We will always have the first quarter. Jalen Green scored 12pts in 5 minutes. Alperen Sengun looked crafty, and played tough against Bam Adebayo, and scored inside. Kevin Porter Jr. was everywhere. At one point in the first half, everyone on the court was 21 or under, and obviously ready for perhaps some orange slices at the half, and pizza and frozen yogurt after the game.
A truly hopeful moment for a Rockets team that’s heard a lot of talk of hope, but not seen much of the actual stuff in one game. (The game the night before notwithstanding.)
As the game wore on into the second quarter, still leading for most of it, the Rockets began to show a bit of fatigue on this road back to back. A bit like the Memphis Grizzlies the night before. It became obvious that the Rockets, with exactly one big on the floor, Alperen Sengun, that protecting the paint might become difficult.
Even the most ardent Christian Wood hater out there might wonder if he could help, as, for all his robust nature, JaeSean Tate isn’t that tall by NBA standards.
The breaking point came when the NBA’s most effective slightly out of control player, Jimmy Butler notched a series of truly unlikely +1 baskets and Tyler Herro (this generation’s Chandler Parsons) scored 20pts in the second quarter.
After that a leggy, but willing, Rockets team could never close the gap, after losing their second quarter lead.
This isn’t terrible. Miami has 44 wins for a reason - they’re good. The Rockets are mostly after competitive losses that show player growth, and this was one of those.
Tonight marked a milestone for Alperen Sengun, as it was the first night he’s played more than 30 minutes in a game. He finished with 13pts, 8 rbs, 3ast, 1blk in 31 minutes, which was fine against one of the tougher and more physical big men in the NBA.
Jalen Green continues to impress. He scored 20pts on good efficiency after a blistering first quarter, but like most Rockets, looked tired in the second half. The conditioning will come, the game is coming around already, as Green is realizing how to employ his devastating quickness and speed in an NBA context. He went 4-10 from three point range, and if can always do that, he’s a problem for any defense.
Josh Christopher looked to be back from his time on The Rookie Wall, in the frozen wastelands of ineptitude. He probably should have played a few more minutes, as Garrison Matthews turned his ankle early, and while he played on, he was largely ineffective. Unlike Daishen Nix, who had good moments in this game.
So all in all an expected, but not disappointing, visit to Miami. I hope the boys enjoy the pizza after the game before heading for bed with a good book, hopefully The Good Book. I’m sure they won’t be lured into questionable company while in Miami.
Disappointingly, there was no Rampaging Rando tonight. Tyler Herro was quite good, but he’s not a Rando.
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