Jeremy Lin was out with back spasms. Terrence Jones had the flu. James Harden sprained his ankle during the game. Dwight Howard couldn’t hit a free throw (nor for that matter, could the Rockets as a whole). Garcia and Casspi could not hit anything, and Greg Smith in his first game back after a month fouled out in 20 minutes. It was that sort of a game, where while Houston started off strong, Sacramento took the lead in the 2nd quarter and everything from free throws to shooting to some interesting referee calls made things progressively worse as the game went on, resulting in the final dismal score.
- In a radio interview at the beginning of the 2013 offseason, Daryl Morey stated that if the offseason was a total flop and the Rockets failed to sign any major free agents, that Houston’s record would likely not improve very much from last year’s. Morey claimed that while the young Rockets players would improve, the team was very healthy last year, and that would likely change. The Rockets are obviously far superior to last year’s team both overall and in talent, but the constant banging that everyone seems to have received this season has taken its toll. For example, Harden played very well at the end of the second quarter and at the beginning of the third, and for a moment it looked like it would be one of those games where he would just overpower Sacramento by himself. But then he badly sprained his ankle and went to the locker room. While he would return, Harden was forced to the perimeter and did little more than fire up 3 pointers for the rest of the game. For now, at least the injuries have been minor, but there are still over 50 games left to go in the season.
- While I would like to make a note of the officiating, the Rockets really do not have grounds to complain given that seemingly no one could hit their free throws tonight. Houston went a mere 22-38, or 58% tonight, and while Howard obviously regressed with a 5-13 effort, Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas also missed both of theirs.
- From Sacramento’s end, Rudy Gay is likely going to be the one who gets the credit, as he put up 26 points and looked nothing like the Gay who infamously chucked 37 shots against Houston earlier this season as a Raptor. However, I was more impressed by Isaiah Thomas. So recently after stifling Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard, Patrick Beverley struggled to guard Thomas, who scored 11 points in the second quarter, finished with 19 points on 12 shots, and grabbed 8 assists. Thomas was devastating in the pick and roll man regardless of the roll man, as he threw lobs up to Cousins, Jason Thompson, and even Quincy Acy.
- As noted above, Greg Smith made his return after missing a month with a sprained right knee, and was more or less typical Smith. He had a good hook shot and grabbed 9 boards, but his problems with defense and fouling continued, as he could not guard Cousins in the post or the pick and roll in general. Rahat has stated that he does not believe that an Asik trade will occur – I am inclined to agree with him, but perhaps that is due to mere trepidation at the fact that I do not trust Smith to be Howard’s backup center at all. The Rockets need more defense, not more finishing ability.
- With the emergence of Terrence Jones ( who honestly should not have played tonight with the flu), Houston’s main problem has seemed to shift from fixing the power forward position to finding someone, anyone who can give James Harden and Chandler Parsons a breather( as the two are respectively first and tenth in minutes per game). The problem has been exacerbated by the fact that clearly a Lin-Beverley lineup was to help this problem, but Garcia and Casspi were very bad in their return to Sacramento, going a combined 2 for 11 for the game and missing several 3 pointers which were completely wide open. The starting lineup for now seems to be set – but with Lin currently hobbled, what about the bench?