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Hornets sting Rockets 123-99

A Revenge Game for Charlotte

Houston Rockets v Charlotte Hornets
It’s Trevelin Queen Time
Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Sometimes it is tough to know what to say in these recaps. Is it important to tell you the story of this game?

Alright. The Rockets hung around entertainingly in the first half, despite at one point playing a lineup comprised entirely of rookies, and Jalen Green wasn’t one of those rookies. Yes, they played Josh Christopher (who might have gotten hurt), Alperen Sengun (who fouled a lot), Usman Garuba (who looked kind of terrible), Trevelin Queen (who looked great in garbage time) and Daishen Nix (who looked like he was there).

Charlotte finally got some picks right. They got a good coach. They now have the core of a good team that scores so well they can’t be bothered to defend with their best effort. They didn’t need their best effort tonight, they only needed to go 18-41 from three (44%) and that could have been a lot better if Kelly Oubre didn’t shoot any 3pt shots. The Rockets looked wrong-footed by a seemingly endless parade of “drive and kick to the corner) where the Hornets had two guys on the move in and out of the corner waiting for the pass and shot.

Near the end of the first half, as the game was still in contention, the Rockets threw away the ball with two terrible turnovers in a row. On the second, Christian Wood hit a woman in the third row of the stands in the face with the pass.

That was when I concluded the Rockets were going to lose. When they couldn’t get out of their own way enough to tighten the game a little at the half, but literally threw the ball all over the arena instead.

Rockets fans are used to every regular season game mattering (for playoff standing). Rockets fans are used to living quarter by quarter, sometimes possession by possession. Rockets fans are used to the idea that somewhere in the toolbox of players is the right player, the right play, the right strategy to win the game. That with proper application of resources the Rockets should challenge for a title.

We’re used to the idea that the talent is always great enough, so the real problem when games go awry, lies with the coaching, the players, the strategy, the effort, the substitution patterns. Witnessing most of a choppy blown up season where THE franchise player left hasn’t cured that, yet.

I’m here to tell you something.

None of the above is true right now. There’s no player, or substitution pattern, play, or strategy that will nearly always get a win if applied correctly for this team. Right now, doing all those things correctly gives the Rockets a chance, a hope, of winning NBA games.

Yes, it would be best for everyone if Daniel Theis and Christian Wood didn’t share minutes again. It would be good to get more minutes for Sengun. It’d be great if Green and Porter Jr got to play with space, and saw some success. But there is no combination of players on this team that, if used properly, will make victory possible every game.

The talent may be there, but it isn’t developed. The Rockets, again, literally played five rookies. There were extenuating circumstances, but nothing about NBA history suggests playing a bunch of rookies leads to wins, ever.

There may be high level NBA players on this team, but there’s no “sun” for the solar system to revolve around. None of John Wall, Eric Gordon and Christian Wood are the Sun King. They’re good complementary players who can really help a team. But none are truly foundational players. (And yes, I’ve always thought that about Wall.)

But don’t worry, the Rockets will be able to test this theory when they play the foundering Lakers tomorrow night.


Post XMas Sentimentometer

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