As good as the performance was against Phoenix the night before, this one was as bad.
The Los Angeles Clippers used the Rockets for target practice tonight. They thoroughly outplayed them in every phase of the game. Inside game, outside shooting, half court offense, half court defense, rebounding, ball security, passing, transition offense or defense, you name it, the Clippers were better at all of it. That’s the eye test.
There’s literally not a statistical category in the Rockets favor tonight. The Rockets managed eight steals? The Clippers had 12. The Rockets shot a presentable 35% from three? The Clippers shot 51.4%.
Clippers coach Lue had an answer for everything the Rockets did tonight, dropping into zone to prevent the sort of successful drives the Rockets displayed against the Suns, as they weren’t afraid of the long range shooting on display from the Rockets.
The trend of opponents scoring easily, if they’ll simply chain a couple of offensive actions together, continued tonight, as parts of the game looked like a lay up line, or shoot around for LA.
It’s become popular to lay the blame for all defensive woes at the feet of Christian Wood. It takes a team effort to give up 142 points, however. Not much of the Rockets defense was in place, or coherent tonight, anywhere, and when it was evident, the Clippers made shots anyway.
There are some specific problems with Wood on defense, however. His help defense is terrible, almost non-existent, in that it basically never arrives. If a man defending outside the paint gets beat on a drive, it’s nearly certain that Wood will do almost nothing to stop that drive. He also can’t contain powerful big men near the basket, nor even bother their efforts much.
What he’s best at is actually switching perimeter defense, which he’s quite good at, as he’s both tall, and mobile. Rim protection is a different story, and he seems to be getting worse by the game.
Rather than being the helper, Wood needs help, and JaeSean Tate, for all his many virtues, isn’t big enough to really give Wood the help he needs in the paint. In some real ways, Tate is wasted on this Rockets team. On a contending team, he’d be a household name in the NBA world. On the Rockets, he’s the only player who provides consistent effort, and energy on both sides of the ball.
Are there any positives? Sort of!
On the Schroder Watch, this game wasn’t so good. The Clippers contained him, and he had a miserable shooting night, though his connection with Jalen Green might add some hitherto missing easy offense, as Schroder has not only noticed that Green runs fast, and jumps high, and is willing to just keep running, but can actually get the pass to him on time.
If Schroder was a mixed bag, the positive news was the continuing emergence of Jalen Green’s offensive and defensive game. (Defensive game, in as much as it is emerging, rather than it’s good.) Green went 8-15 on 5-10 three point shooting, which you’d think might be the best long range shooting night of the game. You’d be wrong, by a lot.
I’ll venture to predict that Luke Kennard will never go 8-9 from three, in 23 minutes of play, or better, ever again. He’s having a nice year, but that was absurd. Nothing he shot wouldn’t go in, and yes, sometimes he was wide open, but others, he wasn’t. So Luke Kennard is The Dreaded Rando tonight. Perhaps this acclaim will spur him to get a better haircut? It’s really all I can criticize, but fortunately, it’s really bad.
The Rockets, on a back to back, and right before the All Star Break, checked out early, as tonight’s result amply demonstrates.
All Star Sentimentopredictorator
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Very Good Rising Stars for One Rocket
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