
@  miketheodio : (27 February 2014 - 06:45 AM) lots of shots missed at the rim =/
@  feelingsuper... : (27 February 2014 - 06:17 AM) I think the Rockets looked good but just ran out of gas and then struggled to stay focused. Parsons needs to figure out when he needs to stop shooting some nights.
@  MrLobble : (27 February 2014 - 06:13 AM) I actually hope we go on a super winning streak or lose a couple... i don't want to see LAC in the 1st rd
@  MrLobble : (27 February 2014 - 06:13 AM) or no Power Forward
@  Cooper : (27 February 2014 - 06:12 AM) not going to beat playoff teams with Parsons no showing and cold harden/lin.
@  MrLobble : (27 February 2014 - 06:09 AM) when can we promote Canaan into lins spot?
@  YaoMan : (27 February 2014 - 04:40 AM) I like this kid Hamilton!
@  YaoMan : (27 February 2014 - 04:39 AM) Too many turnovers again - unforced turnovers. What is Bev trying to dribble around Paul for? And that Howard pass to no one...

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Washington Wizards @ Houston Rockets on 2/12/2014


66 replies to this topic

#1 Red94

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    Posted 11 February 2014 - 09:13 PM

    New post: Washington Wizards @ Houston Rockets on 2/12/2014
    By: Forrest Walker

    Suddenly, the Houston Rockets are the hottest team in the league. They've won six in a row, and the closest game was against the Milwaukee Bucks, somehow. They're beating quality teams, looking good doing it, and are about to head into an All-Star game that includes two of their players. The Washington Wizards are the next team standing between the Rockets and the double-digit winning streak they covet so badly. The Wizards aren't a bad team, but they aren't on the same level as Houston. You can expect the Rockets to win in H-town. You can also expect the unexpected.

    This run comes at the same time as a slow period in Houston's schedule, which helps explain it. It also coincides with the return of Patrick Beverley and Ömer Aşık, two quality players. The bench is more productive, the underwhelming Franciso Garcia has been scaled back and Jeremy Lin has taken more of the offensive load. The stars are finally aligning in Houston, and the question is whether it's a shift back to the mean or a temporary surge. Each game Houston wins lends credence to their sustainability, which is why each game, even in February, is of critical import.

    The Wizards recently grabbed hold of their first winning record in four years, an accomplishment that' s encouraging, depressing and kind of amazing all at once. For a Wizards team sitting at 25-25, there are two outcomes for this game. They either slide back down to a losing record or they climb once again to the Elysian fields of winning yet again. They could become one of only five teams in the East with a winning record, which isn't very impressive on its own, but is a far cry better than the two winning records that conference sported until this calendar year.

    If the Rockets win, we have a good idea of what it will look like. Their defense has picked up somewhat, and while it has lapses, the return of Ömer Aşık allows them to focus much more on denying shots at the perimeter. The less the Rockets have to rely on individual defense, the more they can cover their weaknesses as a team. The Wizards are led by John Wall, one of the best point guards in the league, so they can't be counted out. They're liable to go on some runs and find purchase against some units.

    Thankfully, with the bench slowly filling back out, head coach Kevin McHale has an entire salvo of Rockets to play mix and match with. If something goes south, there are more parts to slot in and shore the gaps. And with the low number of games Houston has been playing, fatigue has never been less of an issue. The Rockets can afford to leave the starters in for a few more minutes to grab this game.

    The offense has been getting in rhythm, and it's looked good even when players have off days. The goal, and something which happened in Milwaukee, is to have enough firepower that the Rockets can overwhelm even when some cylinders aren't firing. James Harden has a lot of offensive load to shoulder, but having Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones and Jeremy Lin around to pick some of that up means that he can have off games form time to time. Something will always go wrong; the good teams just have enough options that they can afford to lose a couple.

    This brings up what it would look like if the Rockets lose. The short answer is that it would look terrible. If the Rockets become complacent and assume a win, they risk letting the Wizards sneak into the game and through the cracks in Houston's defense (which are numerous, even with Houston at the 8th best defensive efficiency). This season has been the story of effort and experience being crucial, and the Rockets only have a little bit more now than they did before. If Wall, Nene, Bradley Beal and the rest of the Washington Wizards start to go off, the Rockets may find themselves down big early. Again.

    Houston has shown that they're liable to give up any lead or crawl back from any deficit. It's party due to their fast-pace style of play and party due to their inconsistent mentality. Whatever the reason, it makes watching every Rockets game an adventure. The downside is that every game is a stressful experience, but at least no game is ever really boring.


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    #2 thejohnnygold

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    Posted 12 February 2014 - 04:56 PM

    Should be a good game.  I like watching Nene, Wall, and Beal--even Ariza a little bit.

