So our two preview games have begun. The time of the season when coaches can begin getting a look at how their players stack against people they haven't been practicing with is a time for evaluation, technique development, and progress assessment. Is it a guaranteed thing that what you see in the preseason is a prequel to the actual season? Of course not. As it stands what stood out to me throughout this game was the progression of Jordan Hill and Hasheem Thabeet. Their techniques and motors seemed to have been found and Jordan Hill showed strong with 17 points and 13 rebounds (8 of which are offensive). Thabeet gave us 4 points, 3 rebounds, and a block but shot alterations don't show in the stat sheet and the Spurs recognized he was 7'3" and standing in the middle of the court for us. Hill contributed a block as well. Luis Scola continued his string of consistency with 20 points and 5 rebounds for the Rockets today.
What follows below is the live game journal I kept. It's not a formal recap but it gives you a quarter by quarter assessment of the Rockets, the player, the number, the offense in general (When noteworthy) and the defense in general (When noteworthy). Consider this an immediate reaction/small scale recap with actual valid analysis to come from my fellow writers in the coming days. Tomorrow you'll get my thoughts on things along with my new twitter hashtag #BD34sThabeetBandwagon
#4 Scola – Not shaken by the trade, fluid in the offense, not really surprised by any of it.
#12 Martin – Looks more to facilitate, first couple of shots didn’t fall, starting to run a motion offense weaving through the top.
#7 Lowry – Focusing more on driving, I appreciate it. Not really looking to jack up shots. The popular topic of the night is that Kyle Lowry has indeed slimmed down, toned his muscle, and no longer looks to be lugging around baby fat.
#10 Budinger – Looks lost out there trying to piece together his place. One in rhythm shot that you see as could have been passed up
#27 Hill – Really happy to see his footwork and movement in the post is improved. Looks to know just how important he is to our rebounding. Showed intelligence with the ball under the basket. I’m a big fan of his hustle, seems like he knows what he wants and how to get it. Needs to show a little more tenacity when it comes to his post game, got out-muscled by Tiago Splitter but I’ll take it.
#1 Williams – A bit excited when driving the lane, good elevation, needed to know what was going to happen when he took off. That will improve with actual minutes. In the offense he looks a little lost from time to time but the issue behind that is he just needs exposure. Beautiful drive, learning how to get his speed as an asset for himself.
#5 Lee – Corner 3 was all I’ve seen so far, good spacing.
#9 Flynn- I appreciate the fact that he knows he’s better when driving in to collapse a defense. Did a good job with it. Made some of the same mistakes Williams did, got excited and drove in too quick. Needs to recognize his mismatches. His speed near the end of the quarter made me happy on the inside.
#32 Thabeet – Needs his arms up on defense, got turned on his guy’s hip and caught with his pants down after the board. Good put back board and follow through, Flynn’s pass hit off his knee.
Defense – The team is actually moving and talking. Looks like the team is well aware of their spots and is actually on the floor to play defense. They seem a bit eager to collapse in and help from time to time but it gets them lost on shooters. That most likely has more to do with youthful excitement than an actual flaw.
Rebounding out of a free throw was a bit messy, team just collapsed on it.
When the one on one breakdown starts to take place our youngsters have a tendency to over commit, that’ll have to tone down with practice.
#4 Scola – How many different ways can you praise Scola’s offensive game? Not much to add to impressions here, he just produces. I stand by my comment that he is better than Bosh, would hate to see him out of Houston as a person, as a player, you can recreate him.
#7 Lowry – Knows how to use his aggression and drive properly. Kyle converted a brutal play where Dragic got leveled and I really appreciate how he absorbs contact.
#10 Budinger – Is it bad that I really want Budinger to have a horrible season so I don’t have to hear "Hey Bud, let’s party!" all the god damn time? Budinger seems to know if his shot is not going to fall he best go ahead and try to rebound. Part of me wonders if he sees Williams’ performance in practice and knows he has to step it up in case he translates it to the court. I’m actually really impressed by his rebounding.
#27 Hill – Beautiful recognition of the proper cut to make with the broken down play. I am loving Jordan’s follow up and his hustle on the offensive rebounds. I’m beginning to think I might have a little bit of an ability to see some talent in a guy.
#1 Williams – He was aggressive and paid for it and blocked shot on the drive. Poor charge call, Williams was driving properly, bad reputation call. You have to pay some credit to his aggression, needs to learn to use his body to create space. Air balled a 3 and I’ll come back to you when I discover how to actually craft an offensive game for him.
#5 Lee – I’ve been waiting to see Lee put up a good shot all game. Seemed intent on sealing off Ginobli’s left hand, which is the intelligent thing to do, but dry humping the screener isn’t the best of ideas.
