Less than 17 hours after a thrilling but physically draining overtime win in Denver, the Rockets were forced to go up against the young New Orleans Pelicans. The results were predictably rough. The Rockets stayed in the game for the better part of three quarters, even taking the lead late in the third quarter, but as their legs grew heavier, they quickly fell out of the game and were defeated by the Pelicans' fourth quarter flurry.
The team shot 38% from the floor and 24% from beyond the three point arc, and were outgunned, outran, and dominated physically by a very strong Pelicans team that may be hitting their stride. With Jason Terry out with his wife and newborn child, the Rockets were short on the bench once again, and with a number of starters struggling, the Rockets ran out of steam late in the game.
Here are a few thoughts on the game, starting with a look at bench player Troy Daniels.
With the bench in shambles and coming off a disastrous game from Nick Johnson the game before, Kevin McHale didn't have many moves left to play in the second half tonight. Daniels came into the game and hit three three pointers in 16 minutes, giving the Rockets a much-needed spark in the second half. The Rockets were lagging, and Daniels came in and just started shooting, much like he did in the playoffs last year.
The timing of Daniels getting on the court is odd; however, as Nick Johnson seemed preferred to both Canaan and Daniels last night, even after a terrible first half. Johnson was brought into the game briefly in the fourth quarter and overtime, but got a DNP-CD tonight.
This is nothing more than uncorroborated speculation, but it could be the Rockets doing Daniels a favor by showcasing him before making another move. The team is rumored to be nearing a deal for Corey Brewer, and that deal reportedly has both Brewer and Ronny Turiaf coming back. If the Rockets don't send out two players, they will have to cut at least one player, and Daniels seems a likely target.
A few years ago, Jeff Adrien was set to get cut so the Rockets could sign Greg Smith out of the D-League, and the team gave Adrien minutes in a game where others were struggling, showcasing his rebounding skills to the rest of the league. Adrien gobbled up 9 rebounds in the contest, and was promptly cut the next day.
I don't know that Daniels will go the way of Adrien, but I had a case of deja vu watching him rain threes down in the second half.
Holy crap, Anthony Davis
Earlier this year, I was talking to an NBA front office employee, and he asked me who I would pick if I had to start a team. I told him the answer was Anthony Davis. With Davis' combination of athleticism, touch around the rim, and rebounding skills, there wasn't a big in the league who could touch him, and he was doing all of that last year as a 20 year old. In his third year, Davis has taken another step, and could be challenging James Harden for the MVP crown when all is said and done this season.
He had yet another stellar night tonight, scoring 30 points and grabbing 14 boards, and he also blocked five shots and intimidated another half dozen with his mere presence. Donatas Motiejunas was noticeably shaken by Davis' constant presence in the paint, and he made sure the Rockets could never get a rhythm going down low.
The more and more I watch of Davis, the more and more I'm convinced that he will be the best player of his generation. In a few years, I think Davis will be the top player in the league. The scary thing is I'm not so sure he isn't already.
Tweet of the night
Good work, Houston Rockets social media team.
Much like early last night, Rockets missing some gimmies at the rim. But, defense stopping everyone with multiple eyebrows. Rockets up 2.— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) December 19, 2014