Ladies and gentleman, lottery defense!
Isn't this such unfamiliar territory? Debating over whether or not losses are actually a good thing? I'd like to believe that the Rockets are going to tough it out and win as many games as they can, which makes tonight's loss particularly embarrassing. At this point in the season, the Rockets would benefit from still playing to win, but with different personnel. Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, Jermaine Taylor - all of the young guys should see as much time as the typical starters.
Up to this point, I've been happy with how all three rookies have progressed over the course of the year. Budinger seemed to hit a rookie wall midway during the season before picking up things of late. He's become much more comfortable with his shot, and he is learning how to utilize his talents properly - less driving, more running through screens, spotting up, and running the fast break. Jermaine Taylor has been a pleasant surprise as well, albeit in short spurts. He's able to drive in the lane with confidence, and, among other things, is quite a talented passer. With rookies, you don't look at the big picture as much as you point out flashes of talent. In that regard, Taylor has been a very impressive rookie. I don't think we need to say anything else about Hill - if he puts on a few pounds in the offseason, watch out.
It can't be overstated how important it is that these rookies are seeing time, though. You look at Gerald Henderson in Charlotte and think, "Man, if only that guy was seeing more playing time, he'd have something to build off of entering next season." Our rookies are getting some valuable experience, and it's a tribute to Adelman for giving them minutes. The injuries don't give him much choice, but even when our rotation guys are healthy, Rick has trotted out the rooks. Some coaches have egos that don't believe in giving rookies an opportunity.
As for the game itself, there was good and bad. Some good flashes of offense from the young guys, and plenty of bad, kindergarten defense. Kevin Martin had no business being on the court if he was only going to take five shots. His shoulder still doesn't look healthy, and as Bill Worrell pointed out, he hasn't been able to lift weights in a long time, which hinders his ability to drive. Trevor Ariza had been playing well lately, but only shot 2-9. If Martin plays better, so does Ariza.
Budinger, Lowry, and Hill were the "stars" for the Rockets, scoring 17,16, and 15 points, respectively. But, again, nobody played defense, so it didn't really matter. AJ Price, Roy Hibbert, and Josh McRoberts all had big games, and that should never, ever happen.
I don't know what to make of the Rockets' season at this point. They can suddenly go into Boston and steal one from the Celtics, but then lose to Indiana by 31 the next night. It's going to be a countdown to lottery night for sure. Hopefully, things will still be entertaining, and the young folks will continue to see time and stay healthy.