Recap: Rockets fail to capitalize in the paint, lose big in Utah 99-86

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Last night's game was filled with frustration.  So many opportunities, and so many missed opportunities.  Let's forget referees for a second, because to be honest, with the exception of a few calls in the third and fourth quarters, the officiating wasn't nearly as poor as it usually is in SLC.  I want to look at one period in this game in particular, that being the period in which Von Wafer and Kyle Lowry entered the game in the third quarter.

At the 2:43 mark in the third quarter, we were down by six.  Enter Kyle and Von, something that I had eagerly awaited to happen.  Last time around, when we were losing to the Jazz on March 4th, Lowry sparked a comeback by himself, drawing four fouls in the process.  That didn't happen last night.  At all.

Let's look at some of the plays that occurred from the 2:43 mark in the third to the 7:58 mark in the fourth, when Wafer and Lowry were taken out:

1:21 Kyle Lowry misses layup

1:04 Kyle Lowry misses 23-foot three point jumper

10:53 Von Wafer offensive goaltending

9:23 Von Wafer offensive foul (Kyle Korver draws the foul)

8:56 Kyle Korver blocks Von Wafer's 5-foot jumper

8:37 Kyle Lowry traveling

8:18 Von Wafer misses layup

A few notes on each play:

  • 1:21 - Missed layups plagued us.  Killed us.  I don't know how many we missed; maybe 15-20?  Granted, a few of the put-back attempts should have been called fouls, but nevertheless, we couldn't buy a layup.  Aside from the abundance of clanked jumpers, our missed shots in the paint explained our poor shooting percentage, as we actually shot our three pointers quite well.
  • 1:04 - Lowry took two threes this game, and only one of them was a wide-open shot.  Based off of his play with the Rockets thus far, it was unlike him to take an ill-advised shot when we severely needed points and could have gotten a better shot.
  • 10:53 - Offensive goaltending happens.  I can't fault hustle in this case.
  • 9:23 - This began a string of mishaps on the fast break.  While I appreciate Von Wafer's determination to get to the hole and score, it wasn't smart to try to go 1 on 3 to the basket.  While his quickness allowed him to beat  the first two defenders on the break, he was out of control by the time he went up for the layup and was called for charging.  I do think it was a bad call, as Korver was moving/falling before the contact, but Von should have pulled it out and extended the possession.  Quick, one-shot possessions and turnovers on those possessions hurt us more than anything.  Our will to score and try to regain the lead was evident, but our comeback attempt was poorly executed.
  • 8:56 - Again, Wafer tried to take on two defenders on the break, and was blocked by Korver.  Another possession wasted.
  • 8:37 - Another fast break attempt, another turnover, and another possession wasted.  And a partridge in a pear tree, while we're at it.
  • 8:18 - Von ends our fast break goose-egg with another missed layup.  At this point, we have fallen behind by 11 points, 82-71.  Had we shown any patience on offense and either gotten the ball inside or moved the ball to find an open shot, we could have kept the game closer.  We made a small run at the end of the 4th quarter, but we were already down too much at that point to complete the comeback.

The Jazz had twelve blocks.  Five on Ron Artest.  For all of the troubles that the Jazz had in terms of scoring points in the paint, they made up for it with paint defense.  Artest's intensity and strength was met with a tough Ronnie Brewer, who I consider to be the Jazz's MVP of this game.  He ignited the crowd (albeit an annoying, whiny crowd) with a few dunks and hit 8 of 9 free throws. 

My only beef with the referees in this game is rooted in the free throw disparity.  The Jazz shot 25, while we only shot 14.  Many of the fouls that were called on us were with the body.  The Jazz did a good job avoiding bumps, but the arms were a-swinging.  Mehmet Okur fouled Luis Scola twice on that ridiculous 5-offensive rebound possession we had.  Milsap had a few arm-chops.  I thought we could have shot at least six more free throws, and I think a few body calls at the end against us could have been no-calls.  While the referees did not by any means change the outcome of the game, there were some problems.  And that's all I have to say about that.

We also got three-pointer happy.  26 threes in a game?  While we hit 10 of them, many of those three-pointers were quick shots early in the possession.  It wasn't smart for us to jack up all those shots the way we did.  Ugh.

Jump for the rest of the recap...

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Couldn't resist...

Three Up:

Shane Battier -- Shane was money from behind the arc, going 4-7 from three while scoring 18 points.  It wasn't his best game defensively, as Kyle Korver/Ashton Kutcher/Hilary Swank went to work on him early.  But we would have never been in this game without Shane's contributions.  He was the only one who could get it going on offense.

Aaron Brooks -- I wasn't impressed with Aaron's performance until I looked at his box score.  20 points?  Nice.  No turnovers?  Nice.  For all of the quick, ill-advised shots I saw Aaron take tonight, he made up for it by scoring on the following possession.  If only he could have done it late in the game.

Luis Scola -- He didn't take a shot in the first half.  Not one.  And yet, he still managed to go 10/12 with two steals.  Someone get Luis the ball before I run onto the court and do it myself.

Three Down:

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Kyle Lowry -- Lowry became selfish tonight, and whenever a subpar shooter is selfish, things like 0 for 6 from the field happen.  I do appreciate the aggressiveness, but it wasn't used wisely.

Ron Artest -- Ron took some bad, ugly shots, and when he drove, he didn't go up strong with his legs.  Brewer owned him in the paint.  His defense on Brewer wasn't very good either.  It was just a really bad game for him.

Brent Barry -- Bones went 0-3 from deep.  That pretty much sums up his night right there.  I could have put Von here, but I already ragged on him.

Stats of the Night:

Offensive Rebounds: Rockets 13 - Jazz 3.  We failed to convert on all but two of those second chance opportunities.

Rebounds: Rockets 52 - Jazz 42

Field Goal %: Rockets .348 - Jazz .447

3-Pointers: Rockets 10/26 - 4/14

Turnovers: Rockets 12 - Jazz 8

Assists: Rockets 19 - Jazz 23

Free Throws: Rockets 12/14 - Jazz 19/25

Blocked Shots: Rockets 6 - Jazz 12

Carl Landry:

We needed him.  He wouldn't have won the game at the rate we played, but he could have done some good against Milsap.  He can also finish inside, something we didn't do (for the 1000th time).  To state the obvious, I'm hoping Carl comes back really, really soon.

Next Game: Saturday vs. L.A. Clippers.  We must win this game.

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