As Max pointed out yesterday, the Rockets are winless when they make fewer than 10 triples in a game.
With other teams, you might yell to heavens for the Rockets to stop shooting them, but that’s not how the Rockets work. In fact, when they pass up open threes it makes the offense even worse. Case-in-point: both Trevor Ariza and Sam Dekker have looked terrified when they catch the ball open for three lately. Both are still going to get a shot up every once in a while, but drives the basket with the ball isn’t really in the playbook for guys not named James Harden, Eric Gordon, or Lou Williams.
Maybe it’s a slump. But the Rockets suddenly look like the tired offense we saw from them in late January and early February. Even Harden hasn’t been great since the All-Star break (besides a few performances of brilliance), though he keeps scoring in bunches. But if Harden is scoring a ton of points and the rest of the Rockets aren’t giving him any help, the Rockets start to look a lot like the Oklahoma City Thunder. As in, they’re losing a bunch of games that they should be winning.
The Jazz have a rough slate ahead, but suddenly Houston’s grip on the 3 seed is tenuous. And with Utah holding the tiebreaker, Houston really just has a 2 game lead on those jerks.
The Chicago Bulls are an above-average Eastern Conference team, and those squads have been kryptonite to the Rockets this season.
Consider this: against the middle of the East (Hawks, Pacers, Pistons, Bulls, Heat, and Bucks), the Rockets are 3-7. One was a win where Houston pulled away late against Milwaukee. Another was a road win in Detroit where the Pistons blew multiple late chances to tie or take the lead. And the third was a crazy come-from-behind overtime win over the Bulls who were sans Jimmy Butler.
Basically, the Bulls will probably frustrate the Rockets and pull out a win, if history is any indication. Luckily, the game isn’t on TNT so the Rockets dodged the “guaranteed loss” bullet.
One random thing to add: the Rockets are hosting a viewing party at Pub Fiction in midtown for this game. Here’s an official link. There’s going to be Rockets trivia along with appearances by the Power Dancers and Clutch. I am planning on going, and was thinking this could be an impromptu TDS meetup. I think we know a few things about the Rockets and might do okay at trivia regarding our favorite team. There’s even a rumor that AK’s dad will be there.
To close this out, I found a video months ago before the season started that I thought was adorable. I can’t believe I forgot about it the first time these teams met. So, I give to you “Late Night Snack with Henry.”
I thought about doing a live-blog of the video, but I don’t want to take away from any of the cuteness. And if someone says “The kid has an earpiece so it’s staged,” I’m banning you. I love this video. I love that the Bulls were really cool with Henry. I don’t care that they’re hyper-aware that there are cameras. Most of these dudes seemed to legitimately enjoy doing this. Robin Lopez has always seemed like a big kid at heart, so his fun doesn’t surprise me. Ditto for Dwyane Wade. But Rajon Rondo was great too, and his reputation would have you believe he’s not allowed near children.
Prediction: Rockets lose by 15 and the panic button must be found.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT.