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Rockets squish Hornets 138-104

Jalen Green - 36pts. 71%TS. Yes.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Charlotte Hornets
Just Make Layups, Baby Boy
Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Wow. Not just a win for this recap, but a ringing, loud, ultimately crowd-pleasing win. Ok, not the Charlotte crowd, but for this crowd, anyway.

For a game the Rockets won by 34 and might have won by more, should they have chosen it, it was... odd.

First Quarter

Rockets - 30

Hornets - 28

Second Quarter

Rockets - 25

Hornets - 25

Third Quarter

Rockets - 44 (44! Forty. Four.)

Hornets - 25

Fourth Quarter

Rockets - 39

Hornets - 26

It was a bare two point lead by halftime. There was a sense, like the irritating loss to the Trailblazers, that the Rockets would “F” around, and then find out that stupid bank shot prayers do come true, if you’re Portland playing the Rockets.

The Rockets would seemingly move out to a lead early on, only to have the HornBobs (name approximate) come back to tie the game. Jalen Green was pretty much the lone bright spot in the first half, as he did not miss a 2pt shot in the first have, but was 1-5 from three point range.

In fact the Rockets as a team were slightly worse than 1-5 from three point range at the half, despite open shots. You might be surprised to learn that the former Jordanaires do not close out on shooters with great gusto, particularly when the whole defense collapses on Alperen Sengun.

Charlotte was shooting in thirty percent territory from three at the half, and the Rockets in the teens. This was what was keeping the HorneCats hanging around, hanging around.

This all changed when the Rockets came out to start the third quarter. How to describe Rockets shooting in that period? A bombardment? A fusillade? A rocket barrage? If the Rockets couldn’t hit in the first half, then they couldn’t miss in the third quarter.

The rout was definitely on by mid third quarter, with the Rockets winning the quarter by an astonishing 19 points. Charlotte is a (perpetually) rebuilding team with seemingly a lot of collapse in them. I say this with sympathy, as that was the Rockets for three years. Perhaps new ownership will change the fate of the literal insects of the NBA? It seems like it couldn’t be worse, anyhow.

The fourth quarter, despite being entirely garbage time, wasn’t much better for Charlotte, though Ime Udoka did manage to run the meter on Fred VanVleet to 30 minutes anyway before evidently conceding that CHA wasn’t coming back.

Tonight’s standouts were gratifying. Let’s “take stock” so to speak.

Jalen Green (JGRN- NASD) - 12-20, but a robust 11-13 from 2pt range. At one point in the second half he was 11-11 from two. He also shot 12 free throws and made 11 of them. This was exactly the Jalen we wanted to see in most respects. He attacked early. He used his speed to not only get to the rim, but to create contact at the rim himself. This is far better than letting the contact come to him on some weird, soft, corkscrew shot that rarely gets a whistle. It was simple basketball that, for one game at least, lead to simple dominance. Granted against a team that could be dominated, but you have to start somewhere. 36 points are his season high, but his True Shooting tonight was a very fine 71%. This sort of play, plus league average three point shooting, takes him to 25-30 points a night. He also grabbed 9 rebounds. SPECULATIVE BUY.

Cam Whitmore - (CAM - NYSE) The idea that Cam and Jalen can’t share a court should have been partly debunked tonight. If they’re both playing well opponents might well pray they don’t share the court together. Cam started off cold, but then drove the basket, then made some truly thunderous dunks, and then made 3pt shots. 24 points in 20 minutes is hard to deny, but he threw in 11 boards in that time as well. The Rockets really have something with Whitmore, and the league is going to see it soon enough. STRONG BUY.

Amen Thompson (AMEN - NASD) - I hope you bought your Amen Thompson shares (back in December, when some people thought he couldn’t dribble. Amen only scored 13 in 23 minutes, but added 6 boards, 8 assists, and 2 steals, against one turnover. 4-6 from the field, 1-1 on 3pt, 4-6FT. 6’7” point guard, with elite athleticism and basketball IQ. STRONG BUY.

Jock Landale - (JKL - ASX) - Hey, it’s the backup center that was promised. Jock looked right tonight, yes, against Charlotte, but looked the part of a very solid backup big who can start in a pinch. Will it continue? Who knows? I certainly hope so. Jock nearly finished his career when he shaved off his Mullet Of Antipodean Power. It’s growing back, and so is his game, perhaps? Jock only had six points, but it’s more how he looked overall. Confident. Assured. Competent. Quick? Yes, quick, and in control of the paint.

All in all a relaxing night, despite it not being the best outing from Dillon Brooks and Fred VanVleet.

Not to worry, they will get another chance to play tomorrow, in Brooklyn, when the Rockets can make that Brooklyn pick just a little bit better.



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PS - I’m grateful my favorite basketball team doesn’t have to pin its hopes on Lamelo Ball.