The Houston Rockets found out that three points are truly worth more than two in tonight’s 123-117 loss to the Indiana Pacers. The 19-to-5 discrepancy in made threes proved to be just too much of a cushion for the Tyrese Haliburton led Pacers as they were able to hold off a Rockets’ comeback down the stretch.
While the momentum swung Indiana’s way on the perimeter, Houston dominated on the interior, getting another huge performance from Alperen Sengun. Had the Rockets been able to connect on a couple more threes, perhaps their 30-point advantage in points in the paint would have not gone fruitless.
As mentioned, the Pacers started off hot from three, connecting on their first six attempts. However, the Rockets managed to stay in relative good shape as they finished the first quarter knotted up at 33.
The bench came up big in the first half as the second unit flipped an eight point deficit into a nine point lead during the second quarter. The influx of energy started off, first and foremost, with Tari Eason. His 16 points and 8 rebounds looked the part as he snatched the ball from the grasp of Pacers players all night.
Aaron Holiday also continued his run of productivity with 15 points while also accounting for three of the Rockets’ five made threes. We even saw some of the much-hyped flashes from Amen Thompson early on as he had a nice putback dunk and a conversion at the rim during a fast break.
The second unit really left their imprint on the defensive end as they forced the Pacers into 12 first half turnovers, which is atypical considering they only average 12.8 per game.
There was also a noticeable effort to establish Sengun throughout this game as he punished the Pacers en route to 30 points 16 rebounds 5 assists and 4 steals. Indiana even tried to prepare for this as they opted to go with a larger starting lineup, inserting Jalen Smith over Obi Toppin. As you can see, it didn’t do much to slow down Alpy.
The Rockets went into halftime with a three point lead, but the game soured, once again, in the third quarter when Haliburton caught flames. Houston didn’t have much of an answer for the Pacers’ emerging star in this one as Hali went for 33 points and 10 assists running Indy’s high octane offense. He does this for a few more years and he’ll be in convos with Peyton Manning about who is the better orchestrator of the ball.
It also didn’t help that Dillon Brooks exited this game in the third quarter with what is being called a strain oblique. Hopefully that injury doesn’t keep DB out for an extended period.
The Rockets made it a competitive game in the fourth quarter after falling behind by 11 to start it, but it appears that the pace of the game caught up to them. Noticeably gassed, I wonder if this game would have went different had some more substitutions for fresher legs been made in the quarter.
This also turned out to be another Jalen-less Green fourth quarter. This was among Jalen’s worst games of the season as he only scored 5 points and played a season-low 20 minutes. As patience for Green has clearly dwindled, his responsive performances haven’t done much to question Ime Udoka’s second half rotations. I’m officially worried, but that’s a conversation for another day.
This turned out to be a pretty evenly matched game between two young teams, both with their own style. It just turns out that the more offensively-inclined team had the upper hand tonight.