The look on James Harden's face really encapsulates the game... - Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
The Houston Rockets arrived in San Antonio and rejuvenated a Spurs team many thought old. The Spurs manhandled the young Rockets blowing them out by 22 points.
The game started off sloppy on both ends. Harden was quick to cut through the lane and Jeremy Lin was doing a good job of penetrating the lane. Unfortunately the Rockets seemed jerky on their shot release and frazzled. Fortunately, the Spurs failed to really capitalize early on the Rockets poor play. Defense looked uninspired with the most effort mustered early on was to raise a hand in the general direction of your man. The worst part of that effort is that the hand was usually two feet away from the shooter. Houston couldn’t get a shot to fall no matter how wide open it was. Fortunately, James Harden wears a Rockets uniform now and he began finding creative ways to force opportunities. Namely, weaving in between space and getting fouled. Poor transition defense marred Harden’s efforts in the first, however, as Spurs players regularly sprinted past the younger Rockets. Nothing about that sentence felt ok to type… Oddly enough, another sentence to type that makes me feel dirty is thankfully Toney Douglas and Carlos Delfino came on towards the end of the first. The Spurs ball movement killed the Rockets to close the first quarter, though and the Rockets entered the second quarter a little shaken (Evidenced by a really bad turnover by Patrick Patterson with ten seconds left on the clock).
The second quarter didn’t really get off to a better start than the way this game began. The Spurs ran cutters through the defense beautifully and the Rockets looked like they would have been better served taking notes rather than trying to stop San Antonio. Sadly, I wish there was something to note of this second quarter but really, it was just ugly basketball. It was one of those games where the stark differences between an established squad like San Antonio and young squads like the Rockets were on display. The Rockets seemed intent on either turning the ball over, blowing open shots, or refusing to play with any form of discipline. The Spurs at that alive. I’m not sure what’s said in the huddle when a time out is called but it doesn’t seem to register. I say that because the Rockets come out of each time out settling for jump shots and don’t really start attacking the basket for a couple of minutes. It’s stretches like this that make me want to say a couple things to people complaining about Comcast and the broadcast rights. First, if you were vehemently anti-rebuild for the Rockets, your right to complain didn’t exist. Second, for tonight’s Spurs game? Send Comcast a thank-you letter. The Rockets entered the half trailing 45-57.
The third quarter started with the Rockets showing some semblance of urgency to get the score up as quick as possible. Unfortunately they did this by jacking up three point shots, not executing, not defending, and not really correcting most of the mistakes they made in the first half. The Rockets trimmed the lead to eight points with 7:30 to go in the third quarter thanks in no small part to a quick offensive burst by James Harden and some lane gambling but the Spurs are unflappable. And because that’s a thing, nothing is ever really a given against them. The only open shots the Rockets seemed to be able to get were hurried attempts in the mid range area. Unfortunately creating a shot out of chaos doesn’t tend to yield a positive result that often. With the lead blown out by the Spurs the Rockets began realizing that Carlos Delfino is a streaky three point shooter who is kind of good at it when he’s on. He still needs better tattoos. Tiago Splitter continues to abuse the Rockets defense and all I can think is that as much as I loved Aaron Brooks, the Rockets could have acquired Splitter’s draft rights and I really wish they would have. Not because of what he’s doing tonight but because of what he could have been in Houston. I feel the same way about Kawhi Leonard. Why do the Spurs have all the nice things the Rockets passed up on? 87-65 deficit for the boys in red heading into the fourth quarter.
With 10:38 in the fourth, the Spurs subbed in their trash time players. The Rockets still refuse to admit they have any rookies on the bench as the Spurs stretch the lead to 28 points. Admittedly, I spent the first two minutes watching a video on the Tosh.0 blog that creeped me straight out. The clock dipped to under 10 minutes left in the game with the lead stretched out to 30. Houston couldn’t get it together in the game and Sampson still refuses to play Donatas Motiejunas. It’s curious as to why you bother calling a guy like that up from the D-League if you’re not going to give him time. He needs to develop and game time (NBA or D-League will do it). Rockets lose, deservedly 92-114.
1.) The San Antonio Spurs. They showed the Rockets what they need to grow into one day. They managed to out-run the Rockets, move the ball better, and execute their offense. They exposed the Rockets for their youth and then took their lunch money.
2.) James Harden. Big, woop, wanna fight about he posted 29 points, 5 assists, and only 3 turnovers.
3.) Turnovers from the starting backcourt. Jeremy Lin and James Harden only turned the ball over 5 times. Granted, that’s one Omer Asik performance tonight.
1.) Omer Asik. Sorry buddy, you earned it tonight. You limped out of the game with a -23 +/-. You pulled 5 rebounds down (Or one for each turnover) and scored 0 points. You stone handed a lot of passes tonight too, which didn’t help. I shall await the fury of TDS’s robust Turkish community to yell at me for criticizing you.
2.) Ball movement. Rockets, it’s that thing where you share the ball in a non-frenzied manner. Everyone has that one friend who has no clue what phrasing or tonal control is, that was you, tonight, trying to pass the ball. It was chaotic, sad, and annoying to watch. Crisp movement, intelligent movement, and for the love of God CLASP THE FRIGGIN BALL WHEN YOU DRIVE!
3.) Kelvin Sampson. When you’re down by 30, you don’t keep Carlos Delfino out there. You swap in a lineup that features Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas. You can go ahead and keep Aldrich out there. What’s wrong with Douglas/Cook/Jones/Motie/Aldrich in a blowout? Hell, swap Cook for Morris, I aint’ scared. When a game gets this out of hand there’s no excuse to keep anything resembling a starter or integral rotation player out on the floor. What kind of command do you have on this team, either? I See them come out of timeouts with no resolve, no fire, and no coherence. That’s not really all that inspiring.
I’m going to go try to mentally Dran-o myself of this game. Try to purge your mind with some of Prize Fighter Inferno’s new stuff off their Half-Measures album. Erizo Schultz features Claudio Sanchez and his wife doing vocals and Elm Stree Loverboy is a love song from the point of view of Freddy Kreuger. It’s got rock and a little electronic to it.