This game was viewed through the prism of an ill child (nothing serious), so my thoughts are more fragmented that usual. I'll rely more on that last resort of scoundrels, statistics.
When one looks at the 76er starting lineup, it is pretty impressive:
Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala, Allen Iverson, Samuel Dalembert, Thaddeus Young.
That's a lot of talent, a ton of athletic ability. Elton Brand has in the past, been one of the finest players in the NBA at his position. Iguodala has one of the more well-rounded, athletic and interesting games in the NBA. Iverson, well, he's raging at the dying of the light, at any rate, and he looks to have something left. Yet the Sixers have now lost 12 straight games. Why? I (imagine I) hear you asking. Two words: The Bench.
Players seeing minutes from the Philly bench tonight include: Willie Green (25), Jason Kapono (17), Jrue Holliday (8), Jason Smith (3), Primoz Breszec (5).
Total points in 58 out of 240 possible player minutes? Six. I repeat. S-I-X.
Let's compare that to the Rocket's bench, total points: 46 in 84 player minutes. So Philly's bench scored roughly one point every 9.40 minutes. The Rockets bench scored a point every 1.5 minutes.
This is an object lesson in bench construction (and another reason why "WE © or Ω or √ MOREY" Guess what? No little "heart" thingy.). Houston, with 40% of an NBA payroll, has a bench that, frankly, buried Philly's in this contest.
That is not how the game started. Phily jumped on Houston early, prompting fears of the 76ers once again being a team that's pure poison for the Rockets, no matter how bad they look against the rest of the league. Then the benches matched up, and the Rockets closed a Philly lead that stood at 10 after the first quarter to 3 points at the half.
When outside observers look at the Rockets, I think they often make the mistake of looking at the starting lineup and saying "That's not a high caliber NBA lineup." Well, maybe not (though I disagree). But to understand the Rockets, you have to go 9-10 deep. You could start the Rocket's second unit and give up very little, overall.
The players aren't exactly comparable, with some offering more offense, some defense, so let's look at Win Shares so far in 2009-2010. The typical Rocket starting lineup boasts a 7WS total at this point. The second unit (of 4 players) is contributing 5WS - add an average rating of one starter from the first team and you get a total of 6.4WS for the second unit (as we've yet to see much of Taylor thus far). Point being, the Rockets give up little, or nothing, switching out almost their entire lineup. This, I submit, is a powerful, and under-appreciated, advantage.
Every Philly starter played 34 minutes or more, with the exception of Dalembert, who played 29. Brand logged 43, sitting down 5 minutes of the contest, and Iguodala saw 40. Only Ariza came close to that, going 42.
I'm very happy we didn't once again drop a game to the 76ers as we have done so frequently in the past. We need to win every single game against floundering opponents. We're going to struggle to hit .500 against the top teams, so we need to clean up on games against below .500 teams.
Iverson gave young Kyle Lowry and Aaron Brooks a lesson in drawing fouls and shooting FTs. Lowry is good at it, but AI is the past master, and he put on a "weak contact FT shooting" clinic in the 4th.
Carl Landry is one of the most valuable players in the NBA on a salary/production basis. I'm now surprised when a Landry shot doesn't go in, and the reasons why not usually break down to: uncalled foul on Carl, the shot was a bit out of his range. That's it.
Commenting on the Tracy McGrady All-Star Game "controversy": what would happen if TMac's first 2009-2010 game appearance was in the NBA ASG? Could the Rocket's keep him out of it, if he hadn't played for them to that point, but wanted to play in the ASG?
The Lakers are going for their 11th straight win tonight. Some Laker apologists have made an interesting argument that LA having 17 of 21 appearances at home to start the year isn't much of an advantage. After their recent run, can this assertion be supported? We'll have to see the record they compile when they actually do leave LA for more than 48 hours at a time to know more.
You know, every time I see those weird Charlie Sheen/Michael Jordan "Haynes Undergarments" ads I think a couple of things:
1. These are terrible ads. Are there two more unlikable pitch men than Pathetic Sheen, and Arrogant Michael Jordan, blowing him off? Who would those pitchmen be?
2. I always imagine Charlie Sheen is the head scout, or cap guru, for the Bobcats. He's trying to get Jordan to pay attention to some mundane franchise detail, like player signings, or budget, and MJ just drives away, late to a tee time.
Surprisingly, the Rockets are not playing a back-to-back on the road Saturday night. Next game vs Toronto in that mysterious and far-away land known as Canada.