Tonight is a back-to-back for both the Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks. That sucks, and really the only other solution would be to play this game early Sunday since the NBA would never be stupid enough to put a game head-to-head against the Super Bowl. Will I get sued for saying that? Am I supposed to call it “The Big Game” or is that only in terms of advertising? Please don’t sue me, Roger.
Anyway, it’s been an expectedly poor road trip, as all of them have been for the good guys. Houston’s young core isn’t there yet, and missing Fred VanVleet really stung in Toronto. The 21 turnovers wouldn’t have evaporated with FVV, but it wouldn’t stretch to say that the Rockets might have had a few extra possessions with their normal point guard. And in a 3-point loss, a few extra possessions would be awfully nice. Again, this team is close but not there yet.
The other subplot of the loss was the benching of Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun. Both—but especially Green—were playing well lately. However, Houston’s starters were poor practically the whole night, and when the Rockets made a run in the fourth quarter without their two 2021 draft picks, Ime Udoka did the right thing by sticking with the hot group. Look, Sengun’s going to get a max contract and if Green plays the way he has been in the past couple of weeks, he’s going to get paid, too. But Udoka has to send a message that the hardest-working players will get the important minutes. I just hope he doesn’t have to keep sending the message so much that the players stop responding.
Oh, and another poor start to a third quarter. It’s becoming a recurring gag at this point. All we need now is for Jaleel White to show up after Atlanta’s inevitable 12-0 run to start the second half and ask, “Did I do that?”
How to Watch
Space City Home Network
Fred VanVleet-OUT (adductor)
Tari Eason-GTD (leg)
Cam Whitmore-GTD (ankle)
The Line (as of this post)
Looking ahead because we can
Monday night at home against the New York Knicks
What’s most like to happen tonight?
This poll is closed
Rockets have 20+ turnovers
Sengun and Green get benched early
Lack of energy to start the third quarter