What the Rockets season has lacked is... well, like so many things. Made shots. Defense. Wins. But, what I would argue is that more than anything else, this Rockets season has lacked effort. I can't really decide if the Rockets shook that off, or if they just beat a bad team, but either way, Houston earned their 7th win of the season against the New York Knicks, 116-111.
You can't coach effort. Or, at least Kevin McHale and JB Bickerstaff haven't been able to. It's in the heart. It's what Skip Bayless would call "one of the intangibles." For about 40 minutes tonight, the Rockets continued to give that 0% effort, and it manifested itself in what has honestly been the worst basketball of the year. James Harden spent 48 consecutive seconds with the ball and ended each possession with terrible, and, more importantly, covered shots. Corey Brewer had two straight plays in which he just fell over. The Rockets let a tip dunk happen off an uncovered, missed three. It was appalling.
Rockets couldn't buy a basket in the first half, scoring only 41 points at the break. Meanwhile, the Knicks took advantage of the Rockets weak defense, and shot the lights out in the first half, shooting 57% in the game. Also of note, neither Corey Brewer, nor Ty Lawson played in the first half. Ty Lawson finished with a DNP Coach's Decision, which I'm sure we'll all talk about too much tomorrow.
The game remained close because none other than the New York Knickerbockers turned the ball over 23 ntimes. That, and every time Patrick Beverley was in the game in the second half, the Rockets made a run. This is not because Bev scored a bunch of points, or even because he had 5 steals. It happened because of Beverley's effort. All of these runs, until the fourth quarter, were eventually thwarted.
The Knicks led by 13 at one point in the fourth and 8 with just 7 minutes to go. Then (surprise) Beverley entered the game, and started attacking the basket, and plays ended with points instead of turnovers or long rebounds that would turn into fast breaks. In the last minute, Marcus Thornton tied the game with a three off a tip from Dwight Howard, who didn't seem to mean to tip the ball to Marcus in the first place.
Say what you will about the Houston Rockets, they are a good overtime team. They have won their last 10 games that ended in OT, and it happens because they consistently jump out to a lead at the beginning. Tonight was no different, as it started with this:
in the aaaaarms of the aaangels... fly awaaaaay from heeeeere... https://t.co/N2MmmtLfNH
— The Dream Shake (@DreamShakeSBN) November 30, 2015
After some clutch shots by Marcus Thornton and some free throws, the Rockets sealed the win.
Harden ended with 26 points on 28 shots, saluting to Kobe on the day he announced his retirement (sorry Kobe please don't come find me Kobe). Thornton had 18 off the bench, along with Howard, Capela, and Ariza, who also ended the game in double figures.
They still can't seem to put together two solid quarters, but they managed to string 12 straight minutes of effort when they needed it. It doesn't say "Ugly" next to the W in the column. Though it does still say 10 Ls.
The Rockets take on the Detroit Pistons on a back to back Monday in Detroit at 6:30 Central Standard time.