On a night where Patrick Beverley looked more dynamic than James Harden for spurts, it would be hard to imagine the Rockets doing very well. Behind a tremendous performance by Paul George and Paul George, the Pacers handily beat the Rockets, 105-95.
The Rockets trailed from the start in this one, and dreadful performances in the first and third quarter doomed them to a ten point loss that never seemed particularly in doubt. After Carlos Delfino went off for ten points in a row and James Harden hit a pair of free throws with 1:46 left in the fourth, the Rockets had pulled within seven, but a few timely scores by Indiana put the Rockets away.
Let's go inside the game in a bit more depth, looking at a few individual performers a bit more closely.
1) Pat Beverley Looks Like an Absolute Player
I wrote about Patrick Beverley last game, so I don't want to sound like a broken record, but Patrick Beverley has added some tremendous youth and athleticism to the bench rotation and looks like he'll be a mainstay on the court.
His shooting percentage was not in the stratosphere like it had been in previous contests, but Beverley was all over the floor, dishing out assists, picking up rebounds, and blocking shots. Though Toney Douglas has been playing very well all year, Beverley is simply a more complete player, and he looks to have taken the spot away from Douglas.
In an otherwise gloomy six game losing streak, Beverley has been a ray of light. Let's hope he can keep this up and make Rockets fans forget all about the legend of Toney Douglas.
Not to pile on, but this is one of the funnier interviews in NBA history:
2) James Harden's Struggles Continue
We talked about this on the G+ hangout last night, but James Harden (and others) seem to have hit the proverbial wall that young players hit midway through a season where their roles have increased. Tonight, those struggles continued as Harden went 5-19 from the field for just 17 points.
His shooting from behind the arc seemed fine, but the combination of the referees' letting the two teams play and a lack of finishing touch kept Harden in his mini-slump tonight, as he just couldn't get anything going. You know it's a bad night when late in the fourth quarter you're screaming for Harden to just give the ball up to Carlos Delfino.
Also, from ESPN Stats & Info:
James Harden's streak of leading Rockets in scoring outright comes to end at 20 games (Omer Asik led with 22 pts in loss to Pacers)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 19, 2013
3) The Rockets Power Forwards Were Awful
Dreadful. Vomit-inducing. Painful. Despicable. Pick a negative adjective and it probably describes the Rockets' power forward play tonight. Marcus Morris continued his awful play in January (<35% shooting on the month) with a delightful 0-5 shooting night and Patrick Patterson went 1-8 while making just a single three pointer.
With neither Motiejunas nor Jones NBA-ready, if the Rockets want to challenge for the playoffs this year, they're going to have to go outside the organization at the four. Once again, we talked about the Paul Millsap trade rumors last night on the podcast (shameless plug), and he'd certainly be a game changer this year.
However, is the short-term gain worth the potential long term loss? Patterson and Morris are not going to be getting us Paul Millsap, expiring contract or not. Do we really want to sacrifice our last few precious trade chips for an solidly above average power forward? Personally, I think Morey has bigger long term plans for this team.