I'll keep it short and sweet. The Rockets couldn't get a call after the first quarter. Conversely, Memphis seemingly hit every circus shot they attempted, while the Rockets got whistled for any and everything. It was, altogether, a travesty of a game. By the middle of the third quarter, McHale wasn't sending his starters back in, and for good reason.
Kyle Lowry continues to play out of his mind. Watching him direct traffic on the court and bark out orders is really something to behold. He has made this team his own over the last year, and he has continued his latter-2011 season push into the first games of the compressed season. His stat line tonight (15 pts, 8 assists, 3 rebounds, and 4 steals) isn't so insane as his last few days, but when you consider it was in only 24 minutes while the refs called him very tight, it looks very impressive. The Bulldog is coming out the gate very strong, and I think it's for real. He's all over the court, and he seems primed to make the jump to All Star-Worthy this season.
Kevin Martin continued his good shooting from last night. 21 points on 11 shots is a classic Martin performance, and it (like Lowry's game) resulted from only 25 minutes of play. On the other hand, he finished the night with four personal fouls, which is something of a testament to how porous the Rockets' defense was tonight: when Speed Racer is bailing you out on plays, there's a problem.
The shocker of the game had to be Sammy Dalembert's poor play. While he had two blocked shots, he also had only two rebounds. For a guy whose main skill is rebounding, this is a major problem, but one that should probably be corrected soon. We all have bad nights.
Well, maybe the other shocker was Luis Scola's terrible night. But Luis was bothered early by a quick whistle and excellent defense from Zach Randolph (holy christ I hate typing that. Seriously I can't stand that guy). Scola was visibly frustrated for most of the night.
Patterson made his season debut and looked very rusty, having missed even the very shortened preseason. He hasn't been in a basketball game in months, after all. Most of the rest of the bench was terrible. The exception was Chandler Parsons, who put in an excellent performance once McHale largely threw in the proverbial towel. 13 points and 6 rebounds in less than 15 minutes is always good, after all. Parsons showcased a very nice shot and nice mobility on the court. Dave's complaint about Chandler wearing the Sacred Number 25 may have been prescient -- Xiane and I both noted that he is a very versatile player, not unlike one Robert Horry.
The commentariat seemed agreed that Kevin McHale needed to show some life on the bench -- get up and get thrown out of the game or something. I agree, but at least he recognized when he needed to exercise the better part of valor and just prepare for tomorrow evening. The Rockets have a game against the Atlanta Hawks in much less than 24 hours, and McHale likely gave the Rockets the better shot at getting two wins out of this back-to-back-to-back by just resting Lowry, Martin, and Scola and calling it a night.
The Rockets' defense was horrendous, and I don't think a lot can be done to fix that. The Rockets' starters aren't on the whole very good defenders -- only Lowry can claim to be a good one, after all; everyone else is average to terrible. Still, I think the Rockets can probably play with a zone defense while Dalembert is on the court -- he's mobile and an excellent rebounder, which is what you need from a zone center. Oddly, the Rockets' experiments tonight with the zone came when they were running their smaller lineup with Scola at center. I can see the reasoning there, but using it with Dalembert seems to make more sense.
Complaints about the refs go below.