It’s hard to find new ways of describing the same thing. It’s hard to be funny with thirteen losses in a row. It’s a little hard not to write in ALL CAPS!!!
The Rockets have won two of the previous twenty games now, with no win more recent than December 26th, 2022.
Remember, this is a game recap, not a 30,000 foot view of things. Yes, the Rockets remain young, with a real chance to develop. But night in, night out, we’re not seeing many positive steps on that path to development, and that’s concerning.
Once again tonight the Rockets offense started brightly, working through Alperen Sengun, who once again had a dominant first half, followed by a largely shut down second half. Sengun is emerging as the diamond in the dungheap at this point, going for 19/16/7/1/3. That’s a great night, but of course, could have been greater, as the work mostly was done in the first half.
We need to discuss what keeps happening in the second halves of games to Sengun. In the first half Minnesota, missing Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, couldn’t stop Sengun. In the second, between a combination of outright slapping and fouling him to little official notice, and mostly attacking Rockets ballhandlers, he was shut down.
This happens pretty much every game to the Rockets. Because their offense is so predictable, because they have no plays or actions to punish blitzing the ballhandler, (aside from a dribble hand-off the defense knows is coming so much that they’re actually at the hand-off point ahead of the Rocket getting the ball) this tactic works every time.
What’s the Rockets response? The same thing they did last game. The same loss as last game.
Then there’s the defense. Which helps off a passer, only to see the ball immediately returned to that passer for an open shot. If that doesn’t happen, the Rocket defender is playing way off the shooter, such that no useful contest of the shot can be, or rather, will be, made.
Apparently watching Anthony Edwards shoot wide open threes was the Rockets answer to stifle his driving game. It worked great. Edwards notched 44pts with only two free throws, and went 8-16 from three. Edwards the only legitimate offensive threat on the Timberwolves tonight, and instead of making the rest of the team beat the Rockets, they let Edwards do whatever he liked, single covered, to be generous.
The Rockets other issues remain - incomprehensible rotations, a defensive theory that’s proven to be a disaster, an utterly predictable and impotent offense, and no plan to deal with opponent pressure on defense.
So while a coach can’t make free throws for his team (the Rockets missed 14), and he didn’t actually make the turnovers himself (21), you do have to ask why a team is so sloppy, and that never improves over two and a half years, and many, many, different players? Why it can’t make free throws? Why it can’t answer slightly heightened defensive pressure? Why there isn’t any other approach on offense other than what always gets shut down whenever an opponent exerts itself? Why can’t the coaching staff recognize good and bad combinations of their own players, let alone opponents? So many questions, so few answers.
Finally we need to talk about what really might be the worst game of Jalen Green’s career. Green shot 3-13, for 10 points, and the only two other stats he notched were 2 assists, and 6 turnovers. His effort on defense was non-existent. His attempts on offense were lackadaisical. His facilitation was lazy. It’s hard to imagine a more thorough ass-kicking that what Anthony Edwards laid on Jalen Green tonight. Off nights happen. Green is very young, and a streaky shooter. But nights where he just gives up shouldn’t also have him playing 33 minutes.
If this is meant to be a developmental year for the Rockets (and it can’t be anything else) where is the development? Where is the accountability anywhere in the organization? This is a shambles of a team. There doesn’t seem to be any plan to improve individually, or as a team, other than “Keep on doing what we’re doing.”. What IS that exactly?
What is being accomplished here?
This poll is closed
Maybe it should be the Disgust-O-Meter?