Mercury Morris and the rest of the 1972 Miami Dolphins can rest easy knowing that the Houston Rockets will not threaten their perfect record this preseason. Pardon me, I must have gotten my Miami sports teams mixed up...
The Rockets hopes for an unbeaten preseason were thwarted tonight as they couldn’t sustain an early lead that their rising background of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. helped build. Green in particular got off to a hot start in the first quarter as he went 3-4 from behind the arc, which included a nifty move that sent Victor Oladipo sprawling to the court. He went on to finish with 25 points on 7-18 shooting.
KPJ also started off nicely with ten in the first as he also got others involved. Hot starts as well as sustainability from this duo should be something to look for going forward.
Jae’Sean Tate, who slid into a starting role once again with Eric Gordon and Jabari Smith Jr. sitting out, only played for five minutes before exiting with right ankle soreness. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious, but obviously it wasn’t worth pushing him in a game with little meaning.
Alperen Şengün returned to the lineup after missing the previous game. He was in uniform, but he struggled when it came to getting whistled by the referees. Miami, known for their “physicality”, also had something to do with his struggles tonight as they won the foul battle.
Tari Eason still proved to be a bulldog as he finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, although he finished with a team worst -19 plus/minus. That number isn’t too concerning however when you consider that the rest of the bench didn’t give much in comparison.
Josh Christopher tried to lead a mini-charge in the last few minutes, but his six turnovers throughout the course of the game are certainly not ideal and will continue to lead to questions of how he can work within the flow of the offense.
As for the backup point guard situation, TyTy Washington Jr. didn’t do much to supplant the resting Daishen Nix. With only one more preseason game left, it would make sense to rest Porter Jr. and see if one of these young guards can make their case as the primary backup. Throw Theo Maledon in the mix too, please.
I also wanted to note that Garrison Matthews might be sweating his roster spot a little bit harder after tonight’s 3-11 shooting performance against a team he randomly owns.
Jumping over to the defensive side of the ball, while Houston may believe that they were playing against the refs, they will also need to acknowledge their lack of three point defense tonight. Miami’s snipers in Duncan Robinson and Max Strus were instrumental in turning the tide of this game back into their favor and that’s what helped them take a one point advantage going into halftime.
While it is a bummer that the team didn’t finish off the game as well as they started, it’s important to remember this doesn’t count toward the actual win-loss column. Also, the opposing team will not hit 20 threes every night, at least I hope not. Getting back someone with a natural defensive prowess and athleticism such as Jabari will be a big boost against teams like Miami when it comes to switching out on long range shooters.
All in all, there’s positives to take from the game, but there’s always room for improvement. It’s still up from here.
Be sure to tune in for the Rockets’ game this Friday as they look to close out the preseason strong against the Indiana Pacers!