New acquisition Joe Johnson made his debut as a Rocket posting a pithy 9 points in 31 minutes (it was five points until Johnson made four free throws on intentional fouls in the game’s closing minute). The seven time All-Star spent the overwhelming majority of his time standing in the corner as a spot up shooter.
The game didn’t send a signal for how Johnson fits in Houston. It’s likely head coach Mike D’Antoni will involve him in the action after an All-Star break to plan and practice. In this one he was entirely stationary.
Rotations are the biggest qualm raised by Johnson’s presence. Again, we learned little this evening. The Rockets were without Trevor Ariza and Eric Gordon. The presence of those players will impact when Joe Johnson and Gerald Green play going forward.
Johnson finished the game on the court, but Green has been such a good instant contributor I would assume the two will be in competition for minutes. If that’s the case then Green did himself no favors in this game. He tallied 2 points in 22 minutes.
Ultimately, if you didn’t watch this game, keep it that way. The Rockets played down to their opponent in a sloppy and lazy affair treated more like a task on a to do list then an NBA contest.
They led by 17 in the third quarter, yet found themselves defending a 5 point lead with 22 seconds left.
One night after shooting nearly 50% from three against Minnesota, Houston went a paltry 14-49 from deep or 28.6% percent. The game’s narrative could be encapsulated by this... it surprised me when I saw they shot 28.6% from deep, I thought it was worse.
James Harden methodically collected 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 points. It didn’t even look like he was trying.
The Beard’s passing was sublime in the first half. It compensated for his scoreless stat line which lasted until midway through the second quarter. It looked like the Rockets could win this game on his passing alone. It’s insane how routine these stat lines are becoming.
Chris Paul saved Houston’s bacon in the second quarter. A lazy Rockets start produced only 20 first quarter points. Paul responded by scoring 15 points in the first 6 minutes of the second quarter. His spurt gave the Rockets a lead they would not surrender.
Clint Capela continues to give me nightmares about his upcoming contract. He went for 13 points, 11 rebounds, and was a +14 on the evening. Capela was a consistent contributor through disappointing stretches.
Also, Chris Paul did this. He got fouled, but what a freaking move...
Koufos with a whiff-os. Great move by Chris Paul to draw contact. pic.twitter.com/sPCTCN2bUF— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) February 15, 2018
Houston is now 28-1 when James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela play.