Game 24 Recap: Rockets Butcher Kings 118-105

For a while, it looked like the Rockets would lose this game. That is, for the first half of the first quarter or so, the Rockets looked absolutely as awful as they've looked in their worst moments this season -- incapable of defending the interior, getting completely beat up by a bigger and more physical team. Adelman blames that on simply not being "into it," which I suppose is an adequate description of just generally sucking in an entirely baffling manner (coincidentally, I'd use the same words to describe the season thus far).

But Scola and the second unit succeeded in shoring up the defense and pressing their natural offensive advantage, and after that, well, not much happened. It's one of those games that is so nice to see as a Rockets fan, if perhaps not as a basketball fan.

The Rockets dominated basically ever aspect of the game after that initial meltdown. The Kings threw the ball away at seemingly every opportunity (the Rockets finished the game with a 18-10 turnover advantage), and that initial advantage in rebounding dissappeared after the first quarter. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the sudden improvement in defense and rebounding coincided with Jordan Hill's entrance.

Overall, the game showcased what has become the best Rockets offense in years (maybe decades - and made all the better given the Rockets' general poor play thus far). Lowry, Ish, Lee, and Budinger (okay, basically the bench and Lowry) shoved the fast break down the Kings' collective throat, and ball movement was about as good as we can expect right now. If there was really any downer for this game, it would be Kevin Martin's poor play in the second half, but I suppose that he didn't play much after his initial surge, anyways. More will be needed of him against OKC.

Four Up:

Kyle Lowry: His three-point shooting might be a fluke, it might not, but in any case he's making a strong case for replacing AB as starter when Brooks finally returns.

Jordan Hill: Playing against Rockets fans' former golden boy, Hill played a pretty solid game and continues to justify being their current golden boy. Threw up a few weird shots, but I guess that's allowed when you're blowing out the other team. Also made a really sick dunk, and that counts for triple points in Kim Jong Il's basketball rules, I'm told.

Luis Scola: Got a double-double early in the third quarter, continues to be awesome, etc.

One Down:

The First Quarter: It would probably be easy to dismiss the problems of the first few minutes as jitters or "not being into it," but I think it's demonstrative of several problems the Rockets are having. As much as the starters are basically the same team that played last season as an average defensive team, it really is pretty weird that they continue to be so bad at interior defense (and those problems inevitably spread - metastasize, if you will - into other problems: perimeter defense > turnovers > offense > etc.). But if these really are purely mental/preparatory issues, then that lends some greater hope for the coming months (or perhaps it makes these past months all the more annoying).

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