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Game Recap: Rockets start slow again, fall in Detroit

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Despite Dwight Howard playing his first back-to-back of the season, the Rockets fell too far behind in the first half and dropped another game to an Eastern Conference foe.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets came out sluggish and sloppy to start yet another game, falling behind by as many as 28 points before a second half rally fell short, as they lost to the Pistons 116-105 in Detroit.

Houston jumped out to a 15-12 lead, but from there, despite getting two quick fouls on Pistons center Andre Drummond in the quarter, the Rockets' lack of ball movement was once again a prevalent theme, as the team went completely cold.

The Pistons finished the first period on a 17-6 run to jump out to a 29-21 lead that they would never relinquish, while the Rockets shot just 39 percent in the first quarter and turned the ball over 6 times.

The second quarter was more of the same, with many of the nagging, season-long issues rearing their ugly head: mental errors, slow defensive rotations, lack of effort and communication, and terrible shooting.

After getting just 3 assists in the first period, the Rockets didn't get another until 3 minutes left in the half, illustrating the total lack of cohesion on the offensive end. They finished the half with just those 4 assists to go along with 10 turnovers, and the Pistons took a 62-41 lead into the locker room, which was actually an improvement from the deficit earlier in the quarter.

The Houston defense was just as poor as the offense, as they made the league's worst shooting team look like they were masquerading as Golden State. Detroit shot 54.7 percent in the first half to go along with 45.5 percent from downtown.

The Rockets did come out with more spark in the third quarter, as coach J.B. Bickerstaff tried every conceivable on-court combination in an effort to find anything that worked, even going small at one point with rookie Montrezl Harrell at center surrounded by Ty Lawson, Marcus Thornton, Corey Brewer and James Harden.

Bickerstaff's musical chairs lineup paid off, as both Lawson and Thornton got hot from deep in the third, which opened up thunderous dunks for Dwight Howard, Clint Capela and Harrell off alley-oops and the high pick and roll.

The Rockets finished the third frame on a 12-3 run, which extended to a 19-3 run into the start of the fourth. Lawson's third triple of the game got the Rockets to within 4 points at 84-80, but Houston would get no closer.

The team had no answer for Detroit point guard Reggie Jackson, who took over down the stretch, and the Pistons pulled back away for the win.

Jackson finished with 31 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists on 11-18 shooting, including 3-4 from downtown, and absolutely abused Patrick Beverley in the fourth quarter.

Andre Drummond also ran wild despite matching up most of the game with Howard, who was playing his first back-to-back of the season and put in 31 minutes. Drummond finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks and thoroughly outplayed both Howard and Capela all night.

Harden finished with 29 points for the Rockets, but he shot just 6-15, while Marcus Thornton dropped 18, including 4 triples, as the duo carried the Rockets in the fourth quarter, but ultimately to no avail.

The Rockets also got 11 points from Lawson (who was also 3-3 from deep) and 11 from Capela, but as has been the story all year, they just couldn't seem to put it all together. Patch one leak and another quickly appears.

The Rockets fall to 7-11, blowing a chance at a 3-game win streak, and now head back to Houston once again licking their wounds and looking for answers.

Their next game is Wednesday night against New Orleans.

The Good: Ty Lawson discovering his shot, Marcus Thornton is back shooting hot.

The Bad: Patrick Beverley getting torched by Reggie Jackson, Dwight Howard getting bullied by Andre Drummond

The Ugly: Trevor Ariza and Terrence Jones were total non-factors, combining for 5 points on 2-14 shooting.