Final result : 98 : 107 Rockets win
General theme : the Rockets again got out of the gate roaring for the 3rd strait game, leading by 15 at the half with all the starters destroying the Pacers starting unit almost at will with some crazy ball movement. However they stunked it up in the 3rd quarter and the Pacers got back to as close as 1 bucket . But in the 4th quarter the 2nd team featuring Casspi and Garcia dominated and pulled the score to nearly 20 again at one point, but the Pacers avoided an all out embarrassment by pulling it to 9 by the end of the game.
General observation : the first team showed some chink in their armour for the first time in the pre-season, as they got hammered pretty bad in the 3rd quarter, for the first time it's not a shinny +10 or more across the board, but a +1 for Parsons -2 for Dwight +6 for Harden and -5 for Lin.
What essentially went wrong in the 3rd was the offense turned ugly, Dwight post ups worked poorly (5-13 from the field amazingly didn't draw one foul and turned it over 4 times.) a lot of weird iso plays for Harden and Parsons, and ball movement generally grinds to a halt after some of the most spectacular plays I've seen in a while in the first half. This became a lot better after Casspi / Garcia lineup came on which was why they pulled away again.
The Rockets plan A have been nothing short of magnificent so far in the pre-season, but they need to stick with it and not allow long lapses like they did this game. Dwight post up need to adjust more smartly to different matchups , in a game like this where it's against Hibbert with the Pacers obviously determined to pack the paint, he needs to try it less often.
General player outlook: keeping it simple
Lin : 17 pts on 35 min 4 assist 3 turnover 5 foul 3 steals : Lin was spectacular in the first half, where almost all his points came in and was at 3 assist to 1 turnover and 2 foul, but second half Lin along with the rest of the starters was a lot less successful, McHale intentionally played him a ton this game for good reasons obviously, (he played 7 more minutes than Harden.) it's overall a good game but stamina may be a concern , however he was full of highlight reels this game with dunks / block shots all over the place. Most encouragingly he drained his first 3 3 point attempt from the same position with the same result - nothing but net. Defensively he was insanely active as he was running around screens like a mad man, I felt tired just looking at how he and George Hill essentially play 30 minutes of tag around Roy Hibbert.
Harden : 21 pts in 28 min with 3 assist 2 turnover 4 fouls 3 rebound : Not unlike last game, his shots inside wasn't falling but was getting to the line, it's not pretty but you can't complain that much with 21 points in 28 min, I like how Harden and Lin are both more active on defense though
Parsons : 11 points 6 rebound 3 assist , not unlike the other guys, it' s tale of 2 half this game for Parsons, I'm convinced that he learned some ninja tricks at some point in his life as he seem to be able to make backdoor cuts where no one else could . and he had at least 2 ally oops this game. the problem was that in the 3rd quarter he tried multiple iso attempt...... and it ended about as badly as you would expect, including a Jeremy Lin style pump fake then travel call.
Jones : 2 points 6 rebound 2 blocks Jones looked the worst of the 3 games so far , bricking shots badly (1-8 yikes) and generally looking very unsure of himself when he shoots, though he did do well elsewhere, but he needs to be more confident in his shots.
Beverley : 2 points in 21 min 5 assist 1 TO 3 steal 2 fouls , Bev again had the highest +/- on the team, something to keep an eye out going into the year, offensively he moved the ball much more fluidly than Lin / Harden in the 2nd half, though he only scored 1 bucket and airballed a floater attempt (that he manage to steal back right away. hilariously.) He's very actively flying around to save balls as well. a relatively quiet but effective game from him.
Dmo : 17 min 10 points 4 rebound 2 assist 1 block 2 foul : probably the best Dmo game so far, he actually hit a 3 for one thing, and perhaps most importantly he felt like a big in the post this game on both side, instead of just a really tall wing player failing around. he boxed out and contested shots pretty effectively this game.
Casspi :well I'd think 3 awesome game in a role should end any real debate on him making the team right? he was again on fire all game long, with an absurd 9 rebound in just 23 min of play and 13 points, I think there was an article somewhere that noted Morey look for guys who have a knack of getting rebounds that they're anywhere close to and it feels that Casspi must have rated out really well on this SportsVU metric. he had multiple highlight reels again including a crazy mid air spin pass in transition and a hilarious Blake Griffin impression dunk (that got fouled) , holy shite where was this guy in the last few years?
Garcia : Cisco returns and picked up right where he left off, draining 5 open 3s and had 2 block shots in just 17 min of play, that was flat out mean of him. this Cisco / Brewer / Casspsi / Beverley 4 some late in the game was super fun as their active defense and free flow offense really sealed the game.
Greg Smith : Smith also made his return and also picked up right where he left off by picking up his first foul about 5 seconds after checking in /facepalm . he did have a nice slam when he connected with Dmo on a play but 3 fouls in under 3 minutes will send you to the depth of the bench in no time unfortunately. I thought some of the calls were questionable at best but man, 3 fouls in 3 min???
Brewer : Brewer also had his best pre-season outing so far by being an active defensive presence and also actually making some shots, you know your having a bad day when Ronnie Brewer drains his jump shots against you. he had 4 points 4 rebound 2 assist and a steal in just 8 minutes of play.
Canaan and Covington : again didn't do much in garbage time, neither have hit a 3 so far and that's their NBA calling card supposedly, so they probably should be appointing their rental apartments in Rio soon...
So that's the wrap up , generally another very positive game with the only worry being the 3rd quarter sludge that need to happen less in the regular season.