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Third-quarter collapse dooms Rockets vs Lakers 124-115

Rockets drop 4 of last 5.

Los Angeles Lakers v Houston Rockets
Caruso will fall, or comb, over soon.
Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Blame me. The Rockets are doing poorly when I recap their games. I take full responsibility. If it takes me not writing recaps for the Rockets to win, I’ll do that.

Or blame the Lakers being good. Blame James Harden being off and the Rockets having yet another disaster quarter where they’re unable to hit much of anything, from deep. When these cold spells strike, they don’t seem to have any plan to compensate for it.

Once again, don’t blame Russell Westbrook. Westbrook was 15-23 and with any luck, could have been about 18-23. He attempted no 3pt shots. He notched 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. He was called for 5 fouls, and committed perhaps 3. He was the best Rocket tonight. He’s now doing what most assumed would bring the Rockets success, yet the Rockets are in a dangerous slump instead.

James Harden’s slide continues. He scored 34pts yet most of that was off free throws. He shot 18, and probably could have shot more, aggravating as that might be to some. But he went 8-20 overall and 2-9 from three. Possibly he’s hurt or sick and playing anyhow. We have about half a season of Harden being explosive and unstoppable. When his performance seems identically worse against a range of teams, a clear conclusion seems to be that something’s wrong with him.

Honestly, this is the same stuff as the past few games. House still looks broken. Gordon is slow-looking, and his shot comes and goes. Rockets whose job it is to shoot, either miss, or pass out of, open shots.

Capela is the only big who gets playing time, aside from a forgettable run of ten minutes for Tyson Chandler. Hartenstein has been vanished after playing very well when given a bit of runway. Nothing about Tyson Chandler’s minutes indicates he’s anything more than a stopgap. Hartenstein seems to be a player than could make a difference, especially versus a big team like the Lakers.

The Lakers are a very good team, but the Rockets outplayed them in the first half, and had a lead at halftime. Then came the third quarter, the Lakers played good defense, and the Rockets bricked everything. The game was lost in the third.

That said, the Rockets seem to be a team that lacks ideas on offense, and necessary size, and in the case of Harden and Westbrook at times, effort, on defense. The Rockets are getting killed on pass-offs from opponent drives, or second chance points.

Clint Capela has to leave his man to help on the driving player, again and again. If the shot’s a miss, there’s no one to get the board much of the time. If it’s a pass, the defense is stretched out of position and can’t cover it. It wouldn’t be difficult to cut and paste a similar passage from any of the recent losses to similar effect.

Also, at times, the Rockets looked like a team that’s given up. Maybe on their coach, maybe each other, maybe their approach. When bad things happen, they tend to spiral out of control. The team tonight couldn’t have made the comeback on the Clippers from earlier this season.

That’s a losing steak, what such streaks are made of, but it seems the Rockets lack answers, and lack options. They can’t seem to get stops. There’s no one besides Harden and Westbrook that can create a shot. Gordon has shown that ability in the past, but isn’t showing it now. The team doesn’t seem to be able to manufacture any easy shots going to the basket, or much of anywhere else.

Right now the Rockets are broken, and a fix isn’t in sight.



This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Don’t ask.
    (96 votes)
  • 12%
    Giddy with despair.
    (49 votes)
  • 27%
    Worried, but not frantic.
    (106 votes)
  • 34%
    The Rockets will trade for Luka, score 145 a game, and all will be well.
    (130 votes)
381 votes total Vote Now