#9 Flynn – Showing some good passing abilities and recognition, took the wrong spot on the screen but he made something of it, well done. Followed up a good possession by dribbling it out and launching a bad shot a la Francis. Consistency needs to be established.
#32 Thabeet – One hander and followed it up by converting the shot. So far so good. Beautiful one on one work and discourages shooters. Showing some slow improvement in his control of his body. Great offensive rebound, pass, and block in transition. I’ve been seeing a lot of good rebounding and intelligent passing from Thabeet near the end of the 2nd. Rockets end the half +13 with him.
#3 Dragic - Loving him running as the back up 2 guard, knows where his shot is, fully capable of handling the ball and freeing Lowry up. Impressed by his presence of mind after he could have shattered an ankle to feed the ball to Lowry, good recognition.
Offense – Beautiful movement to the offense early in the quarter, the team seems intent on moving the ball. The bigs are definitely looking to clean up the sins of the shots of the offense.
Defense – Good rotation and movement, having Thabeet in the middle is actually paying dividends. Happy to see McHale using the Thabeet/Hill rotation to clog up the middle, it was one of the combos I advocated last year and I have nothing but belief in it. This team definitely feeds its defense off its offense, the quickness Kyle is showing is something to behold.
#4 Scola – For a guy who is so automatic you gotta take the shot, Scola is too reliable with that jumper to wait so long to dish.
#12 Martin – Not sure I’m a fan of this McHale edition of the Rockets operating with Martin’s quick transition 3’s. Good play that had the potential for a break with Jordan breaking down the middle of the lane was passed up for a 3 pointer, which hasn’t been falling for him tonight.
#7 Lowry – He’s a fantastic floor general. I appreciate what he does for this team. Great recovery off his big men’s hustle.
#10 Budinger – Finally cans a 3 in the early goings of the 3rd.
#27 Hill – All he does is contribute and keep plays alive, I’m loving him in this game.
#2 Morris – Quality defensive stand, he’s definitely a dedicated player by not leaving his feet to intimidate his man. Has to watch the reach in when a player is coming at him on offense. Wondering if maybe Morris is trying too hard to prove himself, forcing some downright awful shots early. He’s a rookie, that’ll come with time.
#1 Williams – Shows up and instantly gets to work on the boards, he’ll need to rely on that if he is working his offensive jitters out. Good break down of the defense for a short pull up jumper, when he collects himself I think he can be pretty special.
#3 Dragic – I’m liking Dragic’s big presence defense.
Offense – Sadly there is a point where the youngsters get too nervous or too unselfish. Bad sequence around 2:30 where no one was willing to take the shot or take it to the hoop without trying to share the rock.
Defense – Transition defense is something that I haven’t really seen much of, the Rockets are keen to sprint right back and not relent on a possession, I’m liking that. The team’s defense seems to be predicated right now on gang rebounding but I’m not entirely sure that they need it. Jordan has been a dominant rebounder so far.
#27 Hill – Want blocks? He’s got them. Want hustle? He’ll give it to you? Boards? How many?
#2 Morris – When the play is extended a la Thabeet’s lanky arms gumming up a play he’s sure to get himself up in the air and draw some contact.
#1 Williams – I’m a fan of Williams’ recognition on the fast break to start the quarter, pass had to be corralled a bit and he did a good job of getting his hands on it for a layup. Williams is starting to feel it on offense, pulling it together. Seems like Williams is determined to be the anti-Lebron, big in the 4th quarter. Williams skies for a rebound and rips through two players to extend for a lay up, color me impressed.
#5 Lee – Called for an offensive foul, I’d rather get called for that and see him aggressive than keep seeing him hucking bad shots.
#32 Thabeet – Saddened by a confused rebound situation early in the 4th, collided with a teammate but I’ll let that go, it was another long shot for Morris who hasn’t really been able to connect so far. Thabeet does a good job of keeping plays alive with those lanky arms if he can’t manage to get his hands on the ball.
#3 Dragic – He showed good recognition to start the quarter with the pass to Williams.
#0 Smith – A couple decent plays, wouldn’t mind seeing him relegated to the D-League.
#17 Lin – Sure can dribble down a game clock.
Offense – Transition attack needs to focus more going towards the basket, the odd habit of pulling up in transition needs to go away, drastically reduced percentage to hit.
Defense – Switch defense needs to improve late in games, the Rockets seem content to mix their coverage. They’ll pop out on a guy and let the pass go around them without bothering to close out. The duo of Dragic and Williams is a nice little tandem for defensive purposes.