The Houston Rockets lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers by a score of 91-77 on Friday night, turning in what might have been their worst offensive performance of the season. The Cavs were on the back half of a back-to-back at the end of a long road trip, but it was Houston that looked like they moved in molasses.
The problems started, as always, with James Harden. He shot a putrid 2-10 from the field for a paltry 11 points, turned the ball over 8 times and was once again checked out on defense. But the entire team was ludicrously turnover-prone, as it didn't even seem like the Cavs stole the ball that much. There were more than a handful of passes thrown into the stands.
We were feeling something like cautious optimism with the Rockets coming off a five-game win streak, but that's all out the window now. A team that turns in disgraceful nights like this does not deserve to be taken seriously. The Rockets are still in good position for a playoff spot, but there's a sickness to this team. Sometimes the negative energy just builds to critical levels.
Dwight Howard was probably the best Rocket on the floor tonight, but even he had a couple breakdowns of effort defensively (though you could argue that he got hung out to dry on help rotations more often). He finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Pretty much everyone else had a down night.
Terrence Jones started off the evening quite well (as did the whole Rockets squad in the first eight minutes of the first quarter), but he did his classic vanishing act that we had hoped his recent run of good form had buried. Instead, like the rest of the Rockets, he remains wildly inconsistent.
The most upsetting part of the whole game, to me at least, was Ty Lawson's involvement. After he came into the game for Patrick Beverley late in the first quarter, what had been a spirited defensive effort completely vanished. He was once again a complete zero on offense, and worse than that on defense. It's not fair to pin the whole loss on him (and we're not doing that), but Lawson is completely unplayable at this point.
Patrick Beverley was probably the second brightest spot on the Rockets tonight, as he actually shot 3-4 from three-point range. So, of course, he was injured when the Rockets were down nearly 20 with under 4 minutes left in the game. The only point guard who can defend worth a damn and he was still on the floor when K.J. McDaniels (AKA the Human White Flag, even though we love him and want to see him out there more) was there. Hopefully he'll be okay.
Luckily, the Rockets' next game is against a much easier opponent in the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. They've now played exactly 50 percent of this season's games, and sit at 21-20.