The Rockets started out of the gates strong tonight, pushing out 37 in the opening quarter. With Harden out, the offense has been forced to spread out and more people will be required to get involved. Tonight, plenty of people were shooting the ball, especially in the first quarter. However, that narrative would not last.
In the middle two quarters, the Rockets were outscored by the Pistons 57-40, and a six point lead turned into an 11-point deficit. Detroit shot 50.7 percent from the field throughout the game and most of the charge was led by Harris, but he had a supporting cast as well.
Dwight Buycks made four threes off the bench and Reggie Bullock shot 3-4 from beyond himself. Eric Moreland got his first career start tonight and had an impressive night in 36 minutes of action, holding his own against Clint Capela. Former Rocket Ish Smith also put together a solid 17-point performance.
If you look at the Pistons on paper, the team looks like they belong in the G-League, because that’s where many of them came from. However, judging by tonight’s game, the guys have developed and are solid NBA players. It’s safe to say the Rockets had an off night, and that’s in large part because their 32 PPG scorer James Harden did not play, but the Pistons feel the pain of the Rockets. Tonight, they played without starting point guard Reggie Jackson and starting center Andre Drummond.
Simply put, the Pistons’ supporting cast outplayed the Rockets’ supporting cast and the Rockets did not shoot the ball well enough to contend tonight. Also, the most glaring statistic was the fact that the Rockets only shot 11 free throws. The team made ten of them, but Houston’s offense is dependent on getting fouls and sinking their shots at the line. The team could not do that today. The Pistons made 20 of their 27 shots, and that was where the game was won and lost.
The team is still learning how to play without Harden, and it will take a while to get the feel of it, but there was no true leader in the scoring department tonight. Six guys scored between 13 and 16 points. Chris Paul had a double-double with 16 and 13 and was the maestro on offense that he was born to be, but there was not enough offense and drawing fouls and shots falling.
Hopefully the Rockets can learn from their mistakes tonight and apply it Monday evening against the Bulls. Tipoff is at 7 PM CT.