Coming off three disappointing losses in their last three high profile match-ups, the Rockets got a desperately needed win on Friday night, defeating the Boston Celtics by a score of 101-89. The Rockets, paced by Greg Smith, James Harden, and Chandler Parsons, rode hot shooting in the second half to erase a halftime deficit and cruise to the win.
The game, characterized by its streaky nature, saw the Rockets jump out to a thirteen point lead in the first quarter before the Celtics rode a 13-0 second quarter run to move past them, eventually leading the team to a two point halftime lead.
However, as the second half began, the Rockets got the ball moving well and scored with ease again, as the Celtics could not keep up on the break.
In the end, the Rockets got a much needed win and a boost to their spirits after a disheartening few weeks. Let's go deeper and see what went wrong and what went right in the win.
1) Greg Smith Goes Nuts
Looking back, it's absolutely insane that all 30 teams let Greg Smith go undrafted in 2011 (especially when you remember that 22/27 year old Tanguy/Targuy Ngombo went late in the second round). After seeing the games Greg Smith has been having the last few weeks, one might think a number of big man starved teams would like a 21 year old masher like Smith under contract for the league minimum over the next two seasons.
Tonight, Smith followed up a tremendous recent stretch with yet another dynamic performance, coming off the bench for 20 points and 6 rebounds (on 8-9 shooting). Smith showed off a diversified offensive arsenal as well, hitting a pair of hook shots, a couple of jumpers and an acrobatic tip-in.
Going into the season, who would've thought that the young and inexperienced duo of Asik and Smith would become one of the Rockets biggest strengths?
2) Hitting the Boards
On a night where the Rockets looked outmatched talent-wise at times, they needed to hustle as a squad in order to close that gap. With a tremendous team effort on the boards, they managed to level the playing field quite a bit.
Patterson continues to struggle to grab rebounds, but with Parsons, Smith, and Asik grabbing 25 rebounds between the three of them, the Rockets were able to control the paint against an experienced Celtics squad. As Smith continues to earn more and more minutes, let's see if that success continues.
3) Chandler Parsons
Chandler Parsons played yet another exceptional game, putting up a 15/9/8 line, showing off his versatile skillset. Not only did he score 15 points on just 7 shots, he held Paul Pierce to just a 5-18 shooting night.
As the team moves forward, they have to plan on having Chandler Parsons entrenched at the 3. He's an unbelievable weapon with his triple-double skills, and, like Smith, it's unbelievable that he was so overlooked on draft night.
1) All of the Second Quarter
After building an eight point lead at the end of the first quarter, the second quarter was, in a word, awful. The Rockets played hot potato as they turned the ball over seven times.
Add in the fact that the transition defense suffered (case in point), and an 8 point lead collapsed and became a seven point deficit midway through the period.
Stretches where shots aren't falling are bound to happen with a young team like the Rockets, but the complete lack of ball movement for nearly 12 minutes is unacceptable. As the Rockets began moving the ball from side to side in the third, the offense came to them. Let's hope they see the film and get the offense going again.
2) Marcus Morris
After a tremendous start to the season, hopes were high that Marcus Morris would be able to assert himself as the alpha dog on the bench and buoy a young unit. Lately, Morris has looked much more Marcus Morris-ly, and Toney Douglas has been forced to lead the way (I say that with a straight face).
Tonight, his offense looked bogged down once again, with his shots seeming to come only in isolation situations instead of in the flow of the offense as it had at the beginning of the season.
3) Jason Terry
Seriously, if there's a way to keep Jason Terry from ever returning to the Toyota Center, the Rockets should start exploring it. Maybe they can play the games at Lamar High School whenever Terry's team comes to town, or hold a special game in the Rio Grande Valley.
As he has a tendency to do in Houston, Terry hurt the Rockets from deep, hitting on 4-8 three pointers on his way to 12 points. In comparison to his vintage performances, this was mild, but watching him drill jumpers from behind the arc yet again was still painful. At the very least, the Rockets can take solace in the fact that Terry won't travel to the Toyota Center again this year, of course barring a trade.
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