Please pardon the late recap, entirely my fault, but sometimes life gets in the way of basketball. Not in a bad way, but it does happen. Especially for games that start in the middle of the afternoon local time.
In any case, the Rockets Road Trip From (or To) Hell continued in Denver.
One thing we can say for these Rockets, they don’t give up. They play hard, and try to win.
Another thing we can say, they haven’t learned to hold a lead yet. Partly that’s on the players, some of it is on coach Stephen Silas, and a lot of it has to do with playing the team with the 20-21 NBA MVP.
Sometimes you can see it. Sometimes you can see a glimpse of the team the Rockets could be, and hopefully, will be.
Sometimes you see a team that simply doesn’t know how to win NBA games.
Sometimes you scream - “WHY CAN’T YOU MAKE MORE FREE THROWS?”
Tonight the Rockets, despite giving up another second half lead, despite a controversial last second block by Nikola Jokic, could have won, if Jalen Green, and Eric Gordon could have shot their free throws like a guard, instead of a 1990s center. Gordon went 1-4 at the line. Green, 3-5. NBA guards, taken together, shoot free throws at an 80% rate on average. Shooting free throws at an average rate gets the Rockets the 2pts they’d need to win this one.
On the positive side, Daniel Theis returned from injury and looked great. Theis contributed 18pts on 8-12 shooting, and On the negative side, Daniel Theis returned from injury and short-circuited a lineup that should get more minutes together. The offense, despite a nice game from Theis, really seems to bog down overall, when he’s in the game.
Everyone’s favorite Rocket, Alperen Sengun continues to impress, with better shooting, some rebounding, and passing. He also continues to accumulate fouls at a tragic rate, which is partly due to inexperience, and partly due to contending with the likes of Anthony Davis, Deandre Ayton and Nikola Jokic in successive games.
Christian Wood continues to have quite a good season, that no one outside of Rockets fans would notice. Today he notched only 12 points, but he did grab 17 rebounds in what was a bad matchup for him. Wood is now averaging roughly 20pts and 12rbs per game, which is nice production from the center position offensively.
In the end, it is hard, however, to overcome a 5-23 combined shooting effort from Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.
The season is learning experience for the Rockets, and it’s clear lessons are being learned. One of the lessons, however, should be “how to win a close game”. That’s one the baby Rockets have definitely not yet learned. You could also see the team struggling with the altitude as their brutal road trip grinds on.
At times watching this team it’s possible to wish for the trades we think are coming - Eric Gordon, Danuel House, maybe Daniel Theis and DJ Augustin to happen immediately. I’d honestly prefer to see Josh Christopher and Usman Garuba taking DJ Augustin’s and Daniel Theis’ minutes respectively.
Sometimes learning is painful, and there’s more pain on hand tomorrow in San Francisco, as the Rockets travel to meet their inverse, the 7-1 Golden State Warriors.
Updated Rockets Sentiment-O-Meter
This poll is closed
At least it’s not the Robert Saver/Neil Olshey Sentiment-O-Meter.
PS - I don’t want to see JaeSean Tate traded, and he’s currently my second favorite Rocket (behind Alpie), but if your team had a notion of contending, wouldn’t you want Tate? What do you suppose he’s worth? With his low salary, defense, and general usefulness, what you demand for him in a trade?