USA TODAY Sports
The Rockets got rocked at home by the Warriors on Sunday night. What went wrong?
The Rockets fall to the Warriors 108-78 and are now 36-31 and a game and a half out of the sixth seed. The only consolation is the Rockets still hold the tie breaker against the Warriors should they end up with the same record as Golden State.
Three thoughts on the game
1) Another slow start for the Rockets, but unlike the Timberwolves game, Houston could not muster enough to comeback and win this one. The Warriors entered this game having lost their last nine games in Toyota Center but more importantly were the 6th seed and played like a team looking to maintain its position in what is fast becoming a though race for playoff positioning. Houston could not have played a more terrible first half, shooting 19.6% from the field. In the last 7:30 of the first quarter the Rockets missed their last 12 shots. Capitalized by a missed Thomas Robinson dunk when the ball slipped out of his hand. In the first quarter the Rockets had 10 points tying a season low for a quarter and shooting 3/23 from the field. Food for thought: The Rockets top scoring half and quarter of season was against the Warriors in Toyota Center. Now, fewest points in half and quarter of the season come against the Warriors too.
2) If you live by the three, you die by the three. Houston was 9/35 from behind the arc for only 25.7%. The Rockets had to launch 35 threes because the frontcourt duo of Andrew Bogut and David Lee made things impossible for James Harden, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons in the lane. Bogut and Lee combined for three blocks and 22 rebounds. Not to mention how many shots were altered because of their height. When Bogut and Lee weren't in the lineup it was Festus Ezeli clogging the lane. The Rockets have no post presence on their roster, which means Harden, Lin and Parsons have to rely on their shots to drop when the lanes is clogged. More on post presence in the player ratings below.
2) There is a point that is more talked about with this young Rockets team than any other point and that is defense. When the Rockets want to play defense they turn into a lock down defensive team that turns those defensive stops into points. Case in point the start of the third quarter. Houston started the third quarter on a 26-8 run, yes much of it was because the Rockets started hitting shots but their defense helped start much of their fast breaks and allowed them to get back into the game. The Rockets got within five points at 62-57 but Golden State went on a 13-3 run to keep the Rockets at bay. The majority of the Warriors points coming on wide-open shots or defensive lapses. The kind of lapses that are a young basketball team will commit.
Player Grades (on 1-10 scale):
Jeremy Lin: (6.5) 21 pts and 4 assists on 9/16 shooting
- On a night when his team couldn't hit the ocean with a rock if they were on a boat, Lin was the engine that drove the Rockets third quarter comeback. When Lin plays aggressive he is a more efficient player. The problem for Lin is the aggressiveness is not always there from him. Especially when you compare his numbers to his Warriors counterpart, Stephen Curry, who put on a show, going for 29 points and 11 assists.
James Harden: (7) 21 pts, 10 rebounds and 8 assists on 6/16 shooting
- Harden continues to struggle shooting the ball but his best asset when his shot isn't falling is how he manages to still be relevant. The beard was two assists shy of a triple-double and would have gotten it easily if the Rockets could have hit a couple of shots. The Warriors opted to double-team him and make the rest of the Rockets beat them, but this team Houston could not hit their shots. Boguts' length has hurt Harden in games against the Warriors and it's something to keep an eye out going forward, especially heading into the playoffs. Teams will make note of that and opt to use the same tactics.
Chandler Parsons: (4) 9 pts and 2 rebounds on 2/13 shooting
- Where was Parsons tonight? Did anybody see him? As much praise as Parsons has received this season, and much warranted at that, he buckled in one of the biggest games this season. The Rockets needed their second year forward to facilitate the offense at times but he seem reluctant to do so. Look for Parsons to have a bounce back game Wednesday against Utah, another important game.
Donatas Motiejunas: (3) 4 pts and 3 rebouns on 2/11 shooting
- Motiejunas had one of his worst games in a Rockets uniform. If there is any consolation is that he wasn't the only one. When his shot isn't falling it is best for Motiejunas to work in the post where his quick hook shot and fast feet often leave defenders with their feet planted in cement. If he were to get more possessions in the post that will not only help his confidence but also give the Rockets offense another arsenal.
Omer Asik: (5) 6 pts and 11 rebounds on 3-5 shooting
- It's hard to scold Asik for his performance, as he's not paid to score but to protect the rim and grab rebounds. Defensively he held Bogut to 12 points and his interior defense made the Warriors shoot from outside the paint. The problem is that Golden State hit those shots.
Notable bench players:
Carlos Delfino: (6.5) 12 points on 4/11 shooting
- Delfino started the fourth quarter playing like a man hell bent on bringing the Rockets back. Delfino had the Rockets first nine points in the fourth quarter helping the Rockets go on a 9-2 run and within 10. He hit back-to-back threes and then curled to the basket for a tough and-1 the Delfino way.
The Rockets welcome the Utah Jazz to Toyota Center Wednesday night in what is now another important game that will help determine Houston's playoff positioning. What did you think of the Rockets performance? Were the player grades warranted or too harsh?