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Rockets overcome Lakers, Narrative, win 121-111

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SuperSmall Wins. Again.

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers
Welcome back, Robert!
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

There’s so much to say about this game that it is difficult settle on a single theme! So I won’t. Fortunately something exists to help with scattershot thoughts. That’s right, the return of Bullet Points: The Lazy Man’s Friend (tm)

  • First, there was The Trade That Proved The Rockets Are Crazy.

The Rockets traded away their quite good young center, Clint Capela, for Yet Another Shooting Wing, Robert Covington. If you’d asked The NBA Media & Twitterati Select last week who the most impactful player likely to be traded to a playoff team was, the consensus would surely have been that it was Covington. RoCo is an excellent defender(!), good 3pt shooter, and is playing on a team friendly deal. Then Covington got some Rockets on him, and that ardor...waned.

Looking at the Rockets plan, however, some concluded he was a perfect addition; if the Rockets indeed had the courage of their SmallBall convictions.

  • The Crazy Small Rockets theme firmly established, the stage was set for a showdown with the West-leading LA Lakers.

With Capela gone, and Covington in his place, more or less, the Storyline proclaimed that the Rockets, starting no one above 6’5”, were going to be crushed by the exceptionally tall Lakers. The Lakers two main players, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis are indeed bizarrely tall, and also, worryingly skilled. The Lakers are an excellent team, and there are even more tall Lakers around beyond those two. Javale McGee, and Dwight Howard, for example.

TNT’s Chris Webber more or less insisted the Lakers were dominating, and would continue to dominate the Rockets because of this height disparity. He rattled on in this vein for an entire half of commentary, oblivious to the tie score at intermission.

It seemed Webber had prepared approximately 80 “Rockets are going to be crushed by SHEER TALLNESS ALONE for Daring to Affront The Gods Of Height” talking points and he was determined to get them all in. No matter what happened in the game. The irony is, Webber would have been almost perfect at “center”, playing the sort of basketball the Rockets are playing now.

I’ve brought “Pretend Chris Webber” in for a Q&A, to help explain these Rockets to him. While I call him “Pretend Chris Webber”, you might also know him as “Straw Man”.

  • PCW: So, wait, Rockets, are you just going to swarm on defense, have nearly every player shoot a bunch of threes and drive the lane, kick out to shooters? No center? No one over 6’6”? That’s it? That’s your plan?

Yep. That’s it. That’s the plan.

  • PCW: That’s crazy! It’ll never work.

Even so.

  • PCW: Wait, is it... working?

It appears to be working. The Rockets outscored the Lakers in every quarter, save the first, which was lost by one. The Lakers scored only 18pts in the 4th quarter. At halftime, The Narrative shifted from The Foolishness of The Rockets Absurd Plan, to The Unsustainability of Said Absurd Plan. In this game at least, however, it seemed that it was the Lakers who could not sustain their effort against the smaller Rockets. Los Angeles looked tired in the 4th quarter, and their previously hot 3pt shooting collapsed.

Amusingly enough, it was not The Dominance of Height, that kept LA close earlier on, but in fact, good 3pt shooting by the damnable Danny Green, and Captain Combover, the Aggie Legend.

  • PCW: Still, the Rockets are SuperSmall(tm), they’re going to get crushed on the boards.

It certainly seems possible, even likely. So it proved. Rebounds favored Los Angeles, and their Mighty Tall Guys, of course they did. The Rockets suffered a humiliating 38-37 spanking on the glass tonight.

  • PCW: Yeah, but, it’s one game!

It’s now five. All wins. Included is a win over Utah, without either James Harden or Russell Westbrook. They did lose to Portland, and a scorching hot (like several made near halfcourt 3pt shot hot) Damien Lillard. But then again, they started Capela in that game, too.

  • PCW: They’ll wear out. It’s Unsustainable.

They might. We’ll see. The Rockets are now plausibly 10 or 11 players deep, however. Even tonight, though, in a hotly contested game, Rockets player minutes were reasonable.

Personally, I think this is a natural way to play basketball, and one that emphasizes the extreme skills of the Rockets roster. The Rockets are built to play this way, and they’ve doubled down on it.

  • PCW: But! I hate it! It’s not what I grew up with!

Tough.

Nearly the whole league plays like the Rockets now, and so they were leaders no longer. With so many offenses almost a clone of theirs, they were no longer forcing the NBA to adapt to them. Not anymore.

The Rockets are the Rockets again.

I thank Pretend Chris Webber for his cooperation.

PS - Robert Covington might be a badass.

PPS - Great way to snap my Recap Loss Streak.

Poll

Is Small...Super?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    It is tonight.
    (182 votes)
  • 30%
    It was and ever shall be.
    (146 votes)
  • 5%
    Nope. Five flukes and counting...
    (28 votes)
  • 26%
    Luka is undecided. Check back in ten games.
    (130 votes)
486 votes total Vote Now