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Second-half mauling - Rockets lose to Grizzlies 113-99

All Sunshine Recap!

Memphis Grizzlies v Houston Rockets
He’s Back!
Photo by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

Return with me, through the mists of time, turn back the one way march of causality, and revisit stirring days of December, 2022. The world was a different place then. You might not recognize it. Rockets fans were still generally unhappy, but believed in the plan. They thought player development was happening, and that all would, eventually, be well.

The Rockets were losing, but they’d put up a good fight. They’d play a close first half, maybe even three quarters, and then, in seemingly less than a minute, totally collapse, and lose by twenty or more points.

In that one half, or even 36 minutes of basketball that fragile flower, hope, could bloom. A new year, the year of the rabbit, began, and the Rockets revealed another strategy. They would get down big, and simply drift through the game, doing very little, until the clock wound down, and the score was the score. There was no pretense of competitive basketball, no holding the line for 24+ minutes, and luring us in, starting in early 2023.

The Rockets were just bleak, and terrible, and nothing but “Pray For Victor”. Tonight marked a return to the days of false springs, of the fool’s paradise, of a lighter gray breaking through a darker one. I have to say, I liked it a lot more

It also marked the return after an absence of nearly two months, of Kevin Porter Jr. It could be the two things are co-incidental, or possibly not.

Tonight the Rockets kept it close for a half. Then Memphis starting pulling away, not from any brilliance, because the Grizzlies at no point looked brilliant, or even interesting, tonight. It could be they were simply looking past this game, and with reason. A small amount of focus, and making a few open shots cracked this game open for the Grizzle. The Rockets are simply a team of terrible shooters, and if an opponent starts shooting decently, averagely, the Rockets simply won’t be able to keep up, unless they’re turning the opponent over, or getting easy looks.

The Rockets offense is now an amazing spectacle of players being in their heads so much they have no idea what to do, no confidence, and no sense of what the right play might be. It’s truly astonishing. The Rockets will now immediately, unhesitatingly, pass out of a wide open 3pt shot, to a covered player, or a much worse shot. The shot that is ultimately chosen is usually bad, and usually forced - by the clock, or by the player. The team now also misses shots right at the rim, and that’s really a matter of confidence.

Players “maintain spacing” so much that when Alperen Sengun was doubled by the defense tonight, literally no one moved on the Rockets. This despite one player now being totally uncovered, and Sengun needing an outlet. I’ve never seen anything quite like the Rockets offense.

The fact that it scores around 100 points per game might be viewed in a positive light, that there must be some real talent on the team to manage so much.

The season is winding down now, and the Rockets aren’t any better, and just seem frozen in some sort of indecisive, fearful, terrible decision tree.

This is most probably fixable. The players are young, and malleable. The right environment, the right leader, will turn things around.



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