Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
The Houston Rockets didn't bring their A-game. Thankfully, neither did the Denver Nuggets. But Denver's D-game was enough to take down Houston's F-game, if you feel me.
You might not see an uglier basketball game all season long. I hope you won't, at least. Remember the really ugly lady on The Drew Carey Show? What was her name... Mimi, I think? This game was uglier than Mimi, bless her heart.
The Rockets still can't hit the broad side of a barn from three-point range, and I mean that literally. Aside from Carlos Delfino, Pat Patterson and Chandler Parsons, nobody landed a single long-range bomb. That includes Jeremy Lin, who I am convinced is out to set the record for worst three-point percentage in a single season. My, has he been awful from behind the arc or what?
Fortunately, Lin's defense helped contribute to the one thing that kept the Rockets in the game the entire night: Denver was also horrid on offense. They shot the ball well, but that was provided they got their shots.
At the end of the day, Denver's stout defense — can't say enough about how well Andre Iguodala played James Harden — was enough to keep the Rockets at bay. And make no mistake, the Rockets fought really, really hard. The talent just doesn't stack up, not yet. We keep seeing the same boneheaded mistakes we should expect to see from a team whose veteran leader is Carlos "Hero Mode" Delfino. It's going to cost Houston all season long, especially in the close games.
(You know what else cost Houston tonight? Rim-outs on threes. I counted five, three of which came in the final minutes. It's a game of inches, says everyone. Well, everyone is right.)
You might say, "Play the rookies!" Well, that's going to make these turnovers and dumb plays increase exponentially. We'll see the rooks eventually, but I think we should let the starters figure things out before we give them even MORE youth to have to work with.
The referees weren't great, but they were far from the reason the Rockets lost this one. Far from it.
Anyway, tonight's six Rockets on watch:
Patrick Patterson — His best game of the season and maybe of his career. Patterson singlehandedly kept the Rockets in the game in the third quarter. That three-point shot? That looks nice.
Carlos Delfino — Carlos is going to either be really good or really bad on any given night. In this one, he made his shots and even tried to play point guard. We'll give him a star for trying, even though I hope he never tries this again.
Omer Asik — The big man pulled down 13 more rebounds in just 22 minutes. He also had a few nice finishes in the lane. And at the same time, he missed a few of the easiest layups ever, again.
Jeremy Lin — Defensively, Lin forced enough chaos (six steals) to merit a passing grade despite a mostly good night from Ty Lawson. But on offense, Lin looked as out of sorts as we'll ever see him, hopefully. He wasn't looking to shoot when he was open, and he forced outside shots that were contested. The pick and roll looked horrible as well, and Lin — along with Harden — seemed content to simply move the ball around the outside, thereby wasting a solid ten seconds of shot-clock time. Lawson proved a tough matchup for Jeremy, but he's going to have to start finding some confidence.
James Harden — Harden came alive in the fourth quarter, but for the first three quarters, he couldn't find a lane. The first four times he stepped foot in the paint, he was stripped of the ball. Each time. Harden isn't going to get the superstar calls yet, and he hasn't found a pick-and-roll partner that can make him even more dangerous. He'll have his good nights, but these games should be expected every now and then as well, especially against league-best defenders.
Marcus Morris — Thought he looked miserable out there. Morris has had a few good games, but his points have come mostly in areas that are fairly simple: Hitting open two-point jumpers and finishing on the break. As for hitting open threes? Morris isn't making them, and that's paramount to including him on the floor. He's a "scorer" who is having a lot of trouble finding his shot. Maybe I'm overreacting, but that's really, worrisome.
Note: VGB hands us the stats in the comments. 18 turnovers. Gave up 16 offensive rebounds. Shot 36.9% from the field and 24.2% from three.