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Game 69 Recap: Rockets 88- Bulls 98

Ask not for whom the bull tolls, it tolls for us.

This whole season has never quite come together.  In very few games have the Rockets been unambiguously better or worse than their opponent.  Mostly the team has had a reasonable chance to win its games.  But it has been hard to put together all the positive qualities needed to win into every, or even most games.  If the offense is clicking, the D vanishes.  If the D is strong, shooting evaporates.  If the front court has been doing well, someone gets hurt, or gets cold.  And the same for the backcourt.  If it is all working, the game is refereed by evil flying monkeys.  

Tonight was more uneven than usual.  It was Houston pothole uneven, and the Rockets lost. With this loss, coupled with the loss to Boston last Friday, the team is almost assuredly out of the playoffs, barring an unforeseen losing streak by either Portland or San Antonio, coupled with some "no doubt" wins for the Rockets.  Just keep breathing.  No need to hold it in for that scenario.

Like most games the Rockets have lost this season, they could have won it.  After a typical miserable start the Rockets found their stride, taking a small lead into half-time.  

Then came the 3rd quarter blizzard.  Rarely have I seen a team go this stone, ice, polar, cold.  Sure, the Bulls played D, and Rose proved himself to be a nightmare matchup for Brooks, but seriously, even the 2 footers wouldn't drop. The Rockets scored 13, I repeat, 13 points in the third quarter.  I've watched this team score 13 in 4 minutes.  Add in a 4th where they vastly improved that output to 21 points and the result was predictable.

Now let's add injuries to the picture.  Battier wasn't available after his knee injury, and we lost Jordan Hill to a sprained ankle, and Jared Jefferies for what looks to be a long time with an Achilles injury.  

All in all a very expensive trip to Chicago.

Three Up

Luis Scola managed 22-10 and 4 assists with the flu.  His shooting, too, was way off.

Trevor Ariza had a nice all around game. He scored 18 on 6-14 shooting, and even went 2-5 (40% ya know) from 3pt range.  He added 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals in the sort of performance I think everyone was expecting from him all along.  He attacked the basket aggressively and took very few meandering trips into the paint with no clear plan.  When he attacked the rim, he did it with authority, and in a very natural way.  Ariza's game seems to work best when he's slashing, running the break and shooting wide-open treys rather than thinking about the optimum play.

Vinny Del Negro was ejected for his hair.  No wait, it was for running on the court with that hair.  Also we didn't have to see a lot of Joakim (did you know my dad was a famous tennis player?) Noah prancing about.

Three Down

The icy frigid 3rd and 4th quarters.  The Rockets shot woefully, and yet, with 2 minutes left, had pulled within 3 points.  Then Rose and Hinrich made a bunch of shots in a row and that was that.  But just shooting a tepid 35% would have been an improvement in the 3rd, and we might never have fallen behind.

If the 3rd and 4th quarters were a blizzard, Aaron Brooks was the snowman.  A 3-17 snowman.  Rose did a good job on him (and the reverse cannot be said) but Aaron just didn't have it tonight.  Even layups he usually makes went short, rattled out, clanged away, or somehow ended up a turnover.

Spurs beat OKC in OKC where the Oklahoma City Thunder (sorry Seattle it's over, let it go) never seem to lose.


So.  Yeah.  It looks bad.

Injuries again.  Needless losses, again.

Dream about Chris Bosh if you like.  I won't tell.  (But he'll only be a Rocket in your dreams.)