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Game 54 - In which we meet Mr. Kevin Martin. Rockets 115 - Indiana 125

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115 should be enough to win.  Really, it should.  125 is too much to surrender to any team, particularly the Pacers, who have been woeful on the road.   Once again the Rockets build a double digit lead,  only to let it slip away. They completely failed to execute on offense in the 4th quarter.  I don't mean missed shots in crunch time, I mean complete failure to move the ball to an open man, or one turnover after another and a general sense of futility on offense.

Continuing this sort of play will not lead us to the playoffs.  It could lead to a lottery pick, which is not all that enticing to be honest.  I'd rather test these new look Rockets in the playoffs, if that's possible.

The Rockets seem to be willing to let a team's #1 guy compile a highlight reel against them this season, with Indiana's one and only star, Danny Granger, compiling 36pts on 12-17 shooting.  Honestly, he's a great player, and possibly the best player in the NBA nobody knows about.  But you can't let Granger run wild AND surrender 23 to TJ Ford.

Looking on the bright side, this game might just be one of growing pains, of adjusting to a new roster and maybe more importantly, the loss of Kyle Lowry.  Or it could be part of an ominous trend of late collapses that leads to the Rockets staggering to a below .500 record.  I'm going to take the positive view until we see what happens when Lowry gets back - please come back soon KLow7.

Now a return of Bullet Points (The Lazy Man's Friend (tm))

  1. Kevin Martin - Took a lot of shots, missed a lot of shots.  But almost all the shots he took were open ones, and he forced contact to head to the line on many occasions.  This is a man who averages 8 trips to the line per game.  He also filled up the scoresheet in other ways.  He notched 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.  He went 8-9 from the line, and scored 14pts in 31 minutes.  If we go by Martin's career eFG rate (since he took 3pters too) he'd score about 27pts on that many shots normally.  For a first outing, I have to say I like what I see - which is a tall, quick, fast SG who can score a ton of points in a very quiet and efficient way.  I think we're going to love him. 
  2. The Defense - Ouch.  Sure, some guys got hot on Indiana, and Martin doesn't know the rotations, but just ouch.  That was miserable.  We need an answer on D, and soon, but part of me is afraid it's not forthcoming.
  3. Garrett Temple - Looks like an NBA player.  At 6'5" with long arms he's a big asset at point.  I didn't see extreme playmaking ability, but I saw competence, defense, smart shots, and a general sense of belonging in the league.  I expect we'll keep him the rest of the way.
  4. Kyle Lowry - Please come back soon!  We need his defense, and his ability to spell Brooks, and the different approach he brings to the game.  Brooks looks a bit tired, doesn't distribute the ball as well as Lowry, and can disappear at times.  Nothing we didn't know, but once again, the inability to switch to Lowry's style of play cost us.  I think Ford might not have put on such a show for family and friends with Kyle minding the store.
  5. Chase Budinger and the "Scoring Unit" - The Rockets played very well with a "floor spacing" squad of Brooks, Martin, Budinger, (I think) Battier, and Andersen.  They just scored in bunches, and while D wasn't really in evidence, it wasn't much in evidence for the second half anyway.  
  6. Chuck Hayes - A tough night against the genuinely talented, and genuinely 7'2" Hibbert.  That's a bad matchup for the Chuckwagon.  He did his best, but he wasn't allowed to play his kind of D on Hibbert or other Indy big men.  Almost any poke at the ball drew a whistle, while Hibbert, and Granger, were allowed to lower their shoulders, and push off at will.
  7. Danny Granger - Please hypnotize Indiana and get him for us, Daryl.
  8. No Brian Cook - This made me sad, in a strange way.  I wonder what Brian Cook will do now.
  9. The Other New Rockets - We didn't see them at all.  Martin is familiar with Adelman's system and terminology, and will slot in quickly.  I'm less sure when we'll see the others.  Hopefully Adelman isn't going to wait half the year to play them, since there's only 28 games left.
  10. The Towel - It's too soon to throw it in, especially not with Martin joining us.
  11. Carl Landry - I think he's going to be beloved in Sacramento.  Those are some passionate fans out there, and they'll find out how good he really is soon.
  12. TMac - Spotted alive, seemingly well, and playing pretty good basketball in New York City.  Somehow you knew that would happen.
That's all I have, along with this bitter taste in my mouth from another winnable game we let slip away.  A few more of these and summer will start early for the Rockets.