I was trying to think of a good title for this recap, but "Portland Has Dysentery on the Oregon Trail" seemed to be in poor taste.
Hot Shooting Early...Again
Remember when the Rockets kept getting off to poor starts and had to use the middle quarters to claw their way back into the game? Oh yeah, that was last week.
Suddenly, the Rockets are starting off hot as wildfire. Tonight was the newest chapter of Resurgence Week for the Rockets, as Houston started 10-13 from 3 and 67% overall in the first half and led 71-56 at the half. The defense wasn't great, but the offense couldn't miss. Mostly, the good guys kept LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard in check in the first 24 minutes, but you knew the Blazers weren't going away.
Patrick Beverley Gets His Own Section Of The Recap
Patrick Beverley was +26 in 29 minutes. I could go on and on about how his defense was spectacular, or how his scorching hot first quarter set the tone for the Rockets to get out to a double digit lead.
If Chandler Parsons is the heart of this team, Beverley is its soul. His desire takes the Rockets and puts them in a different stratosphere. He finished with 17 points, 3 assists, and a steal. Beverley rarely goes outside of his game, which is important on a team with Dwight Howard and James Harden. The Rockets need Beverley to defend point guards and to hit open threes. He did that tonight.
The Second Half Collapse?
Did you know the Rockets only scored 19 points in the second half against the Thunder?
Because the Rockets only scored 19 points in the second half against the Thunder.
You see, they scored 73 points in the first half, but they only scored 19 in the second half.
19 is not very many points.
73 is a lot of points.
So that's a big discrepancy. Because 73>19.
TNT liked to bring this up.
TNT liked to bring this up...a lot.
TNT liked to bring this up a lot because they only scored 19 points in the second half against the Thunder.
Now you know.
Rockets Say "F You, TNT!"
8 minutes into the third quarter, the Rockets had scored 22 points. They finished the period with 34, which matched the Blazers. That's important because the Blazers lead the league in third quarter scoring. When the Blazers got within 6 and every call seemed to be going for the visitors, James Harden and co. stepped up and pulled the lead back to double digits quickly.
At one point in the third quarter when the Blazers were on a run, TNT picked up audio of McHale imploring the team to play harder. He wasn't upset with execution and he knew the team was scoring, but he also knew that some extra hustle could put the game away. He was right, and that's what the Rockets gave him to end the quarter and start the fourth.
What's more, the Rockets began the fourth quarter without Harden and Howard. Meanwhile, the Blazers took a chance and left LMA on the floor. However, the Rockets bench (plus Parsons) held their own and stayed even with the Blazers. That was more than good enough for McHale, and when he put the starters back in the Rockets pulled away for good.
It seemed like every time the Rockets scored in the second half, they were shedding demons from four nights ago. The offense never looked lost and the ball movement was crisp. The Rockets continued to attack the basket and kept feeding Dwight Howard, who mostly made smart decisions about whether to go for his shot or to kick out to the perimeter when the double came.
Rockets Stepping Up
Terrence Jones suffered a thigh bruise yesterday, so the Rockets turned to Donatas Motiejunas. And it worked.
A couple of weeks ago, D-Mo looked shaken and willing to curl up in the fetal position to avoid taking shots. Tonight he looked like a pretty good T-Jones substitute. He finished with 9 points and 9 rebounds in 22 minutes. His defense was of decent quality, but foul trouble once again kept him on the bench longer than McHale probably would have liked. With no depth behind him, D-Mo was vital to the Rockets and helped the Rockets establish their game in the first half.
Chandler Parsons: 32 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 blocks, 12-19 shooting. Yeah, he outplayed Nicolas Batum. I'm sorry I doubted him.
Omri Casspi: 15 points and 8 rebounds in 33 minutes off the bench. He was called in to play the 4 for almost the entirety of his time on the court, and held his own for much of that time. He finished +10.
Finally, the Rockets as a group came up huge. Any time a team goes 2-1 in the Texas Triangle and you're their one loss, you've got to be doing something right.
Here Comes The Kryptonite
The Sacramento Kings visit the Toyota Center on Wednesday. The Kings are 2-0 against the Rockets this season, and the Rockets lost to them the first time after winning a huge game in Oakland.
See you Wednesday folks!
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