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Disaster quarter dooms Rockets again in 101-94 loss to Heat

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Could be better.

Miami Heat v Houston Rockets
Tate inquires as to when the rookie whistle will go away.
Photo by Robert Seale/NBAE via Getty Images

The Rockets seem capable of playing three quarters of a good game against nearly anyone. They also seem capable of playing one quarter of one of the worst games anyone has ever seen against anyone as well.

Monday’s loss to the Charlotte Hornets saw the Rockets drop a seven point scoring “effort” in the fourth quarter of what had been a close an interesting game to that point.

Tonight’s loss to the Miami Heat “featured” a 10pt third quarter for the Rockets, where they lost the lead they took in the first half and then some, as Miami scored 28. A 28 point scoring quarter by an opponent isn’t doom in today’s NBA. In fact, it’s normal, in a league that is averaging about 112 points per game.

What’s not normal is 7-10 points. That’ll lose you nearly any game, and it lost another one for the Rockets.

Most long-time Rockets fans, or at least fans from The Former Harden Era, are conditioned to think “The defense is killing us! If we could only scratch the top 10 in defense!”

The Rockets defense, in points allowed, before tonight, was top ten. The offense, in points per game, is bottom eight. The margins between places is minor, to be sure, overall, but the point remains.

Defense isn’t the problem. The problem is a Rockets offense that doesn’t work well overall, and sometimes simply coughs up multiple hairballs. Some of the problem is the absolutely sporadic nature of the roster, in that the key Rockets - John Wall, Christian Wood, Eric Gordon and (if I must) Victor Oladipo have barely played any games together.

Some of the problem is that the Rockets are relying on a lot of complementary type players to be lead scorers. One of the reason those guys are secondary players is that they can’t reliably score. They can’t create shots for themselves. They can’t be counted on to make their open looks. Their handle can’t survive being attacked by the opponent the way a primary scorer would be. They can’t create space to shoot consistently. They can’t pass off accurately or on time. Or they simply don’t want the big shot, and will pass out of it, often to disastrous results late in the clock.

This doesn’t mean they’re bad players, far from it, but it does mean that when things are going wrong, they can’t be relied upon to fix it. Right now, big contract, nice moves, high speed notwithstanding, John Wall is in that category. Right now, Victor Oladipo is Catastrophically Bad on the court.

Then there are roster holes. They won’t be fixed immediately, but they’ll likely be corrected fairly soon. The Rockets need another point guard. Gordon and Oladipo aren’t point guards. They need a Forward/Center who can fill in for the oft-injured Christian Wood. They probably need not to play Tucker and Tate and Oladipo at the same time, ever.

This team is a work in progress. If you live with it minute to minute, sweat every basket like the past few years, it’s going to kill you. Things are hard enough. Spare yourself this pain and understand, this isn’t a what this Rockets team is going to look like, probably in as little as about six weeks.

As for this particular game, the Rockets played better than Miami in the first half, though neither team looked good. They pooped their pants in the third quarter, and won the fourth quarter by enough that the final score looked closer than it actually was.

This team fights hard. They play defense. They have real prospects at the GLeague level (When was the last time that was true? Harrell? Capela?)

Hope for better, but expect more of the same until Christian Wood returns or roster changes are made.

Poll

What’s on the horizon?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    More losing.
    (50 votes)
  • 43%
    A better team when Wood returns.
    (90 votes)
  • 19%
    Waiting for the roster to be fixed.
    (41 votes)
  • 8%
    Some addition by subtraction.
    (18 votes)
  • 3%
    Fort Worth.
    (8 votes)
207 votes total Vote Now