This is what happens when the defense totally collapses. The Rockets posted a defensive efficiency somewhere around 1.27 tonight, which would be a pretty good offensive night for the Suns. Given that OKC isn't much better than Houston on the offensive end, it should be clear how and why the Rockets totally lost control of this game.
And it happened relatively early. The Thunder had a ten-point lead partway through the first quarter, and the Rockets just never caught up with them. Sure, there were some points when it seemed like the Rockets might rally and at least make this a game, but it would be silly to characterize this as anything but a blowout loss.
This doesn't bode well for the Rockets' slim playoff chances at this point, particularly with critical games against the Lakers, Celtics, and Jazz coming up soon. But, of course, this loss comes after the frontcourt has been totally decimated, and the Rockets lost their best defensive player to a fairly lengthy knee injury, so we can easily dismiss this game as "meaningful."
But that doesn't take away this loss, and it doesn't change the fact that Battier, Hill, etc. will continue to be out for some time. Things aren't looking too good right now, Rockets fans. Fortunately, the Clippers are up next, but it's too late to be playing .500 ball.Three Up:
Trevor Ariza: Great game from Trevor. The rest of the team was slow to close out on defenders most of the night, Ariza played on both ends of the court admirably. Granted, Durant burned him a few times (one of the game's first plays was Durant crossing up Trevor and taking the ball easily to the basket - something that would happen, in various forms, over and over again), but Trevor exploited Durant's weak defense fairly well.
Chuck Hayes: Good offensive game, good defensive game, classic Hayes. I'm curious about why he wasn't on Jeff Green for much of the game, though.
Kyle Lowry: Relatively efficient night for Lowry. Pretty good assist numbers, too, considering that the bench was decidedly lacking.
Brooks/Martin/Scola: Ugh. Awful offensive games from our best offensive players. 44 points on 43 shots.
Defense: Failure to close out, failure to rotate properly, failure to stay in front of the offensive player. Hey, it'll happen, I guess.
Hilton Armstrong: See, I told you he sucked.