It barely happened at all this season, and now it’s happened twice in the span of a week: the Rockets put up a listless performance against a vastly inferior team. Six days after dropping an ugly one in Minnesota to the Timberwolves, the Rockets had another stinker in Miami, losing to the Heat 109-103 for their third loss in the last four games.
James Harden finished with a triple double, putting up 40 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists, but he was the only Rocket to show up tonight. Houston really missed Ryan Anderson, as the offensive spacing suffered and the team went ice cold from downtown.
The Rockets shot just 9-39 from beyond the arc, 40 percent overall from the field, turned the ball over 17 times and just generally looked out of sync for the majority of the contest.
Eric Gordon scored just 7 points on 3-17 shooting, including 1-10 from three and didn’t look totally right physically. He apparently reaggravated the big toe injury tonight and spent some time in the locker room before returning to the court.
The Beard received little help elsewhere, as Trevor Ariza went 1-5 from three and finished with 11 points, while Patrick Beverley’s 12 and Montrezl Harrell’s 13 was the only double-figure scoring for the Rockets.
Despite Harrell’s good night scoring, he finished with just one rebound in 16 minutes of play, and as Clint Capela, who only played 9 minutes tonight, continues to get back into mid-season shape, Mike D’Antoni is going to need to settle on two primary centers going forward.
Neither Harrell, Capela or Nene looked completely comfortable in their new roles despite Capela’s limited minutes, and as much as they’ve both earned playing time over the last four weeks, either Nene or Harrell is going to have to take a primary back seat to the other and Capela as the Swiss Roll’s minutes increase.
The Rockets have obviously hit a mid-season lull — they gave up 64 points in the paint to an Eastern Conference bottom feeder — but such is the highs and lows of an arduous 82-game season. An ugly loss? Sure. But hardly time to panic in a Western Conference playoff race that still has the Rockets closer to the second-place Spurs than to the fourth-place Clippers.
The Heat were led tonight by 21 points and 8 assists from former Rocket Goran Dragic, while they also got 18 from Wayne Ellington, 17 from Dion Waiters, who naturally re-found his mojo just in time for the Rockets, 16 from Tyler Johnson, 15 from James Johnson and 14 points and 15 rebounds from Hassan Whiteside to head up 6 Heat players in double figures.
Miami moves to 12-30 after what amounts to their biggest win of the season thus far, while our boys in red fall to 32-12. The Rockets will look to rebound tomorrow night, as they head back to the Toyota Center to take on the Milwaukee Bucks.