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Waves of errors cost Rockets against Clippers

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Rockets can’t push past a panoply of problems.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers
This seemed to happen a lot tonight.
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets faced off against one of several teams that seem composed in decent part of former Rockets. Would you be surprised to learn that one of them had a big night?

First Quarter

The Los Angeles Rock...uh, Clippers, yeah, Clippers, came out largely uninjured, which is a rare state for them. Danilo Gallinari was both available and engaged, with is exceedingly uncommon and possibly interesting.

The loss of Chris Paul was evident with a disjointed Rockets team often looking like clowns in search of their car. When the Rockets wander aimlessly, or take terrible shots, or Harden pounds the ball and shoots a contested 3 with 1 second left, Paul restores order.

Right now there is no lineup without Paul that particularly inspires confidence. James Ennis is trying to do too much, and is foul-prone. If he can’t log something approaching 30 minutes a night, he’s not part of the solution to the Ariza problem. His defense when he is playing, absent fouls, is generally good, however.

On the other hand, the combination of unfamiliarity with the position, and his natural defensive approach, makes Carmelo The Center a Real Adventure. Usually the adventure consists of watching the other team score right at the basket in various ways. It may get better, but it may be better to get an actual center into the game and let Melo play PF.

The Quarter Ends with the Clippers Leading 29-24.

Second Quarter

More of the same, but with more Michael Carter-Williams. Right now he appears to be a one-way player. Just like Ricky Rubio, he needs to shoot the wide open three rather than commit a terrible drive, if only to prevent the defense simply being ready to collapse on his inevitable drive. There’s something there with MCW, and maybe Mike D’Antoni can unlock the good player struggling to get out.

Right now the Rockets defense looks terrible. I’d hasten to add that right now defense in the whole NBA looks terrible. The rule changes, coupled with more shooting, combined with faster pace, and joined to a shortened preseason with little practice time, has produced an offensive explosion that currently surpasses the height of the NBA’s Cocaine Era. Its like being forced to drink eight milkshakes in a row. The first one was nice, the second was ok, the eighth is a serious threat to your well-being.

They say the devil grants your wishes, Adam Silver...

The quarter ends with the Clippers leading 54-53.

Third Quarter

The quarter begins with an alley oop to Clint Capela that he softly taps in. It appears the dyed patch in his hair has rendered him Full Euro once again. Last season that is a thundering dunk with Capela attempting to tear the rim down because it offends him.

The quarter started brightly but the Rockets continued to be their own worst enemy. Right now the team feels as though its playing in oatmeal.

Reffing continues to be dismal. Terrible, wrong-headed and wildly inconsistent, and the “Point of Emphasis” have, if nothing else, shown just what a difference reffing can make. Generally a team that gets all the way to the rim on numerous drives with good finishers:

A. Scores a lot.

B. Shoots a lot of FTs.

C. Both.

There’s one more possible answer:

D: Neither Scores Nor Shoots FTs.

“C” happened for the Clippers tonight. “D” for the Rockets.

If you were worried about how the Rockets would look on a back-to-back, you were right to be concerned. Also, did you know that over 690 people join Bumble, whatever that is, every day in Los Angeles?

The Rockets appear to be incapable of playing more than three possessions of good basketball consecutively. They turned a lead into a nine point deficit in a two minute stretch that saw a truly remarkable number of terrible boneheaded mistakes and a D’Antoni lip reading exercise you can see below.

The quarter ends with the Clippers ahead 93-84.

Fourth Quarter

The quarter began somewhat brightly, but the Rockets continued to do their best to defeat themselves, rather than force the opponent to do so. After the Rockets failing to secure rebounds the Clippers expanded their lead to 11 with 9:22 left, when Mike D’Antoni called a timeout hoping to regroup.

The Rockets played better after this, but facing good play from the Clippers, an inability to finish on drives, for whatever reason, and an inability to secure defensive rebounds, it didn’t quite happen.

A Harden-fueled furious comeback fell just short when Mike D’Antoni called (an awful) timeout with 2.9 seconds left. Instead of a fast break open 3pt shot to Carmelo Anthony, Harden’ contested last second 2pter (foot on the line) fell short.

But really any number of correctable problems could have changed the outcome.

I suggest the Rockets build and hold large leads. That formula lead to success last season and repeating it seems wise.

Concluding Thoughts

These Rockets are a work in progress. The new pieces don’t fit yet, and the lack of Chris Paul to impose order on chaos proved costly.

Right now nothing is working quite right on the Rockets. The rotations, the defense, the passing, the offensive organization, even the coaching, are all off kilter. I’ve often said the Rockets only need eight consecutive strong minutes to win most games. At this point in the season we’ve yet to see more than three. It was enough to beat The Fightin’ Lakers, but not quite enough on a B2B without CP3.

We head onward, but chin up, I believe that underneath all the problems is a team that will prove the doubters wrong. The Rockets’ problems are largely of their own making, and that’s a hopeful sign.

Poll

Which Clocket (Clipper Former Rocket) Do You Miss Most?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Luc Mbah a Moute
    (135 votes)
  • 45%
    Patrick Beverley
    (254 votes)
  • 10%
    Montrezl Harrell
    (58 votes)
  • 7%
    Lou Williams
    (42 votes)
  • 12%
    Mark Cuban Would Have Kept Them All And Added Chris Paul.
    (71 votes)
560 votes total Vote Now