The Houston Rockets entered tonight's game against the league leading Golden State Warriors down two starters and three bench players. Not just any starters, their starting bigs in Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones, key bench players in Isaiah Canaan and Kostas Papanikalaou, then finally Francisco Garcia.
Despite all this the Rockets actually spent a good portion of the second half in the lead or within a point or three.
That is until the final three and a half minutes when the Warriors got into the paint, scoring at will, showing absolutely how much the Rockets missed Howard in the middle. With Howard anchoring the defense the likes of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson would have had second thoughts about coming into the lane for all those layups and floaters. Would that have been the difference in the game?
Mostly likely not.
The Rockets ended up getting very three happy when the Warriors pushed the lead up to seven. That is if they even got a shot up, if they weren't shooting a three, they were just losing the ball.
James Harden was fantastic again tonight, while playing through back spasms. He led all scorers with 34 points, he also had eight rebounds, four assists and four steals (now 8th in the league). Trevor Ariza and Donatas Motiejunas both had 18 points, while Patrick Beverly was the only other Rocket in double-figures with 12 points.
The depleted bench shot a combined 2-13 (15.3 percent) from the field, 0-7 from three (Jason Terry was 0-5) for a total of five points. Big Papa was almost averaging three times that amount off the bench this month by himself. When you are missing five NBA players though, you are going to see that type of non-production. Look at the Oklahoma City Thunder to start the year, Sebastian Telfair who is now jobless was getting 40 minutes a night.
Do not discount the experience some of these younger guys are getting now though. It's going to pay off in spades later in the season for the Rockets.
Defensively the Rockets were tough (again for only 44.5 minutes). They forced the Warriors into 15 turnovers, while committing 15 of their own. They also made shooting three pointers hell for both Thompson and Curry until the fourth quarter.
There were a lot of positives to take away from this game. Like Dorsey making an actual basketball move, making a basket and then making his free throw! He entered the game shooting 21% from the line!
|Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors|
|Dec 10, 2014||1ST||2ND||3RD||4TH||SCORE|
|Golden State (19-2)||23||23||27||32||105|
|Golden State Warriors|
The five guys who missed tonight's game are also expected to miss Thursday night's game against the Sacramento Kings. The game is at 9:30 CDT and on TNT. Hopefully Reggie Miller is not calling this one.
Outside of being thin due to injuries, what was your biggest take away as to why the Rockets lost tonight? What is your biggest positive?
Sound off in the comments.