Rockets Daily: Tuesday, January 4th, 2011


Analysis and the not-so-daily links can be found after the jump.

When Tom Haberstroh earlier this year wrote a piece for ESPN Insider detailing the very legitimate reasons that Carmelo Anthony does not reside in the same echelon as his fellow draft classmates in Miami (even Bosh), the Internet and its assembled minions scratched and clawed at his numbers, trying to reconcile the notion of Anthony the dominant scorer that can readily be seen on NBA courts and the inefficient gunner Haberstroh portrays. The one number I felt Haberstroh did miss was the one that did in the Rockets last night: 8.1, the massive number of free throw attempts he has averaged per game this year. In the article, Haberstroh often gives Anthony the backhanded compliment of obviously being able to get his shot off no matter the situation (because he never seems to stop shooting), but that skill appeared very real last night as the Rockets desperately tried to get the ball out of his hands as he barreled toward the bucket like a robot enamored with LeBron James circa 2007, inevitably smacking his hands before they raised up to push in another floater off of the backboard. Monday night exhibited exactly why even a stathead like Daryl Morey would clamor for such a unique scoring presence, as his own nonpareil of efficiency, Kevin Martin, looked impotent and flustered without his usually sugar-cane-sweet jumper falling. Neither Anthony nor Martin left the Pepsi Center with a sterling presence in the box score, but the battered Baltimore native got to leave with another W in his pocket, bought and made at the charity stripe.

While Anthony stood out as the primary catalyst behind the nuggets’ late run that sealed Houston’s fate, the all-around scoring of the Nuggets’ roster also exhibited the fickleness of the Rockets’ attack. Though the Nugs shot a very average 46.7% from the field, the entire starting five posted double-digit scoring, while the Rockets’ first quintet minus the consistent rocks that are Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry produced a staggeringly low combined 16 points. I’m sure Rockets fans remember that completely bizarre playoff loss from several years ago in which only four starters scored at all as the rest of the roster put up a combined zero points; that was sort of like last night, except Scola and Lowry are nowhere near as good as Yao and McGrady. While they may be no poster boys for the next movement in Rockets history, the Lowry-Scola tandem has weirdly become the Rockets’ go-to transition team, a couple of rolling boulders waiting for a crack in the interior to get utterly smashed. Scola, despite his lack of athleticism or explosiveness of any kind, may be one of the league’s best fast-break finishers, almost never flushing it through but always perfectly placed for a lay-up off of the break (and even when he isn’t, he finds remarkable ways to put in his lay-ins off of the glass because that’s just what Luis Scola does); when the Rockets ran last night, things opened up everywhere. The Resurrection of Chase Budinger continued as the fluffy-headed shooter dropped 13 points on 7 shots (while nicely dishing out three assists along the way) and several of his looks came off of fast-breaks or quick sets coming out of transition; Courtney Lee launched what has to definitely be the Rockets’ best regular season dunk on a breakaway, twisting his right arms across his body to punch one in over the arms of the blurry-watercolor-mess that is Chris Andersen (anyone who wants to watch this can click on the highlight package above, provided as always by our good friend Huay-Bing Law).

The Rockets got themselves a decent cadre of highlights in Denver, but it was Anthony’s boring, repetitive walks up to the free-throw line that the Rockets couldn’t overcome in a fourth quarter in which Martin could not even be used for fear of another avalanche of airballs (alliteration!). Another game, another failed attempt to stop a star-driven team, leaving the Rockets wondering where they will find that gem with a flash of brilliance to place alongside these very dependable rocks.

Houston Rockets 106, Denver Nuggets 113

Box Score

Roundball Mining Company

On to the links…

  • More links to come later in the day. Until then, thanks for reading, folkers.

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