And so we live to see another day
- It’s extremely difficult to not get greedy and push from one’s mind the thought that the Rockets could, nay, should, be up 3-1 right now. On the flip side, given their late-game execution, they are extremely lucky to have not gotten swept. They shouldn’t have won last night. Running three consecutive ISOs to close the game, they escaped by the skin of their teeth last night with a victory. What scares me is that I don’t think they, or their coach, realize how lucky they got. As I explained last night, initially after the debacle against the Lakers, I had blamed McHale for this complete breakdown in late game situations, thinking he was calling for the ISOs. Then, after Games 2 and 3, after hearing his comments about needing to move the ball, I speculated that the blame should probably be cast upon Harden and that he was ignoring his coach. But McHale’s postgame comments last night seemed to confirm my initial fears. When asked about the possessions, he expressed dismay that Harden didn’t drive the ball and get into the paint. He didn’t express dismay over the lack of a pick or the lack of any semblance of a play – he expressed dismay over the result of the ISO. This revelation is so, so disturbing that it almost takes away from the enjoyment and relief of winning simply because it’s an explication of the inevitable. Sure, the Rockets will probably get this fixed out in the offseason once Morey gets involved. But for now, you see the writing on the wall: they escaped alive, but this is how it will end; at some point, unless they’re blown out, the Rockets’ season will be over because they’ll revert to Hero-ball at the end of the game. They won’t fix it because it’s by design.
- It just completely defies all logic. Your offense is rolling, destroying one of the top ranked defenses in the league. The ball is hopping, Garcia and Delfino are en fuego, pun intended, Asik is cleaning the glass and Parsons is driving at will. So what do you do once the clock hits inside two minutes? Naturally, the complete opposite. It just makes zero sense by any sense of rationale. In what world is a contested stepback jumper, even from your best player, a higher percentage option than a repetition of what you had been doing to build a lead?
- I almost think they do it because they expect it. They think that that’s just what’s supposed to happen at the end of the game. You know how there are always certain things in sports which defy logic but are done because they are so engrained into the collective conscience? Like sliding to first-base when it doesn’t get you there any faster than running. I think this is an example of that. But what’s troubling is the coach’s endorsement of it.
- I’m getting depressed thinking that we may soon be seeing the last games of Carlos Delfino and Francisco Garcia in Rockets uniforms. Garcia, for sure, unless he takes a significant pay-cut, will be headed elsewhere, while the odds on Delfino returning too are not so great if the team hopes to make a big acquisition. They’ve been fun and it’s funny because this happens almost every season. Fans fall in love with role players and get emotionally attached, wondering if the team will resign them. Then the team lets them go and the next batch of lovable Rockets comes in. From Ron Artest to Hayes to Courtney Lee to Delfino and Garcia. It’s a cycle that won’t stop until the foundation is in place. What I mean is that right now, because the Rockets have yet to add that second star, flexibility is their main concern. They can’t tie themselves down by extending role players. But once they have that core in place–in example, if they sign Dwight Howard this summer–I think you’ll then see them resign fringe guys for the sake of chemistry and continuity. I have way more thoughts on this topic but I’ll save those for another day.
- Aaron Brooks came in last night and brought back memories of 2009, hitting a ’3′ from about 25 feet away with Derek Fisher right in his face. He then proceeded to bring back even more memories by turning the ball over and shooting…and shooting…until he was pulled. Has anyone in the history of basketball ever gotten back from China with a more misplaced sense of confidence? I kid. While there have been mixed results, AB has been a godsend just simply in the fact that he’s a weapon. You have to have guys who have to be accounted for in the playoffs. It’s as simple as that.
- When you watch Omer Asik on the offensive end you feel like a proud father in some extended analogy which is escaping me. The guy is literally playing his ass off to the point of exhaustion. While looking so, so, so ugly doing it. The predictable play where he bobbles a pass and then trips over himself trying to recover it leaves you just shaking your head thinking, “God bless you, Omer. God bless you.” That guy is going to keep fighting but by God, I would walk the whole yellow brick road myself if it meant convincing the Wizard to give that man some hands.
- Omer Asik is the most underrated player in basketball; he’s one of the best value contracts in the league; he might be the most valuable player on the Rockets.
- I’m just so glad we didn’t get swept. Losing in 5 or 6 is just so much more dignified than going out by way of the broom. But maybe even better is the nuisance value of making the Thunder have to go back for an extra flight. You just can’t roll over and let people know a team disposed of you in 4 games. At this point, I’m not expecting the Rockets to win this series, but I want that nuisance value of making the Thunder–of making Derek Fisher–travel for an extra game. That’s my small victory, damnit.
- I want Dwight Howard to watch this series and think, “Hmmm. They could really have something with me in that lineup.” That doesn’t mean getting rid of Asik. I’d keep him too. But that’s what this is about now. Making yourself more attractive. And by extending this thing, the Rockets have done that.
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