The Rockets lost a heartbreaker to the Jazz last night, 117-114 in overtime. The Rockets were shell-shocked out of the gate allowing the Jazz to put up 34 first quarter points. The defense did get ramped up over the rest of the game, but the Jazz executed down the stretch better.
In overtime the Jazz just made one more play than the Rockets. They had a chance with a Jason Terry three-ball hitting both sides of the rim before bouncing out. Below are three takeaways from the Rockets road loss to the Jazz
Can't score without Harden
James Harden played nearly 44 minutes while scoring 42 points, and it still wasn't enough. The Rockets played Harden so much because frankly, they had to, there were no other options.
One of the few breathers Harden did have came when the Rockets finally retook the lead. Up 83-79 at the end of the third quarter, Harden went to the bench to rest like he normally does. He usually checks in at around seven to eight minutes left in the game.
With Harden sitting, the Rockets went ice cold and lost the momentum that he had built before going to the bench. The Jazz went on a 10-3 run to pull back ahead.
J.B. Bickerstaff called a timeout and put Harden back into the game and they fought hard down the stretch before ultimately falling.
The point was: no one could score while the Beard was on the bench. Ty Lawson was not aggressive and turned the ball over. With Lawson running the show< the Rockets got nothing going.
On nights when Dwight Howard is active, when Harden is on the bench, every possession should run through the big man. Howard knows this, fans know this, the opposing team knows this but apparently no one else does.
No power forward, no win
From about the five-minute mark in the fourth quarter and in overtime the Rockets went small. They had Patrick Beverley, James Harden, Jason Terry, Dwight Howard and Trevor Ariza play just about every second down the stretch.
What is missing from that lineup is a power forward, someone that will help lock down the paint and rebound the ball. The Rockets played some solid defense closing out the game but in key moments, they would allow an offensive board and on the other end, they were easily out-rebounded just due to size.
Bickerstaff following the game was at a loss on the rebounding with the smaller group.
"With that small lineup that we had, I don't know how much there is we could do," Bickerstaff said.
He is right, it's hard to expect a Beverley, Harden, Terry, and Ariza to go out there and get an extra possession or keep the other team off the glass. Having a power forward won't fix everything, but it increases the odds that they will get a crucial rebound.
Josh Smith played zero minutes in the fourth quarter, Terrence Jones only played three minutes.
Beginning of the end?
The season did not end on Tuesday night with a loss to the Jazz, but the road to the fifth seed let alone just making the playoffs has now gotten so much tougher.
The Rockets played a really gritty game. Harden, Howard and Ariza gave their all and it still wasn't enough. Thursday they will head to Portland to take on the red-hot Trailblazers and then come home Saturday to face the Spurs.
It is very likely the Rockets could be facing a three-game losing streak right in the face. If the Jazz was not a must win, the Trailblazers game just might be the biggest remaining game of the season.