As they have been prone to do in recent weeks, the Rockets sat back and took a barrage of layups, dunks, and wide open three pointers in the first quarter as they fell behind seventeen to a very solid Indiana Pacers team. When the final horn sounded, the Rockets had failed to erase that deficit and lost 100-91.
It was a night where the starters were never able to get going; Jeremy Lin was ineffective early and was replaced by Patrick Beverley for most of the night, Donatas Motiejunas fought foul trouble and an inability to put the ball in the basket and he too saw the bench for the night, and Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik, and James Harden were all inconsistent in their efforts against a stout Pacers defense.
Paul George, Roy Hibbert, and the rest of the Pacers' defense cut into the Rockets' offensive output, but the Rockets' lack of effort and mental focus throughout the contest was absolutely maddening. In one instance, James Harden threw up an ill-advised long jumper, complained about the call, and then watched Paul George beat him down the court for an uncontested layup.
Simply put, it was a night where little seemed to go right. However, even in the worst of nights, there was something to be excited about. The Rockets' young backup bigs, Greg Smith and Thomas Robinson, came off the bench midway through the first quarter and outplayed their starter counterparts all night.
Smith in particular impressed on his way to a 19 point,18 rebound outing, the latter figure being a career high. Smith worked exceptionally well in the pick-and-roll with James Harden, beating the Pacers' bigs to the spots and finishing over the top with his massive athleticism.
With the playoffs in sight, games like this one really hurt to lose. Unfortunately, every team has nights where nothing seems to fall and the other team has every break go its way. Tonight was one of those nights. The Rockets were outplayed, outworked, and outlucked, and it ended in a disappointing loss. Let's hope this is an isolated incident, because the schedule doesn't get any easier. The Grizzlies and the Clippers lurk in a Friday-Saturday back-to-back.