The Houston Rockets finished their home stand as they took on the Cleveland Cavaliers for the first time this season. The Rockets were without two of their starters ( Eric Gordon and Kevin Porter Jr) and their backup point/forward, Jae'Sean Tate.
The Rockets scored the first basket of the game when Jalen Green made the quick pass to Josh Christopher, who was getting his first start of the season for the injured Eric Gordon. The Rockets and Cavs went back and forth to start the games and were tied at nine after three minutes.
Jabari Smith got off to a much better start. Making his first two shots from the field but unfortunately received his second foul midway through the quarter. Alperen Sengun, facing one of the best defensive frontcourts in the league, also started 2-for-2 from the field. The Rockets, however, began to turn the ball over, and the Cavaliers took full advantage. The Cavaliers would end the quarter on a run and took a 37-25 lead after the first quarter.
It was much of the same in the second quarter, as the Rockets’ mismatched lineup started to struggle when Coach Silas went to the bench. Coach Silas had to go deep into the rotation without Eric Gordon, Jae'Sean Tate, Kevin Porter Jr., Ty Ty Washington and Daishen Nix receiving early minutes with limited success.
The Rockets’ three-point shooting was abysmal for a second straight game. Jalen Green hadn't scored a point until late in the second quarter when he finally knocked down a shot beyond the arc, which was the Rockets’ first three-point make of the game. Until that point, Ricky Rubio had more three-pointers than the Rockets team.
The Rockets went into the half down 74-48, and from this point, it was mainly garbage time minutes as the Rockets never got closer than down 18 points in the second half. The Rockets shot 5-21 from 3-point range, which is the lowest attempt the team had had since April 6th, 2016, vs. the Dallas Mavericks when they finished with 20 attempts.
The Rockets are 10 for their last 49 from three-point range. When you are constantly bricking shots from deep, that leads to easy, fast-break opportunities for the opponent and makes your defense always play on their heels. The Cavaliers had no problem getting out on the fast break last night and getting into their offense quickly. Rockets would go on to lose 113-95 as garbage time play made the score a lot closer than it was.
Coach Silas, Jabari Smith, Josh Christopher, and Tari Eason spoke to the media after the game.
Coach Silas spoke to the Rockets about not having several of their players and how that affected the game.
This was a little different we didn't have the ball handling on the floor. They were blitzing Jalen. They were double teaming Al P (Alperen Sengun). They are one of the best defensive teams in the league. The fact that they forced 22 turnovers wasn't too surprising. Going in knowing we didnt have three of our main guys who handle the basketball.
The lack of ball handlers was evident last night by the low three-point attempts. The Rockets didn't have anyone to penetrate the defense and force the Cavaliers to collapse in the paint.
Coach Silas also mentioned he would not be coaching the Rockets when they take on the Detroit Pistons on Saturday. Coach Silas will attend the memorial for his father, Paul Silas, in Charlotte this weekend. Coach Lucas will be taking the lead for the Rockets.
Josh Christopher started his first game of the season, and, despite the loss, Josh was happy that he was given the opportunity.
Here is Josh Christopher on his changing roles this season.— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) January 27, 2023
“Just being grateful for the opportunity. It’s only like 400 NBA players”
I remember interviewing him last season with the Vipers and he wasn’t upset or sulking he was just happy to be playing basketball. pic.twitter.com/LxpctbXW0b
Christopher has always been humble whether he is playing in the G-League or with the Rockets, and you can tell by the video that he is just happy to be playing basketball, which shows on the court. Christopher finished with seven points in 19 minutes last night.
The Rockets look to get back in the win column on Saturday as they head to the Motor City to take on the equally struggling 13-27 Detroit Pistons.