The Rockets avenged an embarrassing Christmas Day NBA feature game loss to the Golden State Warriors 135-105 tonight. True, it wasn’t a marquee Christmas matchup, but it was on the TNT calendar. Tonight was also the first night of action back from the NBA All Star break, so it wasn’t nothing from an national TV standpoint. Were the Rockets aware of that Christmas Day loss going into this game? In a word, yes. James Harden called it out as “embarrassing” in his post-game interview.
The rout was on from about four minutes into this one, as the Rockets offense simply carved Golden State’s largely G-League roster apart. The main question was whether or not the Rockets would lose interest in the game, and opponent, as they have so many times in the past and let them back into the game. Despite a decided lack of fire and urgency in the Rockets after the first quarter, they nonetheless won every quarter, except the final one. The fourth, to be fair, was entirely garbage time. As was the third quarter, and the second.
No doubt Golden State will get a fantastic pick in the upcoming draft as a result of their best player leaving, and others being hurt, and the devil. For now, however, it’s fun to watch the crowd at Light Years Arena clutch at straws in a beatdown and boo and challenge, (hat tip to you, Steve Kerr) obvious fouls on James Harden. (Nobody would even question jumping into a player on a two point shot as a foul, but somehow it’s ok on a three?)
A couple of Warriors notes.
Draymond Green is overweight and out of shape in what is clearly a lost season for Golden State. Three minutes of continuous basketball at the Rockets new pace saw him standing around with his hands on his hips like an older dad playing the college kids in a YMCA game. You hate to see it.
Andrew Wiggins might make Garbage Time All NBA. You hate to see it.
Anyway, the Warriors aren’t very interesting, so let’s talk Rockets.
The wily Jeff Green set his trap early in his predicted (by NVP) Rockets stint with an excellent performance. Will the Rockets be the team to get the best out of him? Could he be relied upon to help? Let’s, ah, wait and see.
Demarre Carroll is clearly out of place and will never help out. Never mind that he literally has spent less than four hours on the Rockets. Snap judgments are the best judgments, of course, but urge a “wait and see” attitude as well.
Bruno Caboclo is genuinely athletic, tall, and has very long arms. He looks like he could hit a three point shot, too, especially with Rockets starters around him on the court giving him lots of time to set up. Let’s hope he gets a chance to prove himself. Opening night jitters aside, there’s a lot to like.
Robert Covington might actually be the sort of player advanced stats suggest he is. If a team consistently does much better with a player in a lineup it would tend to suggest that player is good at basketball. 20pts in 27 minutes on 5-10 3pt shooting, as well as good defense, 4 blocks, 1 foul, is encouraging, even against a team that is floundering.
Oh, and Russell Westbrook got ejected because he committed two more “technical fouls” and Warrior randos can soccer flop with the best of them. The pretend head injury is truly worthy of the Champions League.
With the buyout signings the Rockets now can send waves of not-so-tall-for-NBA-guys at opponents. Consider:
This is a simply staggering amount of decent to very good shooting, and switchable defense. Some wondered where the energy to maintain PocketRockets or SuperSmall might come from? This is now a roster 13 deep with players that can do what Mike D’Antoni wants.
Add Tristan Thompson on a buyout, somehow? The Rockets would be deeply scary.
They might be anyway.
How are you feeling about the roster depth?
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Need a real big.
That’s a...lot... of wingy, guardy, switchy, shooty types. A lot.
Luka would look good in Rocket Red.