15. (Really, 13.)
This is the Rockets scoring output from their outstanding first quarter through their dismal second half. They really only scored 13 useful points in the fourth quarter, as Kevin Porter Jr treated himself to a last second unguarded dunk.
The game started very well, and in these bleak days, even a good quarter or so of basketball from the Rockets is something for fans to cherish. This is primarily because we don’t see much good basketball, and we don’t see much learning from this team right now.
The Rockets are the worst team in the NBA, and performances like tonight’s are why.
In the first quarter the Rockets initiated offense through Alperen Sengun, and he, and they, were great. Segun finished the first half with 18 points and looked to be on his way towards a career high in scoring. He ended the game with...18 points.
The Rockets lead by 18 points in the second quarter, but the TWolves caught up seemingly in the space of a couples of minutes. This happen when the Rockets starters re-entered the game, after the bench did a great job early in the quarter.
The Rockets entered halftime leading by only four. They’d quickly relinquish the lead in the second half, as their offense, which put up 33 points in the first quarter barely managed to equal that output in the half.
The defense wasn’t terrible, well, it was at times, but the team only surrendered 104 points total in the game. That should be a winnable game in todays NBA. Instead the Rockets shot under Minnesota’s average of 115 points surrendered to opponents by (honestly) 11 points.
Currently Jalen Green is mired in a horrific shooting slump, as he’s now drawing serious defensive attention. Normally the recipe to help him out of the slump would be to find him some easy looks through motion, and screening action, or to run the offense such that that he can shed a top opposing defender for a match up he can beat.
The Rockets offense as its being run provides neither thing. The difference between this five out system, and Mike D’Antoni’s is that the MDA system would run multiple pick actions to get a desirable defender either switched onto James Harden, or forced to guard him as he moved off a pick or screen. This simply does not happen with the Rockets offense.
Jae’Sean Tate’s return has already been helpful. Tate calls out defenses, passes well, is tough, energetic and generally useful. The problem with Tate is, he’s a “big” at 6’5”. This needn’t be a problem on the current Rockets, as actual, useful, bigs and plausible small ball bigs are on the roster. So surely we’d see Tate in a SF/PF role, not a center, as the Rockets went small, right?
Tate was used as he was two years ago - as the center against legitimate, large, centers. Rudy Gobert, not much of an offensive force, helped seal the game for Minnesota by simply shooting over Tate. It was well established he can’t play center in such circumstances two years ago, but here he was, in a close game, getting torched at center by Rudy Gobert.
What is changing? What is improving right now?
The answer seems to be, not much.
The Rockets came out with energy, and intent tonight. They weren’t listless. But when a merely competent NBA team switched some coverages, and tried a little harder, they effectively collapsed.
The coaching staff can’t make shots for the team, but the second half saw the Rockets passing up good shots, bad shots, any shots, until someone got the hot potato at the end of the shot clock, and put up garbage, and the result was 34pts in the half.
I’m tired of recapping losses, but more, I’m tired of recapping losses where it looks like the team, and players, are regressing, not improving. If there are good and bad losses, this was yet another bad one.
Sentiment-o-Meter #2 2023
This poll is closed
Go away, Sentiment-o-Meter, I can’t even look at you right now.