As pointed out by OAL, Utah on the second night of a back-to-back is statistically the worst place for a road team in the NBA (ahead of Denver). Add in the fact that Utah was pissed off after losing to Sacramento the night before, a game in which Tyreke Evans apparently bruised Deron (don't call him DeRon) Williams' ego, or self-esteem, or something. (In a side note, is there anything more pathetic than using a 48 minute "injury" to justify a poor performance? Why not just say "that wasn't such a good effort.") And let's not hear anything about the Jazz being on a back-to-back - it's what, an hour and twenty minute flight from Sacramento? The Jazzmen were snuggled in their beds before midnight.
Anyway, Williams evidently recovered quickly, as he poured in 20 points in the first quarter of last night's game. The rest of Utah did likewise, shooting at a 59% clip on 25 3pters, and a 68% pace for the night. Anyone who thinks Battier and Ariza (as well as Lowry) aren't crucial should think otherwise now. The Rockets lost by 23 despite scoring 110.
What was good last night?
- Kevin Martin - Speed Racer scored almost effortlessly, despite looking pretty tired at points. He poured in 32 points on 9-13 shooting, and 12-13 FT. This is what he does. I expect to see a 40pt outburst before the end of March.
- Garrett Temple - a 6'6" PG with a huge wingspan is nice to have coming off the bench. Temple has shown me he belongs in the NBA, and on the Rockets. The waiver of Brian Cook suggests Rocket's management is sold on him. With the next contract offer being for the remainder of the season, I expect to see him signed for the year, with an option for next season. The knock on Temple in his college career was that he is a good defender, but far too passive on offense. This passivity was not on display last night, as Temple took the ball to the basket with authority and either scored, or drew fouls. His size, and reach created several steals on defense, one of the few defensive bright spots of the night.
- Jermaine Taylor is showing signs of improvement, and unlike his garbage time appearances, looks to pass often on offense. He's already NBA caliber off the drive, and inside, but his shot needs some work.
- Chase Budinger played 40 minutes in the absence of Battier and Ariza. He didn't embarrass himself.
- At one time the Rockets were playing 4 rookies (including Andersen) and they were doing ok. This is a positive sign for the future.
- Jordan Hill played several minutes, and wasn't horrible. He's big and fluid, if somewhat befuddled-looking. I think a lot of quality time with Jack Sikma is in his future, and it will benefit him greatly. Remember, Carl Landry's slick post game was built in Houston, not at Purdue.
- Defense - Utah scored on a lot of layups, and open shots. A guy charging the shooter after the ball leaves his hand isn't all that useful. Brooks, Martin, Budinger will score a lot of points for you, but against a smart gifted PG and a disciplined offense like Utah, it can be ugly.
- Another M-F'in back-to-back with two tough matchups. Holy crap. How many is this? It's been said before, but this is honestly the most absurd schedule I've ever witnessed unfolding - other than the time the Astros went on the road for like 1 1/2 months.
- Utah beat us again. The Rockets should have taken them down last time in Houston, and they let them off the hook.
- Despite Adelman going to the bench early, it took an intentional Williams foul to get the Utah bench into the game in the 4th. Apparently Utah's vile dipsomaniac of a coach was cool with keeping his starters in with a 24 point lead.