     

    Was just looking at the overall standings in the NBA.  The 9th place Memphis Grizzlies (28-23) would be in 3rd place in the East--1 game ahead of Toronto (27-24).  What a joke.  The Knicks (20-31) are only 2.5 games out of the 8th seed.


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    #3 Dan G

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      Posted 13 February 2014 - 01:17 AM



      Tonight is an important game. If we win and the Clippers beat the Trail Blazers, we will be tied for the 3rd seed going into the All-Star break.


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      #4 txtdo1411

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      Posted 13 February 2014 - 04:05 AM

      What a game! I hate giving up the lead, but I'll take a win with 26 turnovers and Ariza hitting 10 3s. I can't wait to read the write up and post game comments about this one.
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      #5 Red94

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        Posted 13 February 2014 - 04:32 AM

        New post: Houston Rockets 113, Washington Wizards 112: I guess Harden-ball can work after all.
        By: Paul McGuire

        If the aphorism that a championship team can win games even when they play badly is true, then the Houston Rockets should start planning the parade right about now.  Sure, Trevor Ariza just got hot from downtown, and sure the Rockets did shoot extremely well themselves, and sure Dwight Howard made Marcin Gortat and Nene look silly, and Harden put up 35 points, and Donatas Motiejunas 11 to help the bench.  But the reality is that 9 times out of 10, with Houston down 2 points with 4 seconds left and having failed to make a field goal in nearly 5 minutes, the Rockets would have lost this game largely due to shoddy perimeter defense and an absolutely unacceptable passing game which created a ludicrous 26 turnovers.  But a poor foul from Trevor Ariza and a clutch layup from James Harden meant that the Rockets did not so much as win as more they escaped.

        The turnovers, really, should receive the first focus of the game, even more so than Harden’s heroics. Bill Worrell, Houston’s commentator, stated at one point that the Rockets had not turned the ball over more than 20 times in around 30 games.  I’ll admit that this was a pleasant surprise and a nice change from the beginning of the season, when handing out 20 turnovers seemed to happen more often than not. Washington is one of the very best teams in the league at forcing turnovers, and they have the long, athletic player in Ariza, John Wall, and Martell Webster to do it.  But a lot of Houston’s turnovers were Jeremy Lin, Harden, and Howard trying out passes that they had no business attempting, as those three players combined for 16 of the 26 turnovers.  The last five minutes are a good example, as Houston had three turnovers in that stretch.  Lin attempted a foolish half-court pass to Dwight which got picked off, Dwight attempted a bad cross-court pass to Lin, and Terrence Jones shuffled his feet.  To top it off, the fact that so many turnovers were the result of bad passes meant that Washington got the opportunity to push the ball in transition, bolstering their anemic half-court offense.  It was without a doubt the single worst thing about this game, much more so than Trevor Ariza catching fire in the third quarter.

        Oh.  Right.  Ariza.  Ariza had played decently well for the first two quarters of the game, but with 3:31 left in the 3rd quarter, the Rockets were leading by 19, and Nene really had been the best Washington player at that point.  But over the next 3 minutes, the Wizards hit 6 straight 3 pointers.  5 of them were by Ariza, who hit a career high 10 3-pointers and went 7-7 in the third.  A lot of Ariza’s earlier threes were the result of bad defense, especially from Harden’s ball-watching habits.  But even after the Rockets latched onto Ariza at the end of the 3rd quarter, he continued to hit anyways, just like Chandler Parsons’s valiant effort against the Memphis Grizzlies.  Fortunately, Ariza was shut down in the 4th quarter, but the Wizards did retake the lead of Houston turnovers until Harden saved the day.

        As for Harden?  Rahat has discussed in the past his own concerns about Harden-ball in the last few minutes, but I take a different perspective.  I remember how the Kevin Martin-Luis Scola-Aaron Brooks Rockets, even with an offensive mastermind in Rick Adelman at the helm, struggled badly at the end of games because the time limitations meant that running plays was difficult and Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks are not exactly players who should be receiving the ball at the end of the game.  Scoring at the end of games is difficult in general.  Tonight, however, the Rockets were able to ride Harden over the final two possessions, and it resulted in free throws and an absolutely spectacular layup to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

        Ultimately, the victory over Washington is not one which should go down in the annals of great victories.  But a win is a win, 7 wins in a row is still good, and the Houston Rockets could very well be tied in 3rd place at the All-Star break depending on the results of tonight’s Clippers-Blazers game.  For now, I guess I’ll take it.


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        #6 thejohnnygold

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        Posted 13 February 2014 - 05:31 AM

        For everyone blaming Ariza for that last foul--not so fast!  James Harden used his left hand and grabbed Ariza's jersey, pulling him in close so the refs couldn't see it, and as he dragged him through that Dwight screen Ariza eventually tried to get Harden to let go and that is when Harden was "fouled".  It was a heady play--dirty--but heady.

         

        Immediately after the game, Harden ran over to Ariza and apologized for it (at least that is what it looked like to me).  There was a playful demeanor between them, but James and Trevor both knew what had happened.

         

        I can't seem to find a video clip of it, but if I do I will post it.

         

        I'll take the win either way :)


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        #7 senkay

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          Posted 13 February 2014 - 05:44 AM

          johnny,

           

          I agree!  But, that's getting it done.  Looks like they are learning how to win together.  Whatever it takes!  East coast old school.


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          #8 PhillyCheese

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            Posted 13 February 2014 - 06:12 AM

            Did anyone notice Lin drawing up a play at .7 sec left in game?


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            #9 BrentYen

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            Posted 13 February 2014 - 07:36 AM

            I think he was confirming all possible options with key players. But it is funny to see him took the pen from McHale and start to draw..
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            Is a big Jeremy Lin fan and was a big ROX fan. More importantly, a huge bball fan in general.


            #10 linonlyfan

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              Posted 13 February 2014 - 07:50 AM



              The last play was very good. Jeremy Lin played first mover decoy which allowed Harden to get the ball and attack a closeout with his defender just having fought over a Howard screen. Essentially this put Harden into his best skill set, beating the help defender with a slithering Eurostep without the burden of beating his first defender. He also Iced those free throws. Great play from a great player with great team work.

              I didn't get a 2nd look but the Wall foul to go ahead looked like it should have been a no call to me. Howard did a great job of going vertical and not reaching down.

              I only cringe when Harden goes into his low crouch stationary between the legs dribble with everyone in the arena looking at him. Even if he is attacking a mismatch I'm starting to think that is a very very low percentage play for Houston. I only ever see a step back 3 or a wing pass resulting from this. I think McHale should ban him from doing this and from passing off after doing this so someone else gets the missed shot or turnover. If he goes into I'm the man mode he should at least penetrate and draw before passing the ball.


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              #11 SDrake

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                Posted 13 February 2014 - 01:08 PM

                I think the game was an excellent example of the great and the awful that Harden can bring to the team.  He had an awesome night scoring, but his turnovers and lack of defense on Ariza (career high in scoring) negated much of his scoring.  Had Harden played defense, the game is never close as it should be when playing a lesser team like the Wizards.


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                #12 feelingsupersonic

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                Posted 13 February 2014 - 01:24 PM

                It was a play McHale drew so yes credit where credit is due, great job to McHale. Good execution by the team and credit to James for being so dominant in the last few minutes of games but if you want to give a supporting cast award it looks like Dwight with his picks for Harden on the catch and drive for the layup gets the nod in my opinion.
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                #13 Bigtkirk

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                  Posted 13 February 2014 - 01:26 PM



                  The Wizards are an up and coming team, with four players having generated more than 3.5 Wins Produced. They definitely are not a pushover anymore.


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                  #14 Alituro

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                    Posted 13 February 2014 - 02:26 PM

                    It was a play McHale drew so yes credit where credit is due, great job to McHale. Good execution by the team and credit to James for being so dominant in the last few minutes of games but if you want to give a supporting cast award it looks like Dwight with his picks for Harden on the catch and drive for the layup gets the nod in my opinion.

                    Yes, that was an impressive pick... Speaking of impressive picks, did anybody see the sick one Omer set for Harden at around :36 left of the 1st? He repeated it again in the 4th or late 3rd. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Asik sets the most devastating screens in the league. One reason is because his philosophy centers around giving the ball handler the best opportunity to score, him getting the ball on the roll is not a desirable option, even to him. The result is he positions his body perfectly based on the ball handlers directional preferences in order to pick up as many defenders as he can. He also waits until the handler is well clear before releasing, and trailing the shot for a put back (which is exactly what you want him to do). Last play of the game excluded, because D12 wasn't an option on the play, Dwight doesn't put as much thought into his screens, and releases early to maybe get it on the roll. This does not give the handler the best chance to score. Don't get me wrong, it's a great option with Dwight because he is the best in the league off the roll. However it proves more challenging for the handler. Harden absolutely feasts off Omer's screens and the lack of these of any consistency, may be the one factor in Harden's drop in efficiency between last season and this one. Not saying I prefer Omer over Dwight, but he is a SWEET option to have either if Dwight is off one night, or especially if Harden is having a tough time getting involved in any particular game.


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                    #15 bladad

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                      Posted 13 February 2014 - 02:37 PM

                      Yes, that was an impressive pick... Speaking of impressive picks, did anybody see the sick one Omer set for Harden at around :36 left of the 1st? He repeated it again in the 4th or late 3rd. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Asik sets the most devastating screens in the league. One reason is because his philosophy centers around giving the ball handler the best opportunity to score, him getting the ball on the roll is not a desirable option, even to him. The result is he positions his body perfectly based on the ball handlers directional preferences in order to pick up as many defenders as he can. He also waits until the handler is well clear before releasing, and trailing the shot for a put back (which is exactly what you want him to do). Last play of the game excluded, because D12 wasn't an option on the play, Dwight doesn't put as much thought into his screens, and releases early to maybe get it on the roll. This does not give the handler the best chance to score. Don't get me wrong, it's a great option with Dwight because he is the best in the league off the roll. However it proves more challenging for the handler. Harden absolutely feasts off Omer's screens and the lack of these of any consistency, may be the one factor in Harden's drop in efficiency between last season and this one. Not saying I prefer Omer over Dwight, but he is a SWEET option to have either if Dwight is off one night, or especially if Harden is having a tough time getting involved in any particular game.

                      Imagine the free reign that Harden or Lin would have slashing to basket if you had Omer AND Dwight setting good screens... Still super disappointed that the grand experiment to play both of them at the same time didn't work out.


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                      #16 Steven

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                        Posted 13 February 2014 - 02:42 PM

                        Imagine the free reign that Harden or Lin would have slashing to basket if you had Omer AND Dwight setting good screens... Still super disappointed that the grand experiment to play both of them at the same time didn't work out.

                        It was never going to work out. You can't have two guys on the court that can't constantly hit a 15' jumper. It clogs the lanes for the drivers, and the shooters' man don't have to sag off them, because an extra man is already in the lane. So not only can you not drive, you can't kick it out if you do happen to drive.
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                        #17 thejohnnygold

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                        Posted 13 February 2014 - 03:28 PM

                        I agree that Washington is underrated.  They have some nice players.  They lack depth (except at SF) so when guys got injured it hurt worse than it does for other teams.  At full strength they are tough.

                         

                        While I won't give Harden a pass on defense I also won't fully blame him for Ariza shooting 10-14 and nailing 7 in a row.  Sometimes that just happens.  Ariza has shot pretty well from deep all season (40%).  He is also chipping in 1.9 steals/game.  Good for him.

                         

                        Here is Lin's "play calling".  This was after we took the lead and they were planning their defense.

                         

                        ibdk0byizWsEBC.gif


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                        #18 YaoMan

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                          Posted 13 February 2014 - 03:46 PM

                          That was a torture of a game to watch! After being up by 19 to see Ariza go "Chandler Parsons" on us was scary. 

                          Although Harden was definitely the hero and got the Rockets the win, there was a possession or two before the final one where he did exactly as Thorpe mentioned.  Rockets were down by two and Harden dribbled between the legs, two jab dribbles and a stand still crossover before 3 seconds left on a shot clock and a pass to Lin with a defender in his face and a shot clock violation.  This is what Thorpe was referring to in Harden being the ball stopper like Melo.  This is the Harden I cringe at.  The Harden I like is one that splits to defender from a Dwight pick and euro-steps his way to the cup for 2.  That was like the worst and best of Harden in the last minute of the game.  Hopefully we see more of the Best!

                          JohnnyGold, I wouldn't call that in bounds foul play dirty...borderline but not dirty. We see superstars get away with a lot of things a lot more blatant than that so I think James knew what he could do to entice a call.  But I agree with you completely about not making Ariza the goat here.  I also believe the Wizards to be underrated and they have pulled some wins over quality teams.  They do lack depth and but they have both size in the front court and speed in the back court which can make for a deadly combination. 

                          Anyway, a win is a win. Whether by 30 or 1 point, it makes no difference in the standings.  I also think it helps to win a few close games especially considering they had a season high in turnovers.  I noticed the box score and every Rocket player who saw the floor had at least a turnover. They were just giving it away last night!


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                          #19 Mitchell Felker

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                            Posted 13 February 2014 - 03:58 PM

                            I saw on Truth About It this morning that they were complaining about Harden flopping on Ariza's last foul.  At no time in the run up to the whistle did Ariza not have at least one arm (but most of the time both) wrapped around Harden.  Harden gave it a sell at the end, but it certainly wasn't a flop. 


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                            #20 Cooper

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                              Posted 13 February 2014 - 04:05 PM

                              Harden selling that foul was a veteran move Chris Paul would be proud.
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