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RGV Rockets fall to Jazz 114-99

Closer than it appears. Reasons for hope. 15th loss.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Sacramento Kings
Most points by a Rocket under 21.
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

When one’s team loses 15 games in a row, it’s not surprising that one starts looking for “good loses”.

When that team is heading down the chute as fast as it can, in hopes of keeping a potential top four pick in a loaded draft, there ARE good losses. Productive losses.

Technically the Rockets aren’t tanking, because they don’t have to tank. Injuries, inexperience, bad shooting and losing the locus of the entire team, are doing that work without any input from management or team ownership.

Tonight the Rockets with their 11-24 record took on Utah, having perhaps their best, or luckiest, season in decades at 27-9. The Jazz have endured almost no significant injuries, in a change from their usual awful injury luck. The Rockets appear to be the sin eaters for the Jazz, struggling to field an NBA roster tonight. Here are the missing Rockets and the reason for their absence:

John Wall - Knee bruise.

Eric Gordon - Groin injury.

Victor Oladipo - Didn’t feel like playing.

Christian Wood - Ankle sprain.

Danuel House - Knee Injury.

PJ Tucker - Sulking.

Rodions Kurucs - Knee?

Dante Exum - Is Dante Exum.

Notably missing from this list - David Nwaba, who needs wrist surgery but opted to play anyhow. Victor Oladipo chose to sit out tonight’s game because he’s fragile, or something. He can’t be gone fast enough. What a blessing the Rockets were spared signing him to a long term deal. (Why he was offered one remains baffling. He’s terrible. Maybe it’s his injuries, which is sad, but he’s still terrible.)

So tonight the Rockets started, essentially, a GLeague roster. A GLeague payroll, certainly. Mike Conley, for example, makes $28 million more per year than tonight’s Rockets starters combined. Until last week most of these Rockets were in the GLeague bubble.

It went better than you might expect. The Juniors are promising.

Kevin Porter Jr. now holds the scoring record for Rockets under 21 years old, edging out the tragic Eddie Griffin. Porter finished with 27pts, 8 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal and 2 blocks. A couple of his finishes, against a top 5 defense, and Rudy Gobert (who they will tell us is great until we all capitulate, despite what Capela did to him), were worthy of national highlights. He looks to be a steal.

Kenyon Martin Jr. had 15pts, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals and one SportsCenter block of Rudy Gobert.

Both young players appear to have a bright future. Especially if they can learn to shoot better. With an average age of 20, they probably can.

Right now the Rockets, as a group, however, cannot shoot. League average 3pt shooting tonight, and the Rockets might have somehow won, despite their roster. They came closer than the score might indicate, bringing the game to within four points in the 4th quarter, after being down as many as 26 points.

This was Utah’s first game back from the All Star Break, time they usefully spent complaining about officiating, it would appear, shooting 25 free throws to the Rockets 13. That won’t assuage their sense of grievance, of course, but every little bit helps.

This was a game the Rockets had no business winning, but they gave it a real shot. Utah, despite their gaudy record, looks to me as though that shiny record might flatter them a bit. They’re really good, but possibly not “Best In The NBA” good; given how they looked with a rest and decisive roster advantage over their opponents. They seem to be enjoying particularly fine injury and perhaps, shooting luck.

They probably stole that luck from the Rockets, who remain unable to hit the ocean from a boat and are never, ever, healthy, or even close. That’d be like the Jazz, to do that.

Until the Rockets health and shooting picture changes, the losing will continue.


Which Junior?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    (136 votes)
  • 11%
    (21 votes)
  • 4%
    (8 votes)
  • 3%
    (7 votes)
  • 9%
    OKC - aka Dallas Jr.
    (18 votes)
190 votes total Vote